Friday, September 13, 2013

BIG’s Blog: What is Marketing Today?

I have said many times that if I were back in the commercial world running a company that had to sell its product or service, I would honestly be stymied by how to use the new array of digital tools and social media to sell my product. I say “stymied,” because with the power of information now in the hands of the consumers, commercial companies face worldwide competition which constantly pushes products and services to commodity status. And once all you sell is a commodity, it’s only about price.

But for fundraisers, the digital tools and social media are a dream come true. Why? Because nonprofits aren’t selling something. Charities, health organizations, and colleges are all about (or should be) building relationships.

Yes, the end product is that enough Supporters will financially support the organization and its work . . . but today our communications with constituents and donors are focused around constant appeals or fundraising events. Don’t take my word for it, ask your donors or, better yet, have an independent research group ask them.  

Unfortunately, most commercial companies are still figuring out how to use today’s new marketing tools to build their business. And again . . . unfortunately . . . many seem to be getting it all wrong. Here is a recent rant from another blogger I follow that makes my point:

“That’s what’s wrong with today’s marketing, it doesn’t allow for percolation, it doesn’t allow for growth, it believes the instant smash is more powerful than the long-term build, that if everybody knows your name right away you’ve made it, when the opposite is true.”     - Bob Lefsetz

Bob Lefsetz has it right for commercial companies as well as for nonprofit organizations. It is all about building relationships for the long-term. Relationships create “value.”

Take a breath. Take a step back. Has your fundraising organization become a churn and burn machine? Be careful, the insidious part of churn and burn is that it can work in the short term . . . but with disastrous consequences as time goes by.  

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Web-based tools and social media were made for building relationships. Social media . . . social . . . get it?

But, first, your strategic direction has to change to focus on relationships FIRST . . . not second, or third, or . . .

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