Monday, December 30, 2013

BIG’s Blog: Drip, Drip, Drip into 2014!

What if they threw a party and no one came? Does it strike anyone else as odd that the Postal Regulatory Commission’s award on Christmas Eve of a 4.3% “exigency” increase to the Postal Service, now being decried as the end of direct mail, is really the most expected non-event in the history of the Postal Service as well as many circles (though not all) within the nonprofit fundraising community?

I mean, come on! Up to now everyone and their dog could have an opinion on the future of direct mail; or more particularly for fundraisers, the viability of direct mail as a long-term, cost-effective fundraising tactic. Now the “big boys” have stepped up to the microphone and have weighed in . . . and, by the way, they are the only voices that count.

Their verdict (it is now official) is that mail volume will continue to decline and to manage that decline without going deeper into the red, rates must rise, and quickly!  The definition of the peculiar word “exigent” is in line with Merriam Webster's interpretation of “needing to be dealt with immediately.”

Make no mistake about what just happened, it is about managing the decline with as little red ink as possible. What part of “death spiral” don’t you understand?

Please see this as an extremely clear signal for what it is. I know some of you – up to now – still believe that direct mail is your present and your future (“we are up over last year. . .”) but please, please see this for what it is.

Drip, Drip, Drip.

And this is my final blog post mentioning anything related to postal rates, responses, costs, demise etc., etc. I personally am closing a chapter on direct mail. As many of you know, I have been a direct mail marketer for over 30 years! Actually, I closed my personal direct mail chapter five years ago, but up until now my “mentions” were to get you to the same point.

Now it’s over. The PRC’s ruling coming on the heels of the Canadian Postal Service announcement that it will stop home delivery and raise rates substantially ought to be all that you need to . . . as I said in a previous blog post . . . “change your mind.”

You don’t have to “read tea leaves;” this is in plain English. If you can’t see it now . . . there is nothing more I, or anyone else, can do for you.

So are you ready to move on and start building your plan to start growing your revenues significantly again in 2014?

Okay, so now we set about “getting serious” about VIABLE alternatives to direct mail.

But what do we really need to replace?

Direct mail is “relatively easy” to do, there was a time many years ago when it was new to us. Direct mail is also able to reach and build a “national constituency” from wherever your organization happens to be located.

Let’s start with those two criteria.

Relatively Easy: Have you ever learned something new? Skiing (snow or water)? Typing (now called keyboarding)? Driving a car? Would you say that you were an expert at the end of the first day? The second day? The first week? The first month? How about the first year? Even if it took you several years to become “expert” or “competent,” it didn’t mean you couldn’t . . . ski, type, or drive . . . when you started, you just became more competent over time.

National Constituency: Your message needs to cost-effectively reach thousands, even millions of people to find the individuals that share your passion for your ministry or mission. While the Postal Service provided a superb delivery mechanism, there was a cost to it. So you need a new mechanism through which you can share your message that is national (even international) in scope. Hmmmm, I wonder where we could find that?

So, where are we?

1. We need to “learn” a new way to communicate our message. It will help you that you understand direct mail. But, it will be new. But you CAN learn something new and though you won’t be an expert the first day, week, or month, you WILL have started the journey. Can you master something new? Yes!

2. We need a cost-effective mechanism that can allow us to share our message far and wide. And we don’t want to just depend on the written word. We want to share our message via the spoken word and even video. We think the Internet could be that mechanism. Are there limitations on media on the Internet? Not if they are digital. Can we learn and master the Internet? Yes?

Okay, we’ve started . . .

Have a wonderful New Year’s celebration . . . 2014 is the beginning of a “new” fundraising chapter for your organization.

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