Monday, March 3, 2014

BIG’s Blog: The Truth About Fundraising

Recently Kaila Colbin, a blogger for MediaPost Blogs wrote the following …

“No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow… No one jumps up from a nap and runs to see an advertisement.”-- Jan Koum, WhatsApp
“It turns out it was just advertising. There was no higher calling.” -- Linds Redding
The advertising industry is in a state of existential crisis, thanks to technology; analytics; migrating, fickle and/or distracted eyeballs; Netflix and other on-demand services; piracy; privacy; attribution; the decline of print as a medium; stagnating television audience numbers; and the fact that we can finally start to understand which 50% of our ad spend is wasted.
And even though the television ad industry is still going strong, any forward-looking strategist will be contemplating how all of those factors will cause the landscape to shift.
Fans of the most excellent “Good to Great” by Jim Collins and Steve Porras will recall the injunction to preserve the core while stimulating progress. It should be no surprise, then, that the starting point for any long-term strategic thinking is to understand the core as deeply as possible. Why are we here? What is our contribution? What is the essence of who we are -- as people, as a team, as an organization?
Until we go back to first principles and question our assumptions, we have no foundation from which to evolve. This is what the advertising industry needs to do -- because there is a chance, just a chance, that we have forgotten what it is all about.

Kaila is talking to the advertising industry whose highest calling in life is to do a good job of promoting other companies’ products and services. Kaila is right; advertising, as we have known it, is in deep, deep trouble. She actually says, “the advertising industry is in a state of existential crisis,” meaning that its very existence is on the line. Pretty serious talk, right?

Are people IN LOVE with your organization … your mission?

There are probably only a handful of commercial companies that ever make it to the rarified status of an emotional connection with their customers where people would actually say, “I love (fill-in-the-blank).”Apple has been one of those companies; at least it was under Steve Jobs. For me a couple of those companies are Progressive Insurance and, but I also “strongly like” Apple … just not in love with them of late.

Why do we love certain companies? What is it about them?

Well, first and foremost, each of the companies I mentioned has a unique story … a narrative that transcends their product or service. Secondly, they are FOCUSED on their customer and the customer experience in interacting with their company. And, third, they are online, not only with their message and customer experience, but their marketing as well.

So if you can LOVE a commercial company that ultimately delivers merely a consumer product or service, then why can’t I LOVE your organization? Probably because A) I don’t know your story, because, B) I am mostly online and you aren’t, and C) If I don’t know you exist and I don’t know your story, then how can you “wow me” with your ability to reach out, connect to me, and share your story and mission?

Kaila alludes to the problem for the advertising industry that people are massively moving online and leaving behind traditional media, where advertising has played big for the last 80+ years.

Why do fundraisers think they are immune to the crisis in advertising? Aren’t you promoting your causes, missions, and organizations with essentially the same media and in the same way that today’s advertising industry uses to promote their customers’ products and services?

So if the advertising industry is in crisis, why isn’t the fundraising industry in crisis?

But honestly, who cares about the advertising industry?

Well, Kaila Colbin cares and she is screaming at them that they have forgotten what it is all about (the first principles: Why are we here? What is our contribution? What is the essence of who we are?).

And she is talking to the advertising business!

Isn’t your organization and mission WAY MORE IMPORTANT than the advertising business?

Yet … if you are not reaching me, and if I don’t know your story, how can I love your organization?

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