Friday, December 30, 2011

A "20 Second Rule" for Marketers

I recently finished a book called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. In the book, the author identifies seven principles for improving performance or maximizing our potential to improve our work, lives, etc.

In reading this book, my marketing mind got going around Principle #6: The 20-Second Rule.

Simply stated, the premise of the 20-Second Rule is based on the fact that we will always gravitate towards tasks that are easy to start regardless of the known fact that it may be less satisfying or productive than something that may take ONLY 20 seconds longer to start.

Attention All Marketers!

You have 20 seconds to make a point. Take this advice to heart when planning around any brand campaigns, fundraising efforts, etc.

This isn't necessarily a new problem, in the digital world we obsess about "limiting clicks"...the less clicks the more likely the close but has this principle been lost on the world of direct mail?

In today's competitive DM landscape with cluttered mail boxes I challenge you to make sure your next DM package makes a point in less than 20 seconds.

I look at it, I open it...tick tock!

Is the Data Telling the Real Truth About Online Giving?

There was a very informative post recently from Blackbaud about the current statistics around online giving. If you don't have time to read it here are a few key highlights:

1) Online fundraising generated $22 billion in 2010 (up 34% vs. '09) Online still only represents about 8% of total giving in the US
3) 32% of online donors will switch to offline giving

Clearly, online is the fastest growing giving channel and we've likely only seen the tip of the iceberg (I hope) but I want to caution fundraisers to be careful what you glean from two other data points.

1) Only 3% of offline donors will give online
2) Multichannel donors are more loyal than single channel donors

It's All About Causation vs. Correlation

First, let me be clear, I do not dispute that this is THE DATA. The data clearly shows the correlation (the fact that these two points are related) but doesn't explain the causation (what is REALLY the relation between the two).

Only 3% of offline donors will give online

1) Does this mean that 97% of offline donors don't use email or Internet?
2) Does this mean that we shouldn't bother soliciting offline donors via other channels?

I think that neither of the above are true. My guess, the large majority of organizations started their online giving long after they started their offline giving and that offline represented 92% (or more of the giving) so the Director of "Offline" giving probably got the final say in whether emails were sent to "their donors" when a offline channel effort was underway.

Kudos to Steve MacLaughin and the rest of the team at Blackbaud for doing the hard work on aggregating all of this data. All I ask is that we challenge ourselves (fundraisers and agencies alike) to look a layer deeper at what this all means.

This may be a job for Market Researchers to find out directly from the donors!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

3 Things the American Cancer Society's "Report Card" Didn't Tell Me

As a follow up to my blog post yesterday someone sent me the American Cancer Society's 2011 "Report Card" that was recently posted to their website.

First, kudos to the American Cancer Society for making strides in the fight against Cancer in 2011!

Now here are a few comments (and I welcome others):

1) They should email it to me (yes, they have my email address)!
2) It feels heavy on facts and figures and lacks a "human feel".
3) They didn't tell me why my continued support was needed in 2012!

The American Cancer Society is a first-class organization in many ways so I will give them a pass on this single page as I suspect it was done by the Corporate Communications and not the Fundraising team so maybe this is type of communiciation is soon to follow!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

4 Things Nonprofits Should Tell Donors About 2011

As we all hold our collective breath waiting to see how the few remaining days unfold for 2011 giving, I think all fundraisers should be polishing up the finishing touches on their "2011 Report cards".

To reiterate, I am saying "report card" because I have no time or interest in reading your Annual Report...and I am betting I am not alone there!

In our fast paced world of short attention spans I think a report card of sorts may be a worthwile communication strategy nonprofits should consider.

Recently there was a great post on Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog which cited recent market research that had two findings I found interesting:

1) Donors don't spend a whole lot of time researching charities to which they give.

2) Individual donors simply want to know they are giving to an organization that will do good with their money.

Katya's point was make sure you put content on your website to let prospective donors know you're a good charity.

Certainly advice all good charities should follow.

To build on this, I believe your report card is a chance for the GREAT charities to differentiate the GOOD in an arena we all know is a very crowded marketplace.

Donors are not measuring great organizations for raising the most money but for doing the most with it.

As your donor I want to know these 4 things about your 2011:

1) What did you do that no other organization did?

2) How did your organization become more efficient and/or effective?

3) What happened in 2011 that will shape your organizational goals in 2012?

4) What you are going to do "this year" with my continued support?

If you truly did do great work and you make the case for continued support in a quick and simple I may click donate before I get to the P.S. (because I have a hunch if you are great at what you do there will be a P.S.)!

Please share your comments and tell me what other questions I have missed!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My 3 Pronged Approach to Effectively Using Twitter...

28 days ago I started a personal challenge to "take on Twitter" with the goal of acquiring 100 followers by December 31, 2011 (currently at 63 and counting @jwhichard).

During this quest I have pontificated about my strategies to achieve this goal the "right way". To be fair to my critics, my version of the "right way" has taken on many shapes and forms to date including:

1) I am only going to count followers with a link back to my focus around Fundraising, Nonprofits, Marketers, etc ("etc" defined as friends, family and Justin Beiber).

2) I am aiming for a 2 to 1 ratio (for every two followers I have I can only follow 1 fellow "tweeter")

3) I am going to use #Bold as my hashtag so I will show up as a trending topic (this one created the most "lol's")!

Simply stated, my goal is to be a focused voice targeting a relevant audience to innovate change in marketing/fundraising and use this medium to share and shape my thoughts and ideas into something much better than I can create on my own.

Twitter would become my own marketing agency made up of a larger collective experience pool!

My detractors and doubters (and there are many) who have snickered as I ask for proper Twitter etiquette around the use of "RT" and @ mentions have told me this quality over quantity approach is all wrong.

And now Seth Godin has come to my defense!

In a recent post, The Trap of Social Media Noise he states there are two types of people in social media in what he refers to as "The Game Theory":

The game theory pushes us into one of two directions: either be better at pump and dump than anyone else, get your numbers into the millions, outmass those that choose to use mass and always dance at the edge of spam (in which the number of those you offend or turn off forever keep increasing),


Relentlessly focus. Prune your message and your list and build a reputation that's worth owning and an audience that cares.

Seth refers to the former group who follow the "pump and dump" as "Junk Dealers"...for those who have spent years optimizing, competing for fundraising dollars have fought junk mail and faced this "noise" in what we call "competition in the mailbox".

Nothing ever good came from Junk Mail...the volume never helped keep paper costs or postal rates down, it made people more skeptical or less trusting of every mail piece they received, it was the cause for the inception of many 'Do Not Mail' lists on the market today.

Social networks have proven in a very short time to be very fickle media and the more we "play for numbers" the less relevant it will become and the less engaged we will be.

My suggestion, Be #bold! Be part of the small minority that generates the large majority of the content that really matters!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Your PowerPoint...Now A CRM Tool!

Came across a very interesting new product/service to make your next presentation count call PresentNow which is a platform to help facilitate the all important "2-way Dialogue" and may even help you raise more money.

From their website:

How can Present Now help non-profits and charities?

First, kudos to you. You're out to do some good in the world and we need more people like you. Ultimately, all charities need donations to carry out their mission. You've no doubt been running lots of fund raisers and you're always looking for new donors. At your next event, make sure to give potential donors the opportunity to connect with you using Present Now. Once you have their contact information you can turning those contacts into donors.

I have sat in many (not as many as I would like) presentations wanting more information, or more importantly have given several presentations and wanted more feedback.

If we are finding ways to create more conversation from our PowerPoint presentations it has to be even easier to create more conversations with our Donors!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The 80/20 Rule Is More than Just Math...

Check out my recent blog post at Merkle's DonorPower Blog and share how you are using the 80/20 rule!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Are Nonprofit Marketers Stuck Tying Our Shoes the Wrong Way

This is a great short video from Ted Talks that I think illustrates the point that we all must start focusing on challenging what has been the norm.

If you watch this and think your organization, your agency, the industry you work in has already uncovered these opportunities I suggest you look again!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Is Your Nonprofit Brand the Best It Can Be?

In today's crowded marketplace everyone is seeking ways to stand out in the mailbox or inbox? For many, this question is answered with a myriad of tests ranging from alternative package sizes, adding new components, catchy OE teasers, etc.

All of the above are "tactics" and the majority of these tactics fail when tested. So today I challenge us to think bigger.

I have read lots of good content on Branding and Mission Statements, most recently Katya's blog had a great post on improving your mission statement and I think this is one place we can definitely think bigger.

Why? Because our space is fraught with an enormous amount of brand confusion and building a great Nonprofit brand identity is a great chance to separate yourself from the rest of the market if you do it well.

What Should Every Nonprofit Brand Strive to Do?

In the book Made to Stick the Heath Brothers provide a framework for creating sticky statements called SUCCESS. In fundraising each communication presents a unique set of challenges so creating new "sticky statements" in every communication may be too much to ask but conveying a strong brand should not be and is as simple as doing the following:

1) Build Credibility
2) Generate Emotion
3) Be relevant

Said another way:

1) If I recognize your brand I will BELIEVE!
2) If I believe in your mission I will CARE!
3) If what you ask for resonates with me I will ACT!

The work required to achieve all of the above is different for every organization depending on the life stage in which you are in today.

Large, long-standing Nonprofits often have a recognizable logo (or Brand) but often struggle with finding ways to get people to act because of their size or wide array of services that dilutes their relevancy.

Conversely, small Nonprofits often lack awareness or credibility and need to get the skeptical donors to believe before they will ever give regardless of how compelling their story is.

At the End of the Day...

Above all else, your Brand sells your organization. When people buy Volvo they think "safety". When people buy from Apple they are buying "innovation", when people buy from GM or Chrysler they are buying "American"...a great brand is quickly and easily attached to some positive emotion.

Does your organizations brand have a clear identity? If not, start by asking yourself, "Why should people believe in us", "Why should people care", and "What would compel people to act". If you can answer those questions clearly you may be on your way to be the Apple of Nonprofits!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Am Back...Again

I have learned that the good (and potentially bad) news about blogging is that it is somewhat of a historical record so this "comeback" post is merely a follow up to my last post (from 2008...sigh) from my last "comeback" posts.

My motivation is not to emulate Brett Farve so Why am I back now?

I recently read through my past blog posts written several years ago and realized we sit here today facing many of the same exact problems.

We as marketers and fundraisers have not/are not innovating change despite many assertions that change is desperately needed including:

1) Charitable donations are on the decline...
2) "Direct mail is dying"
3) Telemarketing is too expensive
4) "our donors do not like email"

This industry is full of many smart marketers and fundraisers and my goal is to push forward our best NEW thinking to motivate change and move past the "this is how we've always done it" mentalitiy.

Clearly my quickly aging mind isn't dead yet (proof being I remembered my blogger password) but I do not have all the answers and I want to learn as much (or more) than I share on this platform.

Read, respond, participate...let's change world of fundraising