Fri, April 11 2008

People are lazy and in a hurry (Seth is right)

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

On my way to my daughter’s school, every morning, I pass a house that has a creche in its front yard.  It’s been there since early December.  Baby Jesus has been lingering there for the entire winter and Spring, and at this rate he may be slumbering into the summer. 

He is covered with pollen these days.

Every morning, my daughter takes note of his long, post-seasonal stay in the manger.

“It’s STILL there!” she notes.

Then she asks why.

You could attribute all kinds of interesting reasons for this never-ending nativity scene.  Maybe it’s a family that practices a particular kind of christianity.  Maybe they like the way the creche looks amid the Spring flowers and overgrown grass.  Maybe they have the Christmas spirit all year long.

Or maybe they are just lazy.  Maybe they still have their tree up inside too, because they haven’t summoned the energy to pack it up either. 

My fave marketer, Seth Godin, says you can be sure of two things about all people: they are lazy, and they are in a hurry.

We marketers like to spend a lot of time analyzing why people do some things or don’t do some things.  We think of religion, attitudes, mindsets.  But we should also be thinking of lazy.  And in a hurry. 

Maybe we’re just making it too darn hard for people to take action.

Maybe if taking action was really easy, more people would do it.

Never underestimate the importance of ease and convenience. 

Try vastly simplifying your call to action and the level of effort it requires.  See what happens.  You might get Christmas in April.

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Wed, April 09 2008

Spinal Tap liked 11% milkfat, yes?

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Want to surprise your audience into paying attention?  Here is a great example.

Suppose you’re trying to sell milk in a way that is cooler than those mustaches, which are getting old.  How about irony?  How about shades of Spinal Tap and a retro young ironic hip cool vibe?

How about… putting milk inside a guitar?  In the hands of a musical phenom by the name of White Gold?

Talk about zigging instead of zagging… You’ve got to love this Got Milk? campaign for California.

 

 

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Wed, April 09 2008

The three traits with deceptive ROI

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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It’s late, I’m tired and I’m philosophical after a death in the family.  When you think about death, you inevitably think about your life.  And that got me thinking.  There are many things I have struggled to master in life, but let me share just three from a very long list of things I haven’t fully mastered but know to be worthy of the attempt.  Before I die, I want to do them as perfectly as I can.

Why?  I think the very things that seem most difficult are often the best possible things we can do.  The things that we fear will bring us catastrophic loss are often those that have the greatest returns.  It is the way marketing - and life - mocks our silly sensibilities. 

So in that spirit, here are three things that seem risky but actually yield great ROI. And happiness.  And marketing success.

1. Admitting you are wrong.  This has been a hard one for me.  Fortunately, I have ample opportunity to practice!  Too bad 98% of politicians, 85% of corporations and a healthy majority of nonprofits are still finding this hard too.  If you make a mistake, just take responsibility and say you were wrong.  Don’t do this halfway.  “I’m sorry if you were inconvenienced” is NOT the same thing as “I’m sorry I inconvenienced you.”  True apologies don’t include the word “if.”  While you may fear admitting fault will be the end of the world, usually people are so happy you did it - and quite forgiving.  Remember this if you ever have to do “crisis communications.”

2. Doing what you fear.  No one ever achieved anything extraordinary by doing what was safe or predictable or copycat.  As hard as it is, I’m still trying to lean into fear the way my friend Jocelyn does.  Marc Pitman talks about asking for money without fear.  Seth Godin talks about being as truly different as a purple cow - which is hard when it’s easier to follow the conforming herd.  Andy Goodman talks about zigging when others are zagging.  It’s scary, but frankly, it’s far more frightening to blend into a sea of mediocrity than to stand up, do the scary, and stand out.

3. Being lavish with praise.  I used to view praise as a zero sum game—if someone else was great, I was less.  But being generous is being bigger.  Praise great work, credit everyone around you and share the spotlight.  Show extraordinary gratitude to your donors, your colleagues, everyone.  Share information freely with other organizations.  Being stingy with what you give out will diminish all that comes back to you.

What do you have trouble doing?  I am sure it is on my list too…

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Thu, April 03 2008

Bring back that (supporter’s) loving feeling

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

p1010059

Here is my April column for Fundraising Success in its entirety.

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about declining results for direct mail and flagging email open rates.  Our outreach apparently is not sparking the passionate responses we want.

Don’t our donors and prospects love us anymore?  Why don’t they take our calls?

If this is starting to sound like an “advice for the lovelorn” column, then that’s appropriate.  As fundraisers, we’ve got a lot of the same problems as the people writing Abby.  And I think our response-rate heartache is based in root causes that columnists like Abby or Amy or Carolyn so often cite.  Really.  The relationship we have with our donors and prospects is not transactional; it’s deeply human.  When it goes wrong, it’s for the same fundamental reasons we may find strain in our other relationships, like taking someone for granted, not listening to their perspective, and neglecting to show them our feelings.

I’m going to prove it right in this column.

Dear Marketing Maven,

My email list isn’t what it used to be.  People aren’t listening to me anymore, and each time I ask for their help, they are less responsive.  Why doesn’t my list love me anymore?

—Despairing in Development

Dear Despairing,

I suspect you’re getting the silent treatment for three reasons.  First, you could be a stalker.  Do you have permission to email your list?  Are these people who’ve said they want to hear from you?  If not, don’t expect them to greet your spammy self with open arms.  Second, I suspect you’ve probably been taking some of your list for granted.  Just because some people were once generous doesn’t mean you can keep asking for more and more.  You need to be giving back – thanking that list and showing it a great time with fabulous stories about the great things it has accomplished.  Make it feel loved.  Third, are you really connecting with your list and its feelings, or are you just talking about yourself all the time?  Nothing turns off a list like narcissism, and nothing turns it on like showing your emotional side and appealing to its perspective.  My advice?  Only reach out to your list when you have permission.  Treat your list with great care and gratitude.  Start a true conversation with your list and be responsive to its feelings.  Chocolates and flowers may help too.

—Maven

Dear Marketing Maven,

My teenage daughter has a pierced nose and I hate it!  But she won’t listen to me when I tell her to remove it, or when I tell her what to wear.  How do I get her to listen to me?  Oh, and please tell me how to get all those young people on social networks to listen to me, too.

—Floundering on Facebook

Dear Floundering,

A family friend (let’s call him Dan) recently told me his daughter called from college to say she’d pierced her nose.  She conveyed this news with defiant glee.  Dan said that sounded nice, to which his daughter sounded disappointed.  When she came home for winter break, he picked her up at the airport—wearing a big fake hoop through his nose.  She removed her nose stud that night.  My point?  You’ve got the wrong message.  If you have a rebellion on your hands, stop being the autocrat everyone is longing to overthrow.

Which brings me to a larger point: In addition to having the wrong message, you’re the wrong messenger.  Social networks are no place for an autocrat – they are messy democracies and even anarchies.  They are not places where you post your mission statement and expect everyone to flock to your page to await your orders.  They are places where people congregate to be seen and heard themselves and to connect to each other.  You need to listen to these folks, not talk at them.  And you need to recognize that you’re not the primary messenger; all those other people are.  Some of these people might already be talking about your cause or be willing to champion it within their own circles of influence.  These are the messengers you want.  You need to find them (easy with Technorati.com or Google.com/alerts tools), support them, and let them speak for you – in their own words, in their own way.  Even if they have multiple piercings.

—Maven

Dear Marketing Maven,

I feel like I’m always playing catch-up with the cool crowd.  First, it was those wrist bands.  So I got one for my cause, but no one is wearing mine.  And then it was blogging.  Once I figured out what it was, I had my ED start a blog because this other ED had one, but no one is really reading ours.  How does a poor org like mine get ahead of the style curve and stop feeling left behind? 

—Can’t Catch Up

Dear Can’t,

You are falling into the most common trap in our sector: playing copycat.  Stop it!  You don’t get ahead by being like other orgs – you get ahead by 1.) focusing on your audience and what they want (instead of what other organizations are doing) and 2.) being your unique self in front of that audience.  Don’t throw wristbands and blogs at your audiences unless that’s what they want AND unless those things are completely aligned with what makes you special in your audiences’ minds.  We don’t win popularity contests by reacting to our competitors but rather by outperforming them in meeting our audience’s needs and wants.  Focus on being cool in your audience’s minds, not in the marketplace.  You do that by focusing on what’s important to your audience, what are your strengths, and what makes you – not the organization next door – truly special.

—Maven

 

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Tue, April 01 2008

Some inspiration - no joke

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

 

Visit this week’s carnival - hosted by fave colleague Mark Rovner at the SeaChange Strategies blog here!  Topic: inspiration.

I also recommend Jeff Brooks on panhandlers as copywriters.

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