Tue, April 15 2008

It pays to be personal

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Inside Influence Report, one of my favorite newsletters from the great gang at ASU, reminds us once again why it pays to be personal. 

Here’s the story, from Noah Goldstein:

I have a friend who is a medical doctor. Nicest guy in the world. Will do, and has done, anything for anybody. So I was totally perplexed — and as a social psychologist, very interested — when I learned he was having difficulty finding someone to cover his shift on the weekend of my wedding. I asked him if he had ever volunteered to take his colleagues’ shifts, and he replied that indeed he had. Considering all he had done in the past to help them, and all that we know about the power of the norm of reciprocation, it was puzzling that he could not get a single person to volunteer to help him out during his time of need. By the time he had answered my next question, however, the solution to the mystery was clear.

When I inquired how he went about asking for help, he said that he had sent out an e-mail. And it wasn’t just any of type of e-mail — it was a mass e-mail, in which all of the recipients could see all the other recipients.

The problem with this strategy is that it creates what is called diffusion of responsibility. By sending out the mass e-mail in a way that made visible the large number of coworkers being asked, no one single individual felt personally responsible for helping. Instead, each recipient likely assumed that someone else on that list would agree to help. In a classic demonstration of diffusion of responsibility, social psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latané staged a situation in which a student seemed to be having an epileptic seizure during a study. When a single bystander was present, that person helped approximately 85% of the time. But when five bystanders were present — all of whom were located in separate rooms, so no one could be certain if the victim was receiving help — only 31% of the bystanders helped.

Fortunately for this friend, Noah Goldstein knew what to do.  He told the doctor to send personal emails asking individual people specifically.  It worked.  The doctor attended the wedding.

The more your “asks” appear to be made from you, personally and directly, to an individual,  the more likely people will support you.  So segment your audience.  Show you know them.  Speak to them like individuals.  Try some one-on-one contact with your biggest supporters.  Mass, impersonal, Dear Friend emails just won’t do the same job.  Just ask the doctor.

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Tue, April 15 2008

Strut, don’t simper, when you ask

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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My favorite pink paper, the Financial Times, had an editorial this weekend by v3’s Robert Egger.  Check it out if you missed it.

The gist (and I quote):

In you were savvy enough to have invested $1,000 in Microsoft when it went public in 1986, the value of your stock today would be close to $½m.

But what if you had invested the same amount in a high-performing non-profit group; one that could show measurable, financial impact in your community? All you would have been eligible for is a one-off tax deduction.

Think boldly for a moment. Imagine if there was a way to measure and then reward strategic investments in non-profits in the form of an annual and potentially growing tax deduction based on the same rate of return principle as the dividend. Imagine how that would revolutionise the productivity of non-profits, as well as create an incentive for individuals to seek out and support some of the most dynamic social and economic stimulators in their communities.

More importantly, since Americans donated $295bn to non-profits in 2006, while businesses spent $1.2bn on cause-related marketing to trumpet their philanthropy, a shift like this might also lead to coverage of the sector with the same level of critical analysis that is afforded traditional businesses.

Imagine how this might challenge the entire notion of “charity” in the US and usher in a bold new era of social and economic innovation.

What I like about this kind of idea is it fundamentally shifts the way we think about ourselves.  Are we charities seeking handouts or are we the best damn investment anyone could make in their community?  Try to put on this kind of mental strut (work it!) next time you compose an “ask” of any kind.  Your results are worth bragging about, and they are worth a reward for your

donors

investors.

Don’t beg.  Strut your ROI till the policymakers listen.

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Fri, April 11 2008

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

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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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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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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