- Mon, May 07 2012
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
We’re in an era when consumers are quick to revolt, and they get rewarded for rebelling. Think of Bank of America customers angry over fees, Verizon customers upset about being charged to pay bills online and Netflix customers apoplectic over price and policy changes. All three companies had to make amends after a tsunami of (mainly online) fury.
A new article from The Conference Board Review chronicles these examples in a story by John Buchanan and lays out some recommendation for what to do when you’re facing a decision likely to be unpopular. I think it holds good lessons for nonprofit marketing and fundraising folks.
1. Talk to your constituency. If you’re making a big decision, it’s a good idea to find out people feel about it. It may be more controversial than you think. And before making a controversial call, it’s good to know just how controversial it will be. Ask your most important audiences how they feel about your organization and the issue at hand. A little research is better than a lot of assumptions.
2. Listen to your chief contrarian. If someone is raising the red flag on something you are about to do, listen. Groupthink can overwhelm a lone voice of reason if you’re not careful. Before you dismiss a devil’s advocate, make sure you aren’t missing a valid concern.
3. Make sure your decisions are simple, transparent and fair. People often get angry because they feel a decision was disingenuous or secretive. Be open about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
4. Try not to spring it on people. If you’re doing something controversial, do some outreach first. People hate unpleasant surprises.
5. If you infuriate people, empathize. If people are upset with your organization, you should be responsive. Don’t ignore their feelings and don’t get defensive. Make them feel heard and show you listened - and be quick about it. Radio silence on your part will only makes the noise of protest all the louder.