Fri, May 06 2011

No direct relationships = no future

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

The title of this post is a quote from Mitch Joel of the Six Pixels of Separation blog.  Joel recently discussed the future of marketing in this post, and he says it comes down to direct relationships:

Here are the key points he makes:

1. Social media is not push advertising but rather an opportunity to have real interactions between real people. “A consumer that hits a “like” or “follow” button is opening up the opportunity to have a direct relationship with a brand. If all the brand does is blast back offers and specials, we’re not pushing towards direct relationships… we’re pushing towards broadcast advertising (in a new channel),” he says.

2. “The next five years are going to be about these direct relationships,” says Joel.  Brands can’t just look at how many people are in their database - they have to look at the individuals with it and forge connections at a personal level.

3. “We have the technology. We have the data. We have the new media channels and platforms. We have the opportunity to publish whatever we want - in text, images, audio and video - instantly (and for free) to the world. What we do with this moment will be telling,” he concludes.

So what does this mean to nonprofit marketing and supporter engagement?  A lot.  Take what Joel says and multiply it by ten when applying it to our sector.  Here’s why:

1. People usually support a cause because of a deep, personal, emotional connection with it or the person who asked them to help the cause. 

2. This means the appetite and expectations for direct relationships with your organization are huge—far beyond affinity with a commercial brand.

3. That means the onus is on us to treat these supporters not as a database but as individuals.  We have to recognize and resonate with their values and interests.  We need to build direct relationships - because it’s expected and because it’s never been more possible given technology and social media.

The successful brands - and nonprofits - of the next five years will be those that shift from broadcast approaches to conversation, from promotion to engagement, and from mass approaches to individual relationships.  That’s hard work, but if we don’t do it, nothing will work.

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