Thu, August 22 2013

Why you may need to reboot

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Branding • Marketing essentials •

Ctrl Alt Delete Book CoverIn Ctrl Alt Delete Mitch Joel issues a wake-up call for those that may find themselves lost in a rapidly evolving landscape of technology, media, and marketing. Joel, president of the digital marketing agency Twist Image, offers sharp insights on how these changes affect the way we learn, shop, communicate, and work. It’s an important reality check for nonprofit marketers because these factors directly affect how supporters and partners will interact with your cause. Organizations that understand and adapt to these new opportunities will thrive, while those who resist will find themselves struggling to connect with donors in the years to come.

The book starts off with one of the most critical lessons for any marketer, especially those working in the nonprofit sector: embracing the shift toward more direct relationships with your consumers (donors), is no longer optional. People now have more access to information about your nonprofit, your impact, and *you* than ever before. Organizations and supporters are at each other’s fingertips, so it’s impossible (and unwise) to avoid direct contact with those who are interested in your work. Online or off, focus on creating and building relationships to succeed in raising money, spreading your message, and serving your cause. By the way, these relationships should be the two-way street kind. If you’re only broadcasting messages focused on your organization’s needs, you may need a reboot.

Here are four tactics Mitch Joel recommends for building those direct relationships, and what they mean for your nonprofit.

1) Deliver value.
Stand out and earn loyalty by first providing value to your supporters. Of course, you’re doing great work for the people and communities you serve, but if you’re not building long-term relationships with potential supporters, you’re missing out on a bigger opportunity. How do you do this? Start by focusing more on providing valuable resources to the people you’re trying to reach, instead of only talking about your needs.


2) Be open.
You can’t build meaningful relationships without trust and transparency. This is paramount for nonprofits. Donors won’t fork over their hard-earned cash to support your cause if they aren’t sure where the money goes. Show that you are an organization they can trust by being open about how your organization is run and how you use donated funds. Welcome questions and be upfront and honest if you make a mistake. Hiding in the shadows only makes people nervous, which is not a great relationship-building vibe.


3) Be clear and consistent.
Do donors know what they can expect from your nonprofit? Can they count on you for all the right reasons? Review your organization’s outreach to make sure you’re saying what you think you’re saying. Consistency also includes communicating with your donors on a regular basis to help them feel involved in your work. This means not waiting to reach out to supporters when you’re looking for gifts in December.


4) Focus on fans.
Joel says, “The majority of people do not want to friend or like your brand. They use their social graphs for friends, family, and those they made fun of in high school.” Ouch! My guess is that many nonprofits may have it a little easier than most corporate brands, but it’s important to remember. Rather than working to get as many “Likes” as possible, focus instead on providing value through your social media content and focus on your truly passionate superfans. Put these champions to work spreading the message about what you do and why it matters.

Of course, these suggestions are just the tip of the reboot iceberg. Ctrl Alt Delete delivers plenty of juicy nuggets for all marketers to heed. What aspect of your outreach or fundraising strategy would you like to reboot?

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