By Donna Tschiffely, Direct Marketing Association of Washington
For-profit direct marketers and non-profit fundraisers face the same marketing challenges, and while there are differences between the two groups, I see the commonalities every day.
As the executive director of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW), I have the good fortune of working for members who are professional for-profit direct marketers and non-profit fundraisers. While I am constantly switching terminology as I speak with an individual from their respective industry (donors vs. customers, donations vs. sales, leads vs. acquisition, potaytoh vs. potahtoh!) it is easily established that both groups of professionals use similar strategies and tactics and have to deal daily with the same marketing challenges.
A major discussion could be had as to which sector has the harder job – the for-profit that is selling something tangible or the non-profit fundraiser that is “selling” something non-tangible.
Frankly, each one has their work cut out for them and, most times, the biggest differentiator is resources. For-profits usually have more of them and non-profits are challenged to do more with considerably less.
What unifies them?
For-profit direct marketers and non-profit fundraisers use the exact same direct response marketing channels to persuade individuals to buy and/or give. Direct mail, DRTV, e-mail, telemarketing, special events, DR radio and more, are all very viable response-generating tools. The latest digital tools such as social media marketing, mobile marketing, web and online are still evolving; yet they have become major components in most every direct marketer’s and fundraiser’s campaign.
So what are the biggest challenges faced today by direct marketers and fundraisers?
Thorin McGee, Executive Editor, of Target Marketing magazine, who will be speaking at the 8th Annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference (aka BridgeConference) says, “From the point of view of marketing budgets and trends, I think the biggest challenge marketers are facing is attribution: Which parts of your marketing spending should be expanded and which parts should be pulled back?”
Attribution is so important whether you are non-profit or for-profit. A successful marketing campaign is a multi-channel campaign, but do you know which channel is working? For example, when a direct mail piece is sent to an individual and that person goes online to buy or donate, do you know what finally “landed the sell”? Did the print piece emotionally move the individual to use the convenience of online to buy or donate? Or did the individual read the print piece, go online to read more and the WOW factor to close the deal became the website?
Years ago, when for-profit direct marketers and non-profit fundraisers were primarily direct mail professionals, it was far easier to track metrics. Today though, digital technology has blurred those lines.
For example, a channel like social media may not directly drive high rates of conversions and sales, but has clear value in terms of branding, prospect/donor nurturing, customer relationship management and donor stewardship.
What digital does give direct marketers and fundraisers is flexibility. Craig Hanna, eConsultancy training director and also a speaker at the Bridge Conference indicates that, “The need to create agile marketing organizations is key in a digital world. This will be one of THE competitive advantages in the next few years.”
How agile should a firm or organization be? For example, when a “shiny new digital tool” is introduced on the market – do you immediately implement it?
Lisa Manhart, executive vice president of Ventura Marketing & Promotion, who will be speaking about gamification at the Bridge Conference, says the first thing a company or non-profit needs to do is ask what does the new tool do to move transactions/product or increase donations.
Manhart believes that many companies have incorporated “gamification” into their marketing plans for the sake of “being relevant or cool” but never once stopped to ask what it will do to increase sales and donations. The challenge, again, will be to figure out how to measure success.
In today’s integrated, multi-channel marketing world, it appears one of the major challenges shared by direct marketers and fundraisers is measurement – and there is no other word for that! The analytics of one campaign become the strategic foundation for the next.
Attribution, measurement and other challenges shared by for-profit direct marketers and non-profit fundraisers will be addressed at the 8th Annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference being held July 31-August 2.
Over 1,500 professionals will descend on the Gaylord National Hotel outside of Washington, DC; eager to hear from the more than 150 speakers who will offer best practices, case studies and share ideas that can be used by both the for-profit direct marketer and the fundraiser.
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