By Lisa Kaneff, Beaconfire
Professional fundraisers can sound a bit like Tom Cruise in the 1996 film, Jerry Maguire.
We beg every visitor to our nonprofit website: “Show me the money!”
We demand of every banner ad clicker: “Show me the money!”
We ask our online donors and offline donors… over and over again.
But there’s another quote from Jerry Maguire that I offer to you, my fellow direct marketing professionals, that I hope will change your perspective on non-profit marketing and fundraising campaigns: “You had me at hello.”
The path of engagement with your organization is ever-evolving in this multi-channel, multi-platform, multi-screen world. A constituent’s experience may start with a direct marketing mail piece delivered to their mailbox. They may have seen a banner ad while reading the news online. Perhaps their friend shared a post on Facebook or Twitter — a little earned social media marketing.
Because that constituent may encounter your organization for the first time on any of a multitude of channels or platforms, it is imperative that you grab their attention from the start. A strong message, a compelling story, and memorable images or infographics give users a reason to stop what they’re doing and pay attention, planting a seed in their heart and mind.
But it doesn’t mean they are going to do a darn thing – no matter how great your campaign is. The time may just not be right.
Just like in the movie, the process of building a relationship with online donors takes time. More often than not, constituents won’t make a donation the first time they learn about an organization. But lucky for us, they’ll be back! Users don’t just stop after visiting one website or one social network — they can and will encounter your organization over and over again until one day — and we know it happens — the scales tip and they are inspired to take action.
Let’s play a game. Take off your direct marketing and fundraising hat for a moment. Think back to the last banner ad you clicked on as a consumer. Where had you seen that brand before? And how many times? Had you seen a commercial or PSA on television? Had they popped up in your Google search results? Have you been receiving their emails — but perhaps become blind to them — as they popped into your email inbox time and time again? And more importantly, what was different when you decided to take action?
Over a few days this summer, direct marketers will meet up at the Bridge Conference to do exercises just like this one. To think critically about how we can better engage our audiences wherever and everywhere we encounter them. And encourage each other as peers to consider if what we ask of our constituents is how we would behave given the same circumstances. This kind of conference experience is critical to staying on the pulse of consumer and donor behavior, and therefore how to leverage new technologies and creative solutions for fundraising success.
Look, getting married after a blind date is a laughable proposition. But getting a second date after making a great impression on your blind date is far more likely. And that is what we direct marketing professionals should keep in mind as we court our constituents through our cross-channel campaigns.
Capture and delight your constituents, and then court them with a consistent, compelling story in every channel, online and offline. Then, every time a constituent sees you it’s not like another blind date. It’s another nudge to committing to show you the money!
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