Testimonials from happy customers (as well as donors and beneficiaries) have long been a staple of marketing, advertising and fundraising.

But with the advent of “consumer-generated-media” on the internet, the marketing initiative shifts to the “do it yourself” consumer. The net effect, as the Washington Post observes in Putting the I in Advertising, is that we market to ourselves.

The Post article cites companies like Converse, M&Ms (“finding one's inner M”!), Ban deodorant, Blentec (“will it blend?”), Geico and Cadillac, who are inviting customers to create the brands in their own image or even create their own ads.

Says the Post:

Brands express what we aspire to be and what we believe about ourselves, in a kind of commercial shorthand. Aspirations — for beauty and coolness and status and joy — are the stuff of brand loyalty … Brands are our culture …

So, if a person posts a photo of herself with her Cadillac on the company website, she doesn't do it for the company. She does it for herself.

Notice that this is all about emotional gratification … feelings.

What emotional gratification are you providing your donors? How would they express it if you gave them the chance — with their own audio and video — on your nonprofit's website?

Why not give them the chance and see what happens? You might find yourself awash in compelling testimonials. Post them prominently on your website, on social netorking sites, embed them in your email appeals and e-newsletters. Learn from them a better way to talk about your nonprofit and its needs and accomplishments.

In short, take your testimonials to a new level.

Roger & Tom

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