Marketing maestro Seth Godin has a thought-provoking post called “in the middle, Starting.” His bottomline: “Starbucks doesn't start all over again when someone walks in, and neither does your church.”

Now he was relating his comments chiefly to the bloggers world.

But the point is an interesting one for non-profit marketers. What do you presume your newest member or donor or activist actually knows about your organization? And how do you continue the conversation they have invited you to have with them?

Many of you have probably used a “hot” theme or issue in your prospecting letter or email to entice their initial hand-raising. But what you really want is for them to support your institution … tons of non-profit marketing data support the fact that “institutional” donors outlast “topical” ones. And so, your next contacts with these folks are typically used to begin telling your institution's story. And here's where I don't think Seth's “Starbucks principle” applies.

The unfortunate fact is that very, very, very few non-profits have the level of brand recognition (to say nothing of accurate brand knowledge or perceptions) that would let them assume that their new member knows diddlysquat about their triumphant past. So my advice, treat your newest donor as though they have just stepped on planet Earth. This doesn't mean you need to push a mountain of information at them (e.g., a “Welcome” e-newsletter with some compelling links might get the job done); it does mean that you need to take the time to firmly establish your bona fides. And if it were my organization and my donor, I start with my brief elevator speech on past RESULTS.

Remember, since non-profit marketers are (should be) by definition database marketers, you have the tools to engage those new folks directly and with relevance on a one-to-one basis, without the risk of boring your loyal veterans. So don't start in the middle if you want to hang on to those new members you just spent your shirt on to acquire!

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This article was posted in: Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Online fundraising and marketing.
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