I recently tried a simple marketing concept at work. A well-regarded faculty member was celebrating his 60th birthday and he didn’t want his friends, relatives or former students to send him presents or wish him well on his birthday.
Instead, he wanted them to donate to a scholarship endowment to help students who faced hardships during their externships.
I talked to the professor and came up with a simple idea. Why don’t we highlight the professor’s age and encourage everyone to donate a minimum of $60 on his 60th birthday? Next, we focused on identifying the best medium to disseminate his message. The professor, a great Peanuts fan, had an office adorned with Schulz and his characters. We created a simple, yet humorous e-blast featuring a Peanuts character and a message from the Professor urging well-wishers to donate $60 to the scholarship.
We planned two dates to disseminate the e-blast. The first was send a week before his 60th and the other hit in-boxes three days before his birthday. The idea worked and over 50 individuals gave varying amounts to the endowment.
This effort generated many well-intentioned conversations. The Professor felt proud and said he couldn’t have got a better 60th birthday present than the response from his friends, former students and relatives. We made a simple iphone thank you video and emailed it to all who donated and they also received a hand written note.
Sometimes, simple marketing ideas generate larger conversations. They create deeper impact than complex, metrics driven content marketing.
On either side of the Atlantic, the wisdom you get to build relationships with your donors is interesting to learn. This came true when Professor Ian Bruce, President, Center for Charity Effectiveness at London’s Cass Business School talked about the theory and practice of building effective relationships.
According to Prof. Bruce, successful relationship building has four components: establishing relationships, strengthening relationships, customer appreciation and relationship strategies. In American terms, this means relationship building, stewardship and ongoing donor communications.
You scan your environment to seek out the most influential people interested in your cause. Engage them well, pay close attention to their needs and consider them the most important people in your network. Prof. Bruce advises that you must be ready to talk about the negative things that are happening at your organization and how you are trying to fix them. What are the pillars that need to be strengthened?
Often, most of us forget the common sense initiatives we need to take to build relationships. This includes reliability (deliver what you promised), responsiveness (give prompt service always), assurance (convey trust and confidence), empathy (a caring attitude), and always make sure that you provide the best tangible experience of your assets.
Sometimes, giving up top spots allotted to your CEO or leadership to high value customers will help strengthen relationships. According to Prof. Bruce, this will help you build financial and social bonding with your high value customer.
His highly acclaimed book “Charity Marketing: Delivering Income, Campaigns and Services,” elaborates on the theory and practice of building effective nonprofit marketing strategies.