Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Time is Your Biggest Competitor

I listened to a fascinating interview today on NPR with Tina Brown, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast/Newsweek.

The interviewer asked Ms. Brown if Time magazine was still Newsweek's biggest competitor.  She replied, "our biggest competitor is not Time magazine it's people's time." Here is a quote from the transcript of the interview.
Brown says her goal for Newsweek isn't for it to beat its longtime rival Time magazine, but instead to compete with the many media outlets that vie for readers' attention.

The goal, she says, is to be "a must-read."

"That has always been true, actually, of everything I've edited," Brown says. "I've always felt it's not about this particular publication 'scooping' us.'

"It's really about, 'How do I make people want to pick this up at all?'"
Ms. Brown's pronouncement has big implications for nonprofits, especially the ones with the smallest budgets.

  • How do you ensure that your website, annual report, snail mail and emails are a "must-read?"
  • How do you actively compete for the attention of all of your prospective donors, volunteers, members and advocacy supporters?
  • How do you WOW your donors and capture their time and interest on a consistent basis?  
These are very difficult question to answer in our time-starved, always-on culture. Still, they must be addressed. 

Face it.  People have VERY LITTLE time or attention for you and the work you do.  Thus, you must be ruthlessly focused on giving them GREAT REASONS to engage again and again.

Here are four tips for competing against time. 

1. Know thy audience!  This is a no-brainer, but unless you know your donors, volunteers, members, etc. intimately you'll never know how to COMMUNICATE with them.  What do they need/want/desire?  Why do they work with you?

2. Enhance your creative.  Start by de-cluttering your website.  Make it really EASY for people who don't know anything about you to GET IT and FAST.  When it comes to writing copy, spend some time developing really interesting prose and perfecting your subject lines.  Keep your online copy short and get to the point.  Don't be afraid of humor. 

3. Ask why?  Have a dialog vs. a monologue (Boo!) with your best fans and members.  Invite them to comment (heck, even drive) your work.  And, when they do respond immediately!

4. Be first.  Follow the news cycle and stay abreast of political discourse and popular culture.  Take advantage of the times when your issue(s) are in the news by making your own news, quickly.  Do not let your "golden moments" get hijacked by a laborious editorial and content approval process.

People don't have time to waste and neither do you.  Time is your biggest competitor.  Can you beat it?



DisplayPop- the #1 Online Money Maker said...
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Mazarine said...

I like the idea that time is your competitor.

I'd also add relevance to this list.

You may be first on a story, but if it's a story no one cares about, it won't matter.

Building community should be on the list too. I know you said, "Ask why" but it's more than that. It's showing your community members that you care about them, retweeting them and having a dialog with them too, on Twitter and other places. Reaching out to people before they comment, like when they sign up for your newsletter, for example, is the perfect time to engage them in discussion.

Finally, I think you were saying "User Interface Design" when you said "Enhance the Creative." Humor and UID are really two separate things. At least, usually.

anyway, thank you for this post, I think as content on the net continues to proliferate at a staggering rate, we're going to have to keep being "a must read" at the forefront of all that we write. Good reminder.