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.Ms. Brown's pronouncement has big implications for nonprofits, especially the ones with the smallest budgets.
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?'"
- 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?
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?