Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Do You Have My Number?

Amazon.com has got my number.  Here's a quick story.

On Saturday, I received the email below.

"Jocelyn, We have recommendations for you.  Are you looking for something in our Business & Investing books department?  If so, you might be interested in these items."


Wow! I just finished reading both of these books!  The interesting thing is that I did not purchase them from Amazon.  However, I have shared hyperlinks with two friends and clearly they are recording every move I make in their massive database.

The email continues. 

"Jocelyn, you might also be interested in these titles."


Well, what do you know - they're right!  These books are right up my alley.

So guess what? I purchased both books via my phone. Two minute transaction. Two NEW books coming in the mail.  Done!

Contrast this stellar experience with a communication I received yesterday from a nonprofit.  It included a form letter and an annual report thanking me for being a "strategic supporter" and encouraging me to review the photos and stories enclosed.  No specific "ask."

Here's the problem.

1. I haven't donated any money or time to this group.  Thus, I'm definitely not a "strategic supporter." (What is a strategic supporter anyway?)
 
2. There was nothing in this communications that benefitted ME!  

"Hey Jocelyn, look at what we accomplished last year."
"Hey Jocelyn, read our stories of impact."
"Hey Jocelyn, look at how much money we raised."
"Hey Jocelyn, meet our new ED."  
3. There is nothing for me to DO with this communication.

My first feeling was disappointment.  Why waste so much money on this mailing?  Then I just got mad.

Now I know that even the most sophisticated and well-endowed nonprofits will never rival Amazon.  Being able to target your communications by INDIVIDUAL is VERY expensive.  That said, a short personal note penned by Executive Director, with a link to the annual report on their site, would have made a bigger impact on me and saved them money to boot!

Also, talking at me vs. to me is SO not compelling.  NOTE: Amazon does not have the corner on customer-centric communications.  Make the choice today to ensure that every communication that leaves your desk makes an effort to build a RELATIONSHIP with someone.  Don't make people feel like bystanders at your main event.

Here are some ideas:
  • Write handwritten notes.
  • Invite donors to a special teleconference with your Board Chair or Executive Director.  Better yet, invite donors to hear directly from a volunteer or someone your organization serves.
  • Send a survey asking your donors how, when and what they want to hear from you and then act on this information.
  • CALL your donors and thank them for their loyalty and support.
Finally, in addition to donating money, give people something to DO with your communications.  Offer some sort of benefit exchange.

Do you have my number?  Do you know what MOVES me and what turns me off? 

Hint: I'm not that complicated.  Collect data on what I read and what I ignore.  Notice when I give and when I don't.  Also, talk to me in a personal way.  Let me know that you value my contributions and how we are making history TOGETHER.  This is the only way to bond me to your nonprofit and encourage me to be more hopeful, generous and engaged.

Cheers!

Jocelyn

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