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How NOT to Raise Money for Charity or Anything Else

Marketing

I want to share a story close to my… house. Just yesterday I received a hand addressed letter in the mail from a neighbor. Someone I haven’t met or talked to even once. I couldn’t pick this person out of a line up. They live a few houses down from me. I realize this says more about me than them, but let’s focus on this teachable moment:

I open the letter and inside I find 2 components. One is a self-stamped envelope addressed to March of Dimes. The other is a foldable brochure that once unfolded has a preprinted letter inside. At the top the handwritten letters spell “Neighbor” and across the bottom it is signed.

I don’t want to be too harsh here; you and I spend hours on end marketing our businesses. This person has probably never marketed anything in his or her life. They probably went to some meeting where the leader told them to do exactly this in order to get donations.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to be learned:

1. Use ALL the information you have when marketing.

The person addressed the envelope with my name along with my address. If you have a person’s name, use it in your correspondence. Even the most basic email marketing programs have this [Name] feature for personalization. And with the help of social media you know WAY more about your clients than you ever wanted to know. Check out this post about Brian Solis’ latest book for more details.

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2. Use multiple touchpoints.

I’ve never seen this person’s face or heard their voice before. That’s bad marketing. Instead of blasting a bunch of potential clients or neighbors with a single piece of advertising, try to court them. For example, if this person had invited me to a barbeque or walked up to me at a neighborhood meeting before sending me this card I would be more inclined to donate. In your marketing efforts use everything at your fingertips. Choose 5 or 25 people a week to meet on social media, call on the phone, comment on their blog and send an email. If you touch them at multiple points from multiple avenues they will feel pursued. People like feeling pursued, it makes them want to spend more time (and money) with you and your products.

3. Target based on logic.

I have no idea how this person got my name. It could be she found a list of recent Team in Training participants that I was on. Or, she could have just written to all the people in our neighborhood. The first step is to make a logical choice in your target audience. This could be people buying similar products or having related interests. The second step is letting that person know you have a connection. For example, if the handwritten note had included, “Saw your name on recent Team in Training participants list and thought you might be interested in this charity as well” I would DEFINITELY have made a donation. Not to mention I would also make an effort to reach out to my new potential friend. She is just a few doors down :)

4. Show some effort

All of these things indicate effort on your part as the marketer. People don’t respond to SPAM because they recognize the lack of effort on the part of the person sending it. It’s the same reason spelling errors drop conversion rates. If you can’t put in the time to polish your product, why should people put their money into buying it? It’s obvious that the person sending me this card wrote “Neighbor” across the top and signed the bottom all at once to save her some time. Then she addressed the outside of envelopes one by one. Don’t get me wrong, I love efficiency as much as the next person. But, this set up shows me that I (and my donation) am not seen as valuable by this person.

The two charities mentioned in this post are both beyond reputable and awesome. And though I am pointing out mistakes in the marketing of a certain person, it shouldn’t detract from the powerful impact these charities make. Check out March of Dimes and Team in Training. If you donate, please leave a comment below for some commentluv, backlink love, and some serious love from me. There’s no shame in touting your awesomeness! I’ll even arrange a free blog post for your business from my fantastic staff!

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