Thursday 22 January 2009

Top3: what charity marketers can teach their commercial peers

Admittedly, there is a swathe of charity marketing that is muddled, wasteful and not strategic.

However, it would be grossly inaccurate to deny that in many instances, charity marketers use more sophisticated and more effective techniques than their commercial counterparts.

This is the first in a series of 'Top3' posts, in pairs, using the format ‘what A can teach B', followed by, 'what B can teach A’.

Here’s my suggested trio of things the Dark Side could learn from non-profit marketers.

Basic, huh? But how many times have you received communication from companies who appear to pay no attention to who you are?

There are so many good examples from charity marketing to draw on, but one in particular comes to mind.

A couple of years ago Bluefrog’s data planners started introducing ‘ultra-personalisation’ with various clients. This is where each mailing, telephone script or digital communication contains details personalised to that individual.

From a simple reference to the number of years the donor has supported, to relating the number of doctors in a large rural area in Uganda to the equivalent number of doctors in the nearest town to where the donor lives, this has steadily increased value across the donor spectrum.

I have been banking online for nearly a decade. Every year of that with the Co-operative Bank. Why, then do I still get statements or letters through the post with leaflets promoting online banking?

Here’s an idea, Co-op: split the mailing into two segments; A. already bank online, B. don’t bank online. Marginal increase in production costs but a saving on print and a saving on customer irritation.

Of course, the likes of Tesco do segment - into many thousands of distinct segments in their case - and create carefully tailored messaging to each segment.

But charity appeals are among the most consistently complex and effective models of segmentation. Not only are donors split by simple value bands, they are also often segmented by recency, type of giving, number of relationships, contact preferences, age and propensity. Among many more.

At Bluefrog, we have for several years also advocated segmentation by low-value and mid/high-value donors. The proposition is often the same, but when served different creative, the latter group responds radically differently.

Although costs increase, net income always goes up – sometimes doubling.

Early commercial models include BA’s Club World, but such communication products are still relatively rare.

Give to charity and you get a warm feeling. Some charities mess it up, by bombarding donors or conveying wastefulness, but on the whole, people know they will feel good if they give (through meeting their donor needs).

Charities who really tap into that do so by calling on a host of techniques – perhaps most importantly of all being the thank you.

Send the same generic thank you time after time, and donors will switch off. The best charity marketers know that, and certainly at Bluefrog we advise a fresh thank you letter be written with each new appeal or communication, to be ready as soon as the gifts begin arriving.

If you buy a new car, you expect a certain level of attention – although a fawning, sickly ego stroke takes it too far.

But imagine if commercial marketers said ‘thank you’ with every purchase, in the same way even a small donation is received with gratitude by most non-profits? Particularly online, there is so much scope for personalised, relevant thank yous and feedback requests – why, then, do so many insist on regurgitating the ‘transaction confirmed’ messages they wrote in 1998?!

What do you think? Which aspects of non-profit marketing would make it into your top three?


Anonymous said...

Matt, what ARE you on about??



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