“But My Prospects Are Different”

I hear this all the time: “My prospects are sophisticated and they have to be treated differently.” My answer is they are human and are no different than any other being.

If you feel your prospects are “really different,” chances are you’re hanging out with a few sophisticated (and detail-
oriented) donors and making assumptions about the rest. My hunch is that you are alienating a majority with financial advice and high-brow messaging.

I recall when the Director of Development at an Ivy League law school told me about a prospect who did not understand how planned gifts work, and for this simple reason was ignoring his messaging. The interesting thing about this prospect is that she is an Ivy grad who makes $1.8 million a year as a litigator. She’s no dummy. And yet, she didn’t “get” what the office of development was trying to get across.

Your prospects are not different.

You think you are marketing to a sophisticated crowd. But those same people are also giving to their church, synagogue, social services agency, and the SPCA around the corner. And I guarantee you these places don’t use sophisticated, highbrow marketing — the kind you think you should be using.
And they are happily, deservingly, getting part of your share.

Your prospects are not different.

They are simply… well, human. I don’t care whether you are Harvard or an AIDS clinic in small town USA — you are appealing to human beings.

Ditch the insider lingo and high-brow marketing and remember that people are people, no matter their income level or string of initials after their name. Instead of spewing facts, tell a story. People love stories. People love simple things. My dad who was a surgeon all his life only cared about his garden for the past 15 years. He’d argue about the best way to grow a tomato. And watched tacky reruns of comedy shows from the 50s. This is my philosophy and this is why I tailor our products to appeal to “simple people.”

I just love simplicity (am I repeating myself?), and this one simple philosophy is ingrained in all of our products 
and services.

This one issue of Planned Giving Tomorrow is full of tips on how to make authentic connections and tell an effective story. Read Jim Friedman’s article for helpful conversational language. Check out the book review on page 6 for more on the power of telling a good story. 
In fact, read the whole magazine!