Edgy Marketing vs. Vanilla Marketing

You Can’t Do Both.

Many fundraisers are scared to use what they call “edgy” content in their planned giving marketing communications, preferring to stick with “safe,” vanilla marketing instead.

We call using edgy content having a “spirited” dialog with your prospects. The No. 1 excuse we hear from fundraisers? “But my prospects are different.”

It’s too bad. Many trade the security of not “offending” anyone with the “reward” of not being heard at all. Edgy marketing gets results, but these fundraisers are trading copy with life and emotion for content that’s dry and formal and …(yawn) boring.

Don’t Let Fear Drive

It is not uncommon to see fear driving people instead of opportunity. This happens in the business world as well. But vanilla marketing won’t get you anywhere.

Here’s my recommendation: Begin with edgy content, then tone it down gradually (but only if necessary). That’s what we do.

The alternative? Begin with deadly boring copy — you know, the academic stuff that sounds like it was written by an accounting professor. But then you’re stuck trying to bring the dead back to life. It might work in Frankenstein, but in the planned giving world, we know that does not happen.

Ask for Opinions

The next step is important: Before you make a judgment call on your own, and before you show your boss (he or she shares the same culture as you), ask around. Ask 10 trusted donors for their thoughts. Then get the opinion of your board. If everyone agrees that the piece is fine, go back to the drawing board. It’s simply not edgy enough.

If eight say “fantastic” and two say “no way,” implement it. That’s just edgy enough to get heard. There is nothing wrong with spirited communication.

Look at it from another angle: If you walk into a party full of people, and there’s one group of folks talking and laughing louder than everyone else in the room, where do your eyes go? Even if they’re too loud for your taste, they got your attention — and that’s what you want your communications to do.

You can play it vanilla, or you can be heard. What will you choose?

Leave a reply