You can’t believe how hard it is for people to be simple, how much they fear being simple. They worry that if they’re simple, people will think they’re simpleminded. In reality, of course, it’s just the reverse.
~ Jack Welch, CEO General Electric
In business and in life, there is a tendency to think more is better. And I have sometimes fallen into this trap myself.
But as I’ve gotten older, and hopefully wiser, I have made a u-turn. My goal is not to know everything about a topic, but the most important things to know. If a question is raised where I do not know the answer, I know where I can get it.
Focus on The Critical Few and Not the Insignificant Many
I have carried this philosophy into developing our planned giving websites and publications, too. That’s why our sites are easy to understand and navigate. They are neat, organized, tidy, manageable, and customized. For example, instead of complicating our websites with hundreds of documents that clutter your prospect’s mind, we keep them simple. Instead of leading prospects to useless articles, we keep them focused on the gift. Instead of recommending gift plans based on age, we recommend gift plans based on their goals. This is a no-brainer. Besides, everyone thinks they are young anyhow.
In short, we do exactly the opposite of what other vendors do.
The Mesozoic Newsletter
We carry our simplicity into our advice, too. I once heard a vendor spend an enormous amount of time explaining what font one must choose in putting a newsletter together. Geez, maybe he can help me alphabetize my canned veggies in my pantry. The fact remains that 50% of the weight in a mailing campaign is the quality of the list, 40% is what you say and how you say it, and 10% is the look and feel. But at the same time, remember that your prospect is not dying (pun intended) to read a boring, canned planned giving newsletter that explains how to part with her wealth after her death. So the font does not matter anyway… In fact, if you’re still considering using planned giving newsletters, you have to advance yourself beyond 1991. And whether these newsletters work or not is very much in question.
Keeping the mind clear and uncluttered is of paramount importance. Energy levels are highest when one is focused on what matters most. That is why short, targeted postcards, personalized solicitation letters, and interesting articles in your publications are far more effective (especially if you highlight donors at the same time) than long bromides on gift plans in a canned newsletter format. We offer all these tools and other useful resources you should be taking advantage of and they are all designed to drive traffic to your planned giving website. Beats sending out newsletters that don’t even get opened.
Remember that stopping marketing to save money is like stopping your watch to save time. But at a time when institutional dollars are tight, use your dollars wisely on the planned giving marketing tools that work.