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It’s the Marketing, Stupid.

charles darwin fresh ideas nonprofits

I recall Steve Jobs being asked whether he thought Apple was the leading computer company in the world. He responded, “We’re not in the computer business, we’re in the marketing business.”

If everyone in philanthropy could just understand this concept, they would be raising far more than imagined.

Marketing Makes Smart People Feel Stupid

Why? Because most who are hired into marketing positions are exceptionally bright, well-educated experts who come from different fields. Thus, they have to start from scratch, and to save face they pretend. It’s embarrassing to admit something you think is simple, that you think everyone thinks should know, but don’t (read that three times; even if you’re smart, or think you’re smart).

In short, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Another reason is that because they are well-educated, they think they can “learn” marketing. Marketing is more than street smarts, more than book smarts. You really need to look through a different lens. Sometimes it feels illogical. In the nonprofit sector, I’ve seen so many who have a degree in English or law placed in a marketing position, then fail miserably.

And finally, the same smart ones feel it is tacky and spammy to “get the word out” and be as loud as possible. That’s not what marketing is about. On the contrary, that’s how you lose clients, donors and friends.

“That’s why people like to give, but don’t like being asked.”

Marketing is About Projecting.

Our understanding of marketing is driven by industry giants such as Proctor & Gamble, Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Ogilvy & Mather, Saatchi & Saatchi, just name a few. In fact, two of our team members came from these companies.

So our question is, what type of firm would you like to be associated with? Vendors who teach you CALCs, CRUTs, CRATs and CRAPs? Or a firm that breathes and eats marketing full time.

Marketing is about taking what you have to offer and turning it into why anyone should care. Marketing is the art of motivating people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.

As an aside, even in marketing there are niche specialties that well-educated people, including marketing generalists, do not grasp — such as the difference between branding, marketing and sales. In planned giving, it’s best to leave these to the marketing experts like us instead of resorting to calculator or print-shop vendors or ones run by attorneys to get your marketing done.

The Dating Scene

Even when it comes to meeting that “special someone,” getting your next promotion, or getting someone to hold the door open for you, you are sending marketing messages to achieve your desired outcome. And when things are not going your way, look in the mirror to discover what you are — or are not — projecting.

Two different circumstances, two different settings — someone can romantically fall for someone, or not otherwise. Your “marketing” defines the setting for it to happen. In short, your personal brand will attract the person you want.

My Clients Are the Top 5%

I recently had a discussion with a fundraiser who fiercely and adamantly argued that planned giving is not marketing. Some folks will just not get it, and likely will remain in mediocre positions all of their careers. With him that was obvious… he literally told me he did not need more pay. These are the fundraisers who use busywork to hide behind a desk.

Without exception, every fundraiser I have known who grasps marketing and works with us is doing exceptionally well in their career. Everyone. No exceptions. They do not study CRUTs, CRATs, CALCs and CRAPs. They study people, relationships, marketing and sales. They are the top 5%.

Most nonprofits have a reversed Darwinian approach to new idea generation. Instead of survival of the “fittest” they strive for survival of the “safest.”

And the safest, weakest ideas are the ones that die first.

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