publication date: Aug 1, 2011
author/source: Fraser Green
This month, I want to share one of a handful of precious
nuggets of wisdom I've burned onto my mental C-drive over the years. But I'll
start it with a story.
The tale of clever
Once upon a time there
was a happy kingdom called Philanthropa. Everyone in the kingdom was happy with
their lives - except for (oddly enough!) the King and the five Princes.
You see, the five
Princes all wanted to be King. They would plot and scheme. They would compete
with each other - and with the King - at every opportunity. Each of the Princes
had decided that he couldn't be happy unless he became King. The King decided
he couldn't be happy until he knew the Princes had given up on taking his crown.
What a mess!
You see, they were all
fine men. They all loved the people of Philanthropa. They all thought they
could do best for the people by ruling the Kingdom. Each had become obsessed
with the idea that he alone must rule.
The youngest (and some
say, brightest) of the Princes was named Zachary. Prince Zachary was known for
his ideas - some brilliant, some funny, some outright crazy. But Prince Zachary
always had ideas.
One day he was out
riding in the countryside. As he gazed out to the mountains on the western
horizon, his next idea hit him like a ton of bricks. "Hey!" he wondered. "I
wonder if the people on the other side of those mountains need a King?"
So he set out on a
quest. He rode far to the west. He found a difficult pass through the mountains.
After three days of sun and rain and cold and sleet, he and his horse came down
into the valley across the mountain range.
Soon he came across
some peasant folk harvesting hay in a field. He stopped his horse and bid them
good morning. When they asked him why a stranger had come all the way across
the mountains, he replied that he was a Prince in search of a Kingdom.
The peasants burst
into huge grins and began to clap each other on the back. "Sir," one of them
said, "Our King and all our Princes went away to war five years ago and alas,
none has returned. We fear them lost forever. We are indeed in search of a
worthy Prince to be our King."
And so Prince Zachary
found his kingdom. He proved to be a strong, benevolent King - and he ruled for
sixty years until he died. People still talk about the day the wonderful Prince
appeared from across the mountains. King Zachary had become legend.
Learning from Prince
The moral of my little story is this: Quit racing with the
pack and find some empty space. If someone else rules your category, find a new
category you can rule in. Do something radically different so that you can
stand out and be noticed.
Why you need your own
Your typical donor probably supports ten or more other
charities. That donor is bombarded by between 4,000 and 10,000 marketing
messages (including yours!) daily. That donor has more than 60,000 thoughts
every day. It's awfully hard to get some space in that donor's busy brain.
One of the best ways to get some mind space is to stand out
and be different. Not a little different. A
different. Marketing guru Seth
calls this being a "Purple Cow."
This month's tip
Sometime this summer, I want you to find at least one way
that you can really
stand out from
your competition. I'll give you an idea to get you started.
Do you send Christmas cards to your donors? Do your
competitors send Christmas cards too? Of course they do - and some of their
cards are probably a lot more memorable than yours. So, if you're in the
Christmas-card-sending-stewardship business, you have three options:
Just keep sending your ordinary cards and hope
that someone notices them.
Try to send a
more memorable card than your competitors (which is exactly what your
competitors are doing already), or
Forget the Christmas card program altogether and
send your donor recognition card at Thanksgiving! Focus on the theme of
gratitude. How grateful your program recipients are for the good works you do.
How grateful you are for the generosity of your donors. I'll bet you a hundred
dollars that none of your competitors
send cards this time of year!
So now you've got the idea. You may decide to nuke the golf
tournament and spend serious time looking for that one major gift donor. You
might focus on creating an unbelievable experience for a first-time donor. You
might decide to spend as much time, effort and money writing thank-you letters
as you do writing solicitation letters.
Sometime this summer, you have my permission to spend a
workday afternoon at the beach. Just lie there and let your mind drift. If you
give your brain a little bit of creative breathing room, I'm sure you'll find
where your kingdom lies.
Have fun - and don't forget to put on your sunscreen!
Where to learn more
There are three great books that cover the subject of
standing out from the crowd. I strongly recommend Positioning
and The 22
Immutable Laws of Marketing
and Jack Trout
course Purple Cow
by Seth Godin
If you come up with a great idea - and do it - get in touch
with me and tell me about it. If I agree that it's brilliant, I'll send you
these three books as a princely reward for your valiant labours. I can't wait
to hear from you!
Fraser Green is principal and chief strategist at Good Works, a
consulting firm that works with Canadian charities to engage donors at a truly
human level and build donor loyalty and commitment. Fraser welcomes your ideas,
comments and criticisms about this tip. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with
your reactions and thoughts.