Should we "make 'em uncomfortable?"

publication date: Aug 5, 2011
author/source: Jonathon Grapsas
Recently I read a blog that talked about the way we make people feel. The piece said that the key to successful marketing was "making 'em smile." The author used the American Idol experience to illustrate his point.Jonathon Grapsas photo

It got me thinking: How do we make donors or potential donors feel?

We provoke a raft of emotions and feelings. Yet often (and sadly), supporters are left unfilled and disappointed with their experience - particularly after giving, and the silence and mystery that often follows.

Feelings - but not the ones you want

I know firsthand about that silence that follows because I've spent a lot of time "mystery shopping" charities around the world. At times, up to half of the charities we "mystery shopped" (and to which we made real gifts) failed even to acknowledge our offer to support. In other words, they just didn't respond.

How do you think I felt? Disappointment and anger were the overriding emotions.

Moving donors to act

But what about when it comes to eliciting a response and convincing someone they need to act?

For me it's about making 'em feel slightly uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable enough to feel compelled to press on and keep reading, listening, pondering.

Not so uncomfortable that they feel the urge to turn away. Certainly not as uncomfortable as witnessing a solar eclipse or train crash! Shock and squeamishness may work in certain circumstances, but that's not sustainable.

Discomfort, action, satisfaction

Just uncomfortable enough that what they're doing right now seems irrelevant and tedious, yet not so uncomfortable that it's confused with being difficult or too hard. As Ken Burnett once shared, you want your supporters nodding in agreement, not because they think it's right or just, but because your case is so compelling they can't help but agree.

Uncomfortable enough to be moved. To give. To do something.

And of course, not uncomfortable after they've given. More like satisfied and fulfilled. Energized and proud.

In fact at that point, right at the moment you've responded with a heartfelt, authentic note of thanks, you really do want to make 'em smile.

Who would have thought American Idol could inspire this article!

Think about how you make your donors feel.

Jonathon Grapsas is the founder and director at flat earth direct, an agency dedicated to fundraising and campaigning for good causes. Jonathon spends his time working with charities around the world focused on digital, direct response and campaigning stuff.

If you you'd like to chat to Jonathon you can drop him a line, follow him on Twitter, or check out

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