Carol Pollack from Planning and Endowment Consulting had a great idea to add to yesterday’s post.
Carol Pollack from Planning and Endowment Consulting had a great idea to add to yesterday’s post.
Seth Godin is pretty smart. He really understands marketing.
In his recent blog post he discusses why we should sometimes avoid “easy leads” and, rather, seek to qualify our leads more vigorously. But when it comes to planned giving marketing, I feel that what he’s talking about and what we’re doing are very different.
First let me point out that my firm used to be a bare-knuckle marketing “hired gun” for some of the toughest businesses in the Washington, DC region. Back then we were mostly doing hardcore lead generation. One of our clients was a home improvement company. For them, we had to find ways to find “highly qualified” leads. The cost of sending someone out to a home to quote on a job that averaged only $3,000-$10,000 was just too high. So, we tested adding questions to our surveys on landing pages. Then we arranged for telephone calls to follow up on every lead (to ensure that both decision-makers of the household were present before sending a sales rep out the door). Then just before the sales person left to go meet them, again we’d confirm that all the decision-makers would be present.
Now, for our marketing planned gifts, the “sale” is very different. We’re not selling a product but rather a life choice and a large investment. We’re aiming to help people align their legacy mission with that of the nonprofit we serve. So we need to widen the funnel a lot. Then we need to cultivate the relationships (possibly for many years) with financial/educational information, mission-oriented information and conversion-oriented options (to get folks to raise their hands) because:
1- You never know which ones of these leads are just tire-kickers and which ones will leave a gift. Some people might say they will not leave a gift only because they don’t want phone calls. They just want to be anonymous.
2- For most folks it’s a HUGE jump forward to request this information at all. By doing so they are moving from the avoidance stage to the consideration stage of a very long and emotional, non-measured (even erratic) decision-making process. Considering the fact that over 50% of Americans never create a will at all, the fact that they are requesting this information is simply tremendous. This point should not be overlooked and all of these leads should be treated like gold.
3- It takes time. Some people will act right away to make a legacy gift decision. But most people will skim the information an organization sends out in response to requests and soon put it all in a drawer. Hopefully it’s near their tax information or their legal stuff. But, yes… that’s right… it will probably sit in a drawer.
4- Here’s where the magic happens. When your organization takes the effort to remind these leads about the planned giving concept and seek ways to get them to educate themselves further about the benefits they would enjoy (for their soul and their pocket-book), something special happens. I know it’s time consuming and tedious. But the largest and most impactful gifts happen in the minds of your donors when you are not there. It’s a slow process. It requires frequency and repetition. It requires well-conceived messages. And it always must include easy ways for people to move to the next step in the consideration process. In planned giving marketing we must treat each lead as if it holds the potential for a $1 million gift. Cultivate a relationship with each one properly over time and, because it’s a numbers game, you WILL end up with boatloads of money for your organization.
5- Most importantly, this “sale” usually happens when no one from the organization is around. Simply stated, most folks don’t need to involve you and your staff in order to make this kind of gift/investment. That’s the hardest part to grasp but the critical reason why this “sale” is so different from what Seth Godin is talking about.
For more on the slow sale concept, read about the tortoise and the hare in planned giving marketing here.
For effective planned giving marketing, you really should be keeping track of your metrics. That’s because it’s not like traditional fundraising. You can’t send out a letter and count the dollars 6 weeks later. It just doesn’t work the same way.
I’ve seen some foolish things in planned giving marketing. But one of the worst mistakes you can make is to look at immediate revenue as your number one metric. Instead, since planned giving marketing involves a long-term fundraising strategy, you really need to measure “activities”… not dollars.
This has been proven effective in the private sector for enterprise-level sales (and you better believe that planned giving is an enterprise-level sale) where the best sales managers and marketing directors know that you shouldn’t only measure outcomes. Rather, you should measure activities. If the activities are happening and the numbers are going in the right direction, the revenue WILL follow. It works every time without fail.
Here are the activities we recommend you measure for effective long-term planned giving marketing:
1- Lead generation and disclosures
2- Awareness/reached Number of people reached with planned giving messages in the following:
3- Cultivation numbers Number of people nurtured with on-going messages multiplied by the frequency of those messages via:
4- Engagements With the right software, you can now track individual prospect engagement with your organization online including:
I found a really interesting little nugget of information buried in an old report. Back in 2007, The Journal of Gift Planning conducted a survey finding that 73 percent of survey respondents who work for charities reported that they have made some type of planned gift themselves. Also the survey reported that almost 75 percent of advisers have made planned gifts.
So, if you’re marketing budget is tight and you’re looking to uncover hidden gifts, why not target your staff and you network of estate planning advisers first? Keep in mind that donors rarely take a charity out of their estate plan. And, they usually increase the size of their gift if they are stewarded properly.
It’s interesting that they didn’t survey Board Members or volunteers too. But they are great targets as well.
Bottom line… if I had virtually no marketing budget but wanted to generate some disclosures so I could steward them properly, I’d target the following groups in order of importance:
Traditional planned giving marketing theory talks about concentric circles a lot. Start with your Board, then major donors, and keep going outward toward the least qualified prospects.
Sometimes I find myself muddying the waters by arguing against part of this theory. That’s because you never really know who could deliver a big bequest. It could come from a one-time donor who couldn’t afford monthly or yearly gifts but happened to live in a home worth hundreds of thousands of dollars— and she wanted your organization to have it. Or it could come from someone who inherited money late in life.
Of course we all know that your budgets are tight and you have to focus on the most likely prospects. So let’s circle back to the beginning of this post and talk about your Board. Have you asked them to plan a gift for your organization after their lifetimes? There simply is no better target group for your message.
We recently wrote a letter that was individually delivered to each member of the organization’s Board and it inspired three gifts immediately. The gift sizes have not been disclosed but let’s assume they meet the organization’s average gift size of $40,000. That comes to $120,000 from a simple letter.
Sorry folks— you just can’t get a better return on your investment than that.
Everyone gets a rope.
Some are shorter than others. Some are thicker than others. Some have notches. And others are a little bit slippery.
Each of us has a choice.
You can either climb up the rope, dangle on it, or hang yourself with it.
What have you chosen to do?
Just imagine what the world would be like if all of us spent a lot less time examining the rope we were given… and a lot more time examining how we’re going to climb up them.
Well you’ve heard about inserts – what about onserts?
These work because your best business and best referrals will come from your past customers.
Onserts are offers originally used on newspapers. I think they should beplaced directly ON your invoices. If you send out lots of invoices by direct mail or email, why not throw an offer on there?
Everyone MUST read their invoices right? So what better time to up-sell, re-sell or cross-sell your best, most targeted list of your past customers? This is also a great place to offer a customer service survey or an opportunity for your clients to refer business and reap referral rewards.
A friend of mine went to a really large public university. He heard about our SmartGiftmaker and told me I should call someone at his Alma Mater. So I did. Or so I tried to do.
I went online, found the University’s website. Entered “planned giving” in their search bar and found a list of stuff. Some of it had to do with planned giving. Some of it didn’t. So I entered “donation”. That sent me to a “Donate Now!” page.
I searched around and found a link for planned giving. So I clicked it and got to a page with a huge photo and the words “What is your legacy?” along with some other links about ways to give.
But I really just wanted to talk to someone and I couldn’t find a phone number to call. So I went back to the “Donate Now!” page and found a phone number for the development office. And guess what happened when I dialed that number?
I got the Engineering School!
No kidding. I got the Engineering School.
I figured I dialed incorrectly so I tried again and sure enough, the number was wrong.
So I went back to the search bar and found some other links and some other phone numbers. I finally got someone in the development office and told him that I was looking for the Planned Giving office. He was happy to transfer me. But guess where I went? TO THE ENGINEERING SCHOOL!
I had to give up. And I wonder how many donors gave up too? How many bequests must they have lost?
I didn’t have time to track down the planned giving department any longer. But the next time I spoke to my friend I encouraged him to let his Alma Mater know that they were missing out in big way.
Folks… let’s make it easy to give, ok?
Recently someone told me at a networking function that cold-calling was “old-school” and didn’t work.
Of course this person admitted he never made a cold call in his life and is in fact currently unemployed.
In these days of inbound marketing, SEO, PPC, email and online networking, many businesses overlook one of the most powerful business tools out there – the telephone. Dollar-for-dollar it’s one of the most effective marketing tools you own.
Although many admit they hate making – and receiving– cold calls, when done right (with respect, care, concern, sophistication and a desire to help others) the cold call is without question a very inexpensive and powerful marketing technique.
I’ve often had people say to me, “ya’ know… I never take calls like these normally but you really got my attention and I’d like to take a look at what you’re offering. Thank you for calling.”
I’m not kidding.
You have to provide value, be concerned, be genuine, be helpful, be polite, and be persistent.
We make cold calls and many of our clients do. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s something wrong with engaging with your prospects in this way. It may be an old method but it still works.
And by the way… if the guy I met at the networking session spent time cold-calling businesses to offer his services in return for employment, I’d bet he’d find a job much faster (as long as he does it right).
Cold calling is not about whether it works or not, it’s about how you do it that counts.
There are hundreds of networking opportunities in every major city in America – from chambers of commerce to simple clubs and groups. All you need to do is Google “local networking events” and you’ll find tons of opportunity.
But be sure to have a strategy before you run off to your first event. I recommend targeting your efforts. In other words, make sure you go to events where the prospects you need to meet are most likely to hang out. Don’t waste time at events that are off-track or you’ll end up with a ton of dead-end leads. And we suggest you avoid getting hooked into any networking that requires a commitment yet provides poor results.
I know a salesperson who drives 25 minutes each way (50 minutes total) to go to a networking luncheon for 90 minutes (now we’re up to 140 minutes) once a month. Twelve times each year. That’s 28 hours. So she spends 4 full days (almost one full week) at a networking event trading business cards with people and hoping for referrals. And after over a year of this I asked her if she ever got any business from it. “No”, she replied. “But they tell me I need to be patient and make sure to go every month.”
If she spent time at the RIGHT place, she’d get more leads. Or, better yet, if she spent 28 hours cold-calling, I’m sure she would have found more leads than she did driving back and forth to a monthly event that had no real prospects.
Bonus: And here’s the key that most people miss – don’t sell at networking events. Simply ask people what they do; be interested in their business; ask lots of questions. If there’s a fit, it will emerge. Of course that’s when you’ll want to trade business cards.