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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A bit belated post on Scott Stratten

I so wanted to go to the National Arts Marketing Project Conference this year. Okay, truth is I want to go to any arts-related conference but they have this nasty habit of 1) falling on show weekends (thus I have to be at work) and 2) having a hefty registration fee (which I can't afford currently). Hence, I am very grateful that the NAMP folks recorded some of their speeches, including the opening keynote by UnMarketing guru Scott Stratten. You can listen to the whole speech here. Today, I just want to share with you what I jotted down while listening.

  • there is no such thing as a neutral brand interaction.
  • Seth Godin's Purple Cow. Unawesome is unaccetable
  • We share experiences.
  • Marketing is actions.
  • Re-marry your current audience.
  • What can you STOP? What can you START? What can you CONTINUE?
  • You can't ignore what you hate.
  • Don't have a presence [in social media] but not be present.
  • Get 'em in the door any way you can.
  • Everyday awesome doesn't have to be epic.
I'll share some thoughts on each of these points in a later post. But that last one, for arts organizations, is especially significant: the art we produce/present should be epic, but our whole organization should leave the patron happy with their experience. Too often arts orgs believe that as long as the art is "good", then patrons won't mind an otherwise crappy time. Au contraire: just as with restaurants and the good food/awful service conundrum, arts patrons will only begrudgingly return to see art if the service is terrible and they will NOT turn into raving fans and bring others with them. Like Scott said, it doesn't need to be epic. How about we all just start with every single person in the organization giving a genuine smile and hearty "Hello!" when a customer walks in? 

And, to be clear, by "customer" I mean everyone who comes in contact with the organization, inside or out. 

Just a simple start.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ken Burnett is my new favorite person

(Full disclosure: I usually have about one per week.)

I received as a Christmas present Burnett's pithy classic The Zen of Fundraising: 89 Timeless Ideas to Strengthen and Develop Your Donor Relationships (Jossey-Bass, 2006). Burnett has written some of the most revered relationship fundraising books in the field and this one is a nice overview of how relationship fundraising should work.

Every one of those 89 ideas would work as a standalone blog post, but I wanted to write about two of the over-arching ideas he puts forward, because the first is something I want to do every day and the second is, well, my whole raison d'etre.


The first idea is salient, smart communication. I add the adjectives because this is not broadcast communication, trying to reach the widest possible audience at any possible cost. This communication is targeted, well-written, inspires, educates, and deepens the relationship between the nonprofit and the donor. These extend from everything to the monthly newsletter to the formal ask to the thank you letter. This kind of communicating does what Client Attraction author Fabienne Fredrickson calls "Pull Marketing": by the time you're finished talking with the donor, they make the decision to pull out their checkbook. No hard asking needed.

The second idea is developing a personal relationship through service. Donors give us one of the resources we need to do our work. Why do we then neglect them but wonder why they don't give us more? We need to learn about them, make them our closest friends in reality, and help each other grow. At the very least, remember their names and the last time they donated!

Arts organizations, especially small ones without a lot of personal infrastructure, are very bad at both of these things. Directors of all art disciplines are (and rightfully should be) more concerned about the quality of their work and the audience reaction than building friendships with donors. That's fine, but if that is the mindset, an organization needs to do one of two things: either let go of your nonprofit status so you don't have to have donors and find other earned revenue or hire someone who loves donors and loves your art and can do it for you. Spend your payroll dollars on someone who will grow those relationships and make more money for your art. If you can only afford to hire one person to fill multiple roles in your organization, make sure they have a customer service mindset. The fundraising relationships will automatically flow from this.

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Year’s Resolutions: Checklists versus Commitments

New Year’s Resolutions: Checklists versus Commitments

Great stuff over on Artsblog. I've tried to pare back my to-do list (by making master lists and then culling the daily tasks from there) to the three main focus areas in my life: home/myself, school, and work. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mazel Tov!

My friends Danny and Jenny got married this weekend! I love life-transition celebrations. There is always an element of the Divine present.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Building a Case for Support

Whether you know you're doing it formally, or just making a list in your head, everyone builds a case for support for something you want. A nonprofit arts organization should write a formal case for support at least annually. It should be constructed by everyone who has a stake in the organization's fundraising effort and, ideally, it should also be contributed to by those with the longest institutional memory (who are likely also your best storytellers). 
[photo by my daughter] I'm a list maker and note taker.

But I also find myself building mini cases every day: "Why More Hours Has An Exponential ROI", "Why I Need An Intern", "Why Moving Would Benefit Us". These are slightly more than just a list of pros and cons, or simple nagging items, but well thought-out, reasoned arguments as to how these things can benefit not only me, but are actually win-win situations for all involved. These secondary lines are not written out as formally as the organizational one, but--just as the more elaborate one is useful as a communication tool with myriad audiences--these mini ones serve to keep me on topic with one-on-one audiences.