Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is missing something… and you might be too

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

I must be crazy to criticize Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.  After all, he built a multi-billion dollar company from scratch and I’m just a teeny-tiny entrepreneur trying to fundamentally change how major gifts (including planned gifts) get marketed.
Here’s my critique and why I think it’s important enough to write about:
Recently Jeff visited the Washington Post’s staff to explain why he bought their newspaper.  At the meeting he told them this:
“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient,” he told the Post. “If you replace ‘customer’ with ‘reader,’ that approach, that point of view, can be successful at the Post, too.”
So what’s my problem with this?
Most of the revenue at the Post actually comes from the advertisers, not the readers.  Of course you don’t have advertisers without readers.  But still, the newspaper serves two masters.
Why am I telling you this today?
Because you and your organization serve two masters too.  You serve your mission and those that support the mission with donations.  From a marketing perspective this can be a real challenge.  Why?  Because, if you place all of your marketing emphasis on your mission, you end up with messages that basically tell your donors how great your organization is— and puffing out your chest like that won’t work to raise money.  Therefore, when it comes to marketing, if you solely focus on your mission, you might drive donors away and eventually run out of money.
So, while I think Jeff Bezos is brilliant when it comes to selling products to consumers, I’m not convinced that his philosophy will work for the Washington Post because it’s missing a vital ingredient on the other side of the equation— the advertiser.  Unless, of course, he intends to make money purely from the readers.
So what’s my marketing takeaway for you?
I want to make sure to remind my friends ( blog subscribers) that you serve two masters. Don’t forget to serve both by delivering upon your promise (your mission) and paying attention to the unique needs of each of your donors.  Below is a list of them.  Sometimes only one applies for each donor.  Other times donors have complex needs.  Remember to think about THEIR needs along with the needs of your mission and you’ll have plenty of financial support to serve both masters.  

Some important donor needs:

  • Donors want to be invited and asked… don’t leave them out because you’re worried they might think you are asking too frequently
  • They want to feel good and special… give them love
  • They want information, honesty, access and transparency… so give it to them— frequently (and in a personalized fashion)
  • Some want accolades to serve their ego, self-esteem… so tell them they are awesome and make them feel important
  • Others give because they want to leave a legacy that lives on… help them do that

You get the idea, right?  Remember, your organization serves two masters.  Make sure the marketing efforts aimed at raising money “speaks” to each donors’ needs.  While I’m thinking of them… here are some other reasons why donors give:

  • To feel an emotion
  • To have a sense of self-preservation
  • Because they have a vested interest
  • In memoriam of someone
  • Because they want to “give back” or “pay it forward”
  • Because they identify with your cause
  • It’s their religious heritage
  • They might have social ambitions
  • Or maybe they have guilt
  • Altruism is certainly an influencer
  • Compassion too
  • Some want to feel authoritative
  • Others want to get something tangible for their donations
  • Oh yeah, and some do it for tax purposes (to escape, say, inheritance tax)

 

2 responses to “Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is missing something… and you might be too”

  1. Troy says:

    In Jeff Bezos situation you must understand he’s a transformational leader who purchased a news paper and that their primary purpose is supposed to be, service to their readers. Thus he’s being true to transforming the papers paradigm, it’s about focus on the reader. More readers more advertisers!
    Address the needs of those you serve first and all other things will be added!!

  2. Troy says:

    In Jeff Bezos situation you must understand he’s a transformational leader who purchased a news paper and that their primary purpose is supposed to be, service to their readers. Thus he’s being true to transforming the papers paradigm, it’s about focus on the reader. More readers more advertisers!
    Address the needs of those you serve first and all other things will be added!!

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