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:
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:
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