Last week, at the suggestion of a client, I read RelationShift: Revolutionary Fundraising, by Michael Bassoff and Steve Chandler. From time to time, I work with non-profits, and one of the things I always hear is their need to grow their donor database and increase the amount of money they’re bringing into their organizations.
RelationShift takes common “myths” of fundraising and turns them upside down. This book struck me for several reasons, and I’m sharing it with you today because the material can be applied to any organizations, whether you’re a 501(c) 3 or for profit.
Shift How You Think
Most businesses are concerned with Customer Satisfaction. Whether you’re a B2B, B2C, or non-profit, you often hear the importance of client/customer satisfaction, and with good reason. An upset customer isn’t going to do you any favors. Bassoff and Chandler aren’t satisfied (pun intended) with the term Customer Satisfaction. Instead, they offer an alternative: Customer Delight. What’s not to love about that?
How Can I DELIGHT My customers?
Great question. Delighting your customers is much more powerful than satisfying them. A satisfied customer gets just what they paid for. Nothing more, sometimes less. That doesn’t create raving fans or return customers. It simply fulfils a contract.
By delighting your clients, on the other hand, you’re creating a cult of devotees who not only want to continue to work with you for years to come, but they actively (and often without solicitation from you) advertise and refer other people and organizations to you. What can you do to delight your customers?
- Listen attentively. What are your clients missing? What do they need? Don’t rush to tell them how you can fix it. Listen and understand them.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! Let you customers know what you can do, and just as importantly, what you don’t do or specialize in. This type of honest, transparent communication speaks volumes not only of your integrity but the candor sets a good baseline for your relationship moving forward. Additionally, keeping clients in the loop during a project or in the event you make a misstep is good practice and good PR.
- Learn About Them. Understanding their business and their goals is critical to your successful relationship. But what about the actual people you’re engaging with? What do you know about them? Have you asked them about their interests, their hobbies, their family, their pets? Why is this important? Because people are who you work with, not a company. “In the long run, the people can help you a great deal more than their companies can.” (61) And guess what? It is people who report to the higher-ups and inform them of what it was like working with you. Renewed contracts, future work, and referrals are in the hands of the individuals you work with.
Light a Spark
Another point that struck me in RelationShift that applies to any organization is this: “Your communications should never be allowed to be boring.” (45)
Simple and brilliant. But it’s easier said than done. If you’ve got someone on your team, or a whole team, dedicated to your communications, that’s great. Make sure they’re great! What they write, how they communicate it, and to whom they communicate is of the utmost importance to your organization’s success.
What constitutes boring communication?
- A run-of-the-mill newsletter.
- Problem: Newsletters are a wonderful resource to showcase your organization’s personality, mission, and successes. Yet organizations squander the opportunity to truly connect with their clients and leads by putting out a boring, rote newsletter with basic updates.
- How to Fix It: Incorporate compelling images, personal stories, and the ways in which your “news” can improve the lives of your audience. Make them care. When your tribe cares about what you’re doing, they become invested in your success, because they view your success as their own success.
- Self-serving social media posts.
- Problem: When it comes to communicating with your tribe, few things get old as quickly as reading basic updates about your company. Companies that aren’t thinking outside the box and only talk about themselves on social media alienate the very people they’re trying to reach and who can help drive their sales.
- How to Fix It: Profile past and current customers. Why this? First, it gives your current and past customers a sense of self-importance. They feel important and special when you single them out as a “Good Example.” Secondly, other people reading these types of posts can relate to them. They may see a bit of themselves in these profiles and will be more engaged. Another way to avoid the being labeled as “boring” is by posting articles from reliable sources about issues and causes that are important to your tribe. The more you post from outside sources (even from your competition) the more you establish yourself as an expert in your field. People will want to work with an Expert. If someone posts a comment on your Facebook page or mentions you on Twitter, reply!
- No Communication At All
- Problem: Take a guess! You’re not communicating to your tribe at all! This void is going to be filled by someone, so it better be you! When you’re not communicating with your audience, they’re left to their own devices about what you’re doing (or not doing, in their minds) and that is hardly a good idea.
- How to Fix It: Communicate! Call them, email them, encourage them to follow you on social media, and engage with them however you can.
Before I move on, I need to mention this quote from Winston Churchill that is featured in Relationshift:
The Golden Rule Rules
“Treat others as you would want to be treated.” I don’t know about you, but I want to be treated with kindness, respect, and good intentions. In RelationShift, the authors note that anytime anyone gives to one of their organizations, they “treat them like kings and queens. We always outgive the giver.” (55).
In terms of fundraising for a non-profit, this means that whenever someone gives your organization a gift, not only sweep them off their feet (ie Customer Delight!) with Thanks, but feed them information on how their gift will help your cause. Introduce them to others like them who are in your organization. They will thank YOU!
For a for-profit organization, the principle is the same: make each customer, no matter whether they’re you’re largest or smallest account, feel like royalty. Engender goodwill with them, let them know how much your relationship means to them, and be sincere about it. I find that businesses who have been around for only a few years are very good at this. As a business becomes more settled and secure, however, it is easy to take new and old clients alike for granted. This is a huge mistake, and one that is easily remedied. Consistent outreach, making sure they’re happy, asking what else they may need from you, etc, goes a long way.
Remembering the Golden Rule, you don’t like being ignored, marginalized, or kept in the dark, right? Neither do your clients. Doing this will reflect positively on you and your organization.
Get After It
RelationShift has a ton of other great takeaways that are worth checking out but I won’t spoil it for you. Whatever you take away from it, I hope that it encourages you to look at your organization through a different lens. Its a quick read, so check it out!
If you’d like to apply some of these principles of communication to your organization but don’t know where to start, feel free to reach out to me for a free consultation.
- Bassoff, Michael, and Steve Chandler. Relationshift: Revolutionary Fundraising. Robert D. Reed Publishers, 2001.