Transactional Nonprofit Work vs. Transformational Philanthropic Progress
Full confession. Seth Godin is getting to me. Every day he inspires me and I just have to act (aka blog). A recent post goes to the heart of what makes a business brilliantly successful. And it’s not the strategy or the product. It’s Feet on the street. And, I would add, it’s not just your feet. It’s theirs.
This is how Nordstrom’s set itself apart from its competitors. It let folks return their shoes. No questions asked. It put itself in the shoes of its customers. And people liked this. They really, really liked this. We trust Nordstrom’s because they trust us. Nordstrom’s is legendary.What can you do to become legendary?
What can you do that your constituents will truly appreciate? What can you do to strengthen your relationships and build trust?
Here are a couple of the things that Seth suggests that I think work especially well:
- Write a thank you note every single day, to someone who doesn’t expect one
This is my favorite tip. I used to keep a stack of five thank you cards on my desk. By the end of the week if I hadn’t used them all, then I’d failed.
- Run classes for your customers
It’s important to remember that it’s all about our constituents. Without them, we’re toast. So we must provide something of value. It can’t all be take, take, take. We must also give. It’s a value-for-value exchange. The more valuable we can be, the more we will be valued. This isn’t rocket science. But we forget. Don’t forget this year. If you can’t run a class, offer “how to,” “tips” and “recommendations” in your blog or on your website.
- Write a blog every day, not to sell, but to teach
Again, consider your consumer’s interests, needs and desires. What can you teach them that will help them get to where they want to go? Information about financial and tax strategies? Tips on how to stay healthy? Parenting advice? Insights into Mozart? Behind-the-scenes information about how the sausages get made? If you stop to think about it, you’ll surely have some ideas. Or randomly ask a few constituents directly. Or ask your receptionist what people seem to want to know. It may be eye opening.
- Contact every user who stops using your service and find out why
For those of us who work in the social benefit sector, this advice applies in spades to donors and volunteers. They don’t always stop for the reasons you think; so, don’t presume. I once called about 30 lapsed donors and found out that only 3 of them had made a conscious decision to stop supporting the charity in question. The others had simply forgotten or genuinely thought they’d given. The remaining three provided useful feedback that helped us change internal systems that genuinely needed to be fixed.
- Eagerly pay attention to people who mention you online and engage with them in a way that they prefer to be engaged
This one’s a challenge for many of us who are understaffed and technological neophytes. Yet it’s the future (and the instant I wrote that word the ‘future’ arrived!). Online is where engagement today is having its heyday. We don’t want to miss it. This is one of the very best ways to build relationships and also to engage in targeted customer research. And, yes, Nordstrom’s has a blog. And they respond to comments.