FYI Blog

DMA Conference Highlights

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Direct Marketing Association (DMA) annual conference recently with my colleagues Rick Malchow and Jackie Biancolli. Some of the key takeaways for us:

  • In the scramble for new donors, marketers need to focus on attracting higher-quality donors – so avoid the premiums, and bring in donors who want to bond with your organization because of its mission, not because of what they can get in return.
  • More and more people are using Smartphones and tablets for email, so organizations need to keep up with their members and prospects by designing landing pages for mobile devices, and create their own apps for them.
  • Get on board the Big Data train, because this is where donor prospecting is heading. The line between retail and nonprofit marketing is officially blurred, as we figure out new ways to mine these huge files for the people who will support our causes.
  • Some new thoughts on making copy even more compelling: When evaluating a story to use in letter copy, ask yourself: would you share this story with your friends and family if you did not work for the organization? Your stories must have that level of impact, create tension, and position the reader’s involvement as a way to resolve the tension. And when you write about anniversaries, be sure to focus on what the donor has accomplished with his or her participation – not just on the organization’s success.
  • And let’s not overlook branding.  Remember that your branding and fundraising messages should be determined in tandem, since the brand has to encourage donors to give, and must be aligned with the original intent of the organization. Branding must always support the message that donors already support. And all branding changes need to be tested in a marketing setting — not just in focus groups. It’s also important to allow some flexibility in the brand so that each department can maximize results – e.g., allowing Membership to add a tagline to the logo or change a font size under certain circumstances.
  • The Komen Foundation made a great presentation, focusing on the need to be prepared for the next wave in communication that hasn’t even been discovered yet. Because when it happens, it will happen quickly. To put things in perspective, it took 38 years for radio to have 50 million users, 13 years for TV, 4 years for the Internet, and 3 years for IPod. Most recently, Facebook took just 9 months to gain 100 million users! The next wave will happen even more quickly and we need to be prepared for it.