Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Selling the nonprofit mission and vision – making an effective interpersonal connection

Posted in nonprofits, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on December 13, 2010

I post a lot about Marketing and Communications, and in the context of nonprofits that means developing and conveying an effective and compelling message and with effective branding. This is an endeavor that is done at the level of communities and demographics, and while it may be targeted, it can also be somewhat impersonal – and even when it conveys a message with a specific human face and experience attached to it.

Ultimately, however, Marketing and Communications is directed towards individuals – specific and particular, and even idiosyncratic individual people. Whether this works for them depends on how effectively the message and its packaging branding resonates with the individual and as an individual. And ultimately, that is where Salesmanship comes in.

Sales and Salesmanship are all about making the individual connection. Yes, this is largely a matter of getting that individual to buy as at least one long term and ongoing goal but that all comes out of making the individual and interpersonal connection. And that is what I want to at least touch upon in this posting, with the sale of a message of value in the nonprofit mission and vision. In a real sense I write this as a continuation of a posting I added to this blog earlier this year as Rainmaker Myths and Traps, and Rainmakers as a Source of Shared Best Practices.

That may appear to be a strange association to make here given the fact that my working example in this earlier posting involved big ticket retail sales, and auto sales in particular. But I add here that Mike, the rainmaker cited in my April posting was as successful as he was because he really believed in what he was doing and in the value of the cars he sold – and not just as an abstract principle or as a matter of potential value to members of some demographic, but rather to the specific people he was selling to.

I am not in any way denigrating the role or importance of Marketing per se here, but am rather adding a second, often neglected piece to the puzzle. Marketing and Communications form the crucible in which an organization’s message and even its vision as to what it stands for get tested and refined. Marketing and Communications provide Sales with essential tools and resources needed when approaching and working with individuals. But ultimately, much happens at the individual level and not simply at the more abstract level of the demographic group.

This becomes vitally important when Marketing and Communications take place through interactive online and social media channels. Demographics level understanding and action are needed when selecting the channels, sites and tools to connect out to the community through, and this same level of understanding and activity is needed in drafting online profiles and other general messages. It is even important when responding to comments and feedback from individuals in the surrounding community as publically shared replies are widely read. But demographics are comprised of individuals. And nonprofits need their mission and vision-driven rainmakers too. And that is all about Sales:

• Reaching out to and connecting with the individual, and in terms of their needs and concerns.
• Creating a shared sense of value in what the organization is doing, and bringing those individuals to buy into and support this.
• Developing and maintaining ongoing relationships with those individuals and remembering them and acting accordingly when reengaging with them.

Rainmaking is not just about selling cars. Operationally, developing and instilling a culture of connection with the community at an individual level can be the game changing unique value proposition that a nonprofit needs to succeed.

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