Use the Wall Exercise to See Your Direct Marketing Program More Clearly
It happens. It’s happening right now with my clients. It’s the middle of October, and while we are at the start of the major holiday giving season, we are already planning November/December for digital strategies and January/February for direct mail. And, of course, when we are reviewing overall trends from 2016 we will already be at least two to four months into the next year with campaigns already in the process. This is fast-paced business.
Last week, I had the pleasure of talking to someone who runs one of the largest direct marketing programs in the nonprofit industry. This program is not just massive from a revenue perspective, but also from a complexity perspective. There are multiple campaigns, multiple donor groupings and different value groupings, and every channel is running at maximum speed.
Running this program is a large job. So, I asked how she manages to keep her finger on everything. Obviously, having a great team is a critical part of the picture, but she also shared an exercise that I thought was great. Let me set the scene. She happens to work in an office where the walls are painted like dry-erase boards. (Let’s just stop there for a moment. What a cool thing. I want that in my house now. Well, at least my kitchen.)
Okay, back to business: the wall exercise.
She took an entire wall and mapped out all the key metrics of the various elements of the program(s) over the last five years. Imagine that. Your program—mapped out on a wall, looking at the things that matter—retention rates, average gift, active donor percentages, upgrade/downgrade statistics, etc.
Once the masterpiece was assembled, she stepped back. She circled areas where the trend had shifted significantly (good and bad). The next step was a lesson in history. Every time there was a major shift, she and her team answered the question of "why." This provided a new view into the program, where it had been (and why) and how future decisions could be made.
Ask yourself: How long has it been since you have really looked at where your program has been? If your team is like most marketing teams, you have had staff changes—was any historical knowledge lost?
We will always live in a marketing environment that is impacted by events out of our control (elections, disasters, etc.) but sometimes changes happen within our programs that cause change. Are those changes understood by today's team?
I thought the wall exercise was a great use of time. It’s a reminder of program success, and a way to truly make sure the current team understands where the program has been and where it should be headed.
Now, go find some time to do this at your organization. Note: I am not responsible if people write on painted walls versus dry-erase walls.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.