Having just returned from the National Conference on Philanthropic Planning, I thought it would be timely to share a few marketing takeaways. While there is nothing revolutionary to report, it’s always nice to talk with colleagues about their marketing successes and challenges. Here’s what I gleaned from the sessions I attended.
How do you evaluate your marketing program? Well, it depends. There are many things to consider, and because there is no “right” way, it's not as straightforward as you might think. One characteristic to consider is the age of your program. Is it in its beginning stages, is it a mature program around for decades, or is it somewhere in between? The age and size of your planned giving program is a material factor when you measure and evaluate the results of your planned giving marketing.
They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I believe it was Pablo Picasso who said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Many other writers and composers have been quoted saying something similar. Great ideas are never born, they are just reinvented. This is true of most things, and marketing, especially for planned giving, is no exception. As soon as someone discovers a “new idea,” there is no reason not to imitate it to see if it will produce the desired results.
In the planned giving community, there is considerable controversy about how much time (and money) should be spent “marketing” to financial advisors. When working with our clients, we often ask about strategies they have found to be effective when working with and marketing to advisors. Here are a few simple guidelines we have developed to help ensure that investing time with advisors produces the desired results:
We talk about target marketing, about segmenting a list so that you can create messaging that is specific to each segment of your audience. Unfortunately, gift planners rarely segment their lists. This is partially because planned giving mailings tend to be small in comparison to broader appeals, such as for annual gifts. Further, segmentation is not only more time-consuming for the person involved, but also can be more costly. So, what to do?