I was focusing a lot on social media this week when I kept encountering the same frustration by clients and colleagues about thank you’s. Whenever I hear the same complaint repeated over and over in the same week, it occurs to me that the “Blog Gods” are pushing me to address the complaint. And being who I am, I must do so head on.
Marketing Is More Than Promotion
The complaint is about tending to the details and thoughtfully expressing appreciation. Put another way – demonstrating that you care – not letting things “fall through the cracks,” “get lost in the busyness of business” or just thinking it is too much effort to deal with so the detail is skipped. This may not seem like a marketing issue, but really it is a significant one. It is one of the elements that can un-do the best service delivery, the smartest pricing and the brainiest promotion strategy.
This marketing issue is about appreciation. Since many of our clients and readers are non-profits, they deal with lots of volunteers – on boards, doing fundraising, and helping move their organization forward. The last thing you want to do is alienate someone who is helping your organization. Woe to the organization that frustrates someone who gives of their time and of themselves to help you.
Two Unfortunate Marketing Un-doings
Two examples of poor thanking execution and sorry to say these are true stories:
1) For five years, a talented busy professional gave of his time to a small educational organization. This individual created a novel mentoring program and worked hard to connect kids with families to further their academic success. This individual went beyond the role of the basic board member and served the board well. After five years, it was time to step off the board. How did the organization thank him for his service? They sent a dismissive email – “oh, yes, thank you “hard-working volunteer” for your help. We will take it from here.” RESULT: this volunteer was stunned, spent a weekend talking about it and now the story is circulated around town. Fortunately, the volunteer does not utilize social networking otherwise his dis-content would be well spread beyond the community.
A well-crafted letter and/or a three minute preamble to a board meeting, celebrating the individual’s impact on the organization, would have moved the volunteer’s feelings in a very different and positive way. This positive and more thoughtful action would also have celebrated the organization and volunteerism, setting a standard for others to volunteer. Moving the conversation to the public arena would also gain publicity for the organization. There is no down-side to a thoughtful thanking.
2) A small group of business-owners took a half day from work to help another non-profit conduct a telethon fundraiser. Part of the quid pro quo was that each volunteer would have their name announced and a public thank you over a popular radio station. Not only did the radio announcer botch the names in his rapid reading, but proper credit was not given. At one point during the telethon, the volunteers were shushed from being “too loud” while they were taking incoming gift calls. The volunteers left the organization feeling they would not do any further volunteering for the organization but also somewhat offended and wondered if organizational leadership was slipping.
Whether old volunteers or new, people want to know that you appreciate what they are trying to do for their organization. If part of the tacit agreement is a name shout-out, then make sure you do this well. You always want your volunteers to speak well of your organization and to want to return for another volunteering effort.
Don’t let your good marketing efforts be undone through poor management of your employees or your volunteers. The market will talk to these individuals first because of their presumed knowledge of the organization. Whether it is your medical practice, your clinic or your hospital, make sure you do everything you can to have all of your emissaries singing your praises.
And like always — marketing is more effective because it is thoughtful and planned!