A few lessons on marketing from a school fundraiser…

In Uncategorized by wakemanconsultingLeave a Comment

I’ve been working to raise money for my son’s school in the hopes that we can collectively raise enough money to allow all kids to have access to the best technology, extracurricular activities, and community, regardless of what their family’s financial circumstances might be.

As I’ve worked with this with some parents, it has allowed me to focus on grassroots marketing and applying some ideas in a way that I can see the direct cause and effect of our actions.

The nice thing is that the feedback comes quickly and the lessons apply no matter what you are marketing.

Here are some lessons.

Consistency matters: 

The stat about the number of impressions an average person gets hit with each day is somewhere in the thousands.

This means that people have likely trained themselves to shut out a lot.

Meaning that delivering your message consistently becomes more and more important.


Because like first impressions, you only get one chance to make one, but you don’t know when that is going to occur.

So be consistent in delivering your message because you don’t know when people are actually going to see it.

Community matters: 

We hear people talk about community a lot.

If you’ve read Bowling Alone, you’ll also be familiar with statistics that show the decline of community and connection in American society over the last 50 years.

One of the few opportunities many people have to experience community might be at their child’s school or something that is almost essential to their neighborhood.

This connection matters.

Because when you feel more connected to an idea or a group, you are more willing to take action.

Not just financially, but with your time, energies, and attention.

Message matters: 

Robert Ciandali wrote about a United Way study that focused on how to increase the number of donors that focused around language.

In the telling, using language that encouraged people to think of their commitment to the United Way as something as small as a penny increased the likelihood that they would contribute. On top of that likelihood of giving, the act of becoming willing to give coincided with a willingness to give more because the story that most donors were telling themselves didn’t include the fact that they were the kind of person that only gave a penny to the United Way. So they gave more.

In the case of my son’s school, the same thing has played out.

We have seen families that have never contributed to this fundraiser give. This has increased the average donation and helped us improve the percentage of families participating in older grades.

Emotionals matter: 

The idea that marketing boils down to emotion should be at the core of all marketing campaigns at this point.

Marketing has changed and with it the ability to just roll out an ad or a request and expect a response has changed as well.

When ads first began gain relevance, the return on investment was pretty clear. If you wrote a great ad and placed it correctly, you could often guarantee a return on the money you invested.

In today’s ad world, no such guarantee can exist. Our attention has become too divided and our ability to block out messages has made this bargain much more difficult to keep.

Instead, we are required to use stories a lot more regularly.

Stories are built on emotions and they are powerful because stories are how we have passed down information since the dawn of man.

In working on a school fundraiser, emotions really do matter. By recognizing that, you can craft a great campaign to help kids. Or, you can fall flat if you think that it is wrong to use emotions.

Those are just four of the things I’ve noticed, but they really do revolve around the basics of marketing…which still hold water.


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