Monday, 7 June 2010

All is fair in love and supporter relationships

I was reminded of a presentation I gave to my international colleagues last year in order to share with them key learning about our UK supporters and why we all have a role in keeping our supporters engaged and supporting us.

One of the most successful and indeed entertaining parts of the session was when I asked the audience what they thought were the main reasons for relationships failing.

- Infidelity
- leading separate lives
- nothing in common any more
- lies
- love letters found for another person..

There was much laughter and comic answers during this session - but my point was that like personal relationships - it is similar things that cause our supporter relationships to falter and end.

So though this isn't new, I think it is a useful reminder.

7 tips to help keep a supporter relationship alive:

1. Make time for your supporters
This is an obvious one - but if you don't then you don't get to know your supporters and what they like, don't like and of course what they are interested in. This is even more important in today's multi-media connected world - where people are exposed to tens of thousands of messages a day - so it is even more important to ensure what you are offering is what your supporters are interested in.

2. Keep listening and talking Without communication most relationships are pretty much dead. Two ships that pass in the night is all you will end up being. Actively encouraging your supporters to feedback and tell you what they think is vital. Charities also need to respond actively to this feedback and use it as an opportunity to build dialogue.

3. Show your love and appreciation regularly
I cannot stress the importance of thanking your supporters enough - and that is just the start. The other key element is ensuring you are not making excessive demands on your supporters. Quite often we can be so busy targeting certain supporter groups because they have done x,y and z for us in the past.. that we just reward their generosity with just more and more requests.
4. Show you know them Data, data, data - for this one it is crucial that your data is up-to-date and accurate - in the same way that appropriate personalisation and little touches can enhance any relationship - the wrong name, date, personal detail could tear apart any sense that you know or care anything about your supporters.
5. Don't take the relationship for granted This is about keeping the relationship fresh and alive. Not just what you are saying and doing but how this is being conveyed. If everything starts to feel like a conveyor belt of churned communications - with no link or narrative - then you might find yourself with a note stating they are leaving you.

6. Surprise them We all like nice surprises - and supporter relationships should not be any different. In the same way people learn and respond to information in different ways: visually, auditory and kinesthetic - creatively we can ensure that we mix up the communications our supporters receive - offering a multi sensual experience or even better, finding out what a supporter's preferred mode of communication is and appealing to that. Essentially if you tell someone who is kinesthetically motivated that you love them - then it won't mean as much as if you actually show them!

7. Have an open mind to a fling Now, before you think I have lost my mind - let me qualify this by saying that what I mean is even the most impromptu and unlikely relationship could turn out to be the love of your life - and the same can be said for supporters. The important thing is that no matter how a supporter arrives at your door you need to ensure that there are systems in place to ensure that the quality follow-up is there in the same way it would be for a planned recruitment campaign. A lovely thank you and a warm personal follow-up could easily transform a fling into a long-term relationship.

Finally - though I am not going to make this tip 8, the recovery / win back stage is also critical but may I say from my own experience very much neglected.

The truth is if done well, the recovery process will provide useful information that could help restore and revive some of the failing relationships and just as importantly help to ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated in the future.