Monday, 27 August 2012

When personalisation is anything but...personal

Last week, I came home to a hand-written card in beautiful bonded paper and hand stamped.  It looked like a wedding invitation.  I was very excited.  When I turned it over though it was branded Jo Malone. Okay, I thought - why is Jo Malone writing to me? I was intrigued....

Now I was going to scan the actual card in here - but as someone wrote the card and personally signed it - I feel it would be unfair to put that much scrutiny in their direction. However, this is what the card read:

Dear Ms A Santer

Thank you for visiting Jo Malone London.
I do hope you enjoyed your recent visit to our Jo Malone boutique.

I look forward to welcoming you back to discover the world of Jo Malone(TM)

Kind regards

Named person

My immediate reaction was 'Why?'  I say that as for me, despite the apparently personal nature of the letter, it actually felt anything but personal in the end.
  1. Though the card consisted of just 7 lines of writing - Jo Malone featured in 3 of them.  On top of having the branded paper as well, it felt like a sales pitch and almost a minor brain washing exercise. 
  2. There was no real reason for the communication.  Don't get me wrong - there was a thank you at the top - but it felt secondary to brand promotion. For me, personalisation would have been better utilised had it asked me whether I was enjoying the cologne that I had recently purchased or had referred to an event or something coming up that may have been of interest.  It seemed pointless and thus not genuine.

Now, as fundraisers, it is vital that we find that personal touch when it comes to communicating to our supporters.  The little nuances that let people who support our cause know that they are valued. That they are more than a unique reference number, that let them know that we know something about them and that we care and value their commitment to us.

As such personalisation is nothing new and is increasingly part of communications plans and creative approaches.  However, a cautionary point. There are times when that personal touch can feel any thing but - and it is wise to remember that the next time you are paying for hand writing or hand stamping because what you are saying and why you are saying it, is still more important than the mode of delivery. So don't do it for the sake of it and don't fake it either.

To me, the best communications deliver ROI - that is Relevance, Originality and Impact. Relevant to the person they are meant for, Original in that they tell the supporter something new, or indeed how they are making a difference and Impact, because if the other two are right then the communication will have stood out amongst some of the more generic, less well thought out pieces they will probably have received that day or week.

I know this may sound harsh.  But in this case, my disappointment is greater because I actually like Jo Malone products.  I often buy their products as gifts and for me personally and as a result I have an impression of them.  This approach goes against this.  To me, they are more than just lovely packaging.  But on this occasion, that was not the case. So beware.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.

Friday, 10 August 2012

It's not about the difficulty it's about the execution at the end of the day.

The Olympics have been wonderful.  And I am not sure where I will gain my daily 'hit' of euphoria once the Olympics and the Paralympics leave our shores for good. It has truly been a time of memorable moments, outstanding performances and history being made daily.  With that has come many tears and blubbage (even had its own #) if the twitterverse is anything to go by. Oh if we could bottle that!

But to me one of the most memorable moments, for a number of reasons was this. Heartbreaking due to the injustice almost of the decision and inspiring due to the absolute professionalism and true gentleman like behaviour of Louis Smith in the face of such a cruel application of the rule book.

But the reason why it was memorable was how the 'winner' was decided - the decision came down to the marks on execution.  The difficulty rating of Smith's spectacular pommel routine was higher - and the overall score was equal with Krisztian Berki's but he executed his routine better according to the judges and the gold medal was lost in that moment.

Is it fair? Who can say. But despite my odd soggy eye in response to the amazing Olympic achievements of TeamGB, up to that point I had not really shed tears - for Louis Smith I did - it was a cruel way to lose a gold medal and I was gutted for him.

My reason for raising it here is as a simple reminder.  That though there is much debate over who invented or first used what fundraising technique in the sector (though I appreciate for the people who know they did - this isn't a debate), or who even 'copied' an idea - the fact is that those that executed the techniques and ideas the best and continue to, are the ones remembered or associated with them the most positively - not those that necessarily faced the difficulty of trying something new and different but who may have let themselves down on the final delivery.

And though it is hopefully stating the bleeding obvious, when it comes to your next fundraising project or idea - just bear this in mind. Allow ample time to implement and execute it properly and ensure that the materials, systems and processes required to support it internally and externally are there.  If you don't have to compromise the quality to achieve the deadline - then you are half way there. If you don't, someone could swoop in, take your idea and then do the whole thing better than you.

After all often it will be your supporters or potential supporters that will be judging what you do - and they could well be your harshest critics.

Thanks as ever for stopping by.