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Competing with Justin Bieber

February 17 2011 | Communications,
by Jim

I've always thought that non-profits don't compete with other non-profits as much as they compete with every alternative a person can invest their time, energy and resources into. Non-profits, like for-profits, compete with Starbucks, Target, ESPN and someone reading a book. When Justin Bieber is this month's flavor of the month, we are competing with him regardless of what we think of him. Once we realize we are competing with consumer brands I'm guessing we'll also start to do two things better. To say that another way... today non-profits do the following very poorly. 1. Invest resources into packaging mission to drive understanding and personal connection. Toms Shoes does this well... buy a pair of shoes and another person gets a pair of shoes. Period. The killer idea isn't the shoe, the style or the name... it's the idea that when you wear a pair of Tom's shoes others see you as caring enough about people's needs that you bought a pair of shoes for someone. That packaging is simple. You may call that shallow, I call it brilliant because it's understandable. So how does your business convey what its selling? Regardless if you're selling microchips or environmental conservation... how do you make your value proposition quickly understandable by a 10 year old? How are you building that personal connection point? How are you competing with Justin Bieber? 2. Near effortless conversion from awareness to connection. There is a common belief that for every click a website forces a visitor to make, they lose 50% of their audience. This same idea applies with non-profits. If we make anything hard then we should realize we're losing a large percent of possible supporters. We must strive to make it super easy for people to get information and then to convert into becoming a supporter. Think of the iPhone interface, hand it to a kid and they figure it out naturally and quickly. The same must go for our organizations. We not only have to compete with Justin Bieber... we need to win.
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