Direct Marketing – The Commercial Donations


You have probably seen them before, dressed up in iconic recognizable shirts aimed to catch your sincerest attention to help a fellow person. Direct Marketing is the hidden gem of commercial donations. An occupation of powerful smiles of beaming sunshine, inviting hand-gestures and innocence pitches, direct marketing is the modern day leading medium for commercial charity fundraising. Except it has little to do with marketing.

Hiding under the bright colors of visual awareness promotion, direct marketing is essentially just another synonym for face-to-face sales. Rapport building, story-telling and sales pitching are the same basic foundation for a successful sales of a donation as let’s say, insurance. In the end, it’s still the same:

Can one convince the other that you are excited about the product?

Whether a donation is for a good cause has little to do with whether you want to purchase a product or not. If you have the money, then all you need to be convinced of is that you want to spend it because you think it’s beneficial. Maybe it will gain you monetary rewards, or perhaps you wish to build up your karma for the after-life or even if it’s just to make yourself get that warm fuzzy feeling at the end of the day, whatever the reason may be, it all comes down to one thing, satisfactory pleasure. Fundraisers go through the exact same learning process as a salesperson and it’s all based on previously proven business models. You may have heard about some of them:

Model Meaning
KISS – Keep It Short & Simple Be direct and easy to understand on the closing. The more you tell them, the more reason you give them to refuse your proposal (unless specifically asked about).
SEE – Smile, Eye-contact, Enthusiasm People are attracted to positive vibes/energy. It lets the guard down and creates an environment where people are more open to suggestions.
ACE – Attitude, Consistency, Exposure Maintain a positive attitude throughout the whole work day and show them to everyone who walks past.

Each of these (and more) are all “proven” work ethic models that bring out the best potential to hooking a customer from the streets. And it’s true. Every fundraising team member has something to sell. But what they sell isn’t the product, it is for the majority themselves.

Fundraisers are attractive people. They each have a quirk among them that settles with passerbys like Victoria’s Secret Angels do with people around the world. There is this stint of attractiveness that is brought out to be made full use of against every person who unknowingly falls into this little trap. There’s a certain level that can be achieved through training. Firstly one must understand and know the product. Knowing is half the trick. It eases your mind and gives you that natural vibe as if you’ve been doing it for years. The second part involves being responsive. Sales pitches are about the ability to respond in such way that would collect points from the other party. Saying exactly the things they want to hear that would make them less negative about the things you do. Timing, word-choice, tones are all things that matter in such cases.

That is why fundraising vacancies usually don’t ask for experienced people (although it would provide a big boost during the job application). But the essential thing about face-to-face sales is that it cannot be taught in theory. First of all, it is highly reliant on personality. To have the outgoing personality, the sociability and the natural ease and energy is very important to become a successful face-to-face salesperson. Skills are learned on the job. Adapting to each environment and seeing the linear structural approach to every customer is how the development happens for each salesperson. After a while each customer is categorized so specifically that it becomes almost instinctive to close deals (except for the one or two exceptions).

Generally the norm for a salesman is to have the hunger, the ambition, the energy and the drive to race towards his goals; someone who is dying to become the very best and to perform as the best and the reason for that is because in some way, sales can be relatively repetitive at times. Not withholding irregular exceptions, it is the same pitch, the same talk over and over again. To divide the repetition from the unique and original, one needs to stay focused at what they want. It is a goal-based occupation and it is one where determination overwhelmingly beats the odds.

The law of averages is what some call it. Perform well and perform on a large scale and eventually good results will come out. The only pre-requisite is that you learn to identify the slightly bigger fish and know which rod to use and when to pull. Eventually everyone figures it out.

The goal-factor, however, is the same reason as to why sales is a highly competitive-natured business. In the end, only the key performance indicators matter, your stats, your sales-efficiency. It also means that when it comes down to the line, little is done about teamwork. Everyone competes for their own salary and thus there is hardly any sense of camaraderie. Teamwork exists only to create a level playing field after which everyone is on their own. It means that the only collective spirit is that of mutual comparative success. The ladder-bottom execution of capitalism lies in a hot pursuit for the riches.

It means that personalities need to match the job and not everyone is suitable. But for what it’s worth, it can make the great greater.

All you need to do is find out if you’re a fit inside this capitalist model. And for those wondering why fundraisers should be capitalist, here is the following video.

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