This is the second to last installment in the “Creating Donor Evangelist” series. As a reminder, Huba and McConnell’s six “Creating Customer Evangelist” themes are:
1. Customer Plus-Delta: Understanding the Love
2. Napsterize Your Knowledge: Give to Receive
3. Build the Buzz: Spreading the Word
4. Create Community: Bringing Customers Together
5. Bite-Size Chunks: From Sampling to Evangelism
6. Create a Cause: When Business is Good

Today we’ll explore number 5: Bite-Size Chunks.

The concept of sampling is a time-honored marketing tool. It brings up memories of walking through the food court in a mall and having a tray of teriyaki chicken pieces impaled on toothpicks shoved in my face. Evidently, these little bite-size chunks are to convince me to buy a whole meal. McConnell and Huba advocate using some sort of “starter” product—a public seminar, a low cost offering, or a trial version—to let customers have a low risk way of testing your high-end services. They say the benefits are:

• It reduces the risk for decision makers who are purchasing from you for the first time.

• It eliminates inhibitors to the purchase, such as cost or time.

• It gets your great product into the customers’ hands and minds.

• It shortens the sales cycle and provides a strategic opportunity for customers to experience your products sooner rather than later.

• It spreads buzz by introducing the product or service to more people who can then tell others about it.

• It builds goodwill with customers because it provides value without requiring a large purchase.

Those who were in my “How to Ask for Money” seminar last week will immediately recognize the nonprofit correlation to sampling: providing choices. Unlike “napsterizing your knowledge,” this step involves an actual financial commitment by the donor.

“Sampling” could be as simple as inviting them to join a lower gift club. It’s important that the gift club be small enough for it to be palatable but big enough to put the donor on your organization’s radar screen. For some organizations, $300 per year gets a donor on their assignment lists; for others it’s $1000. You decide.

Sampling could also be breaking a large annual gift into smaller monthly commitments. Did you know that $1000 per year is only $84 per month? These smaller “samples” could give a donor the experience of joining the $1000 gift club before they’ve actually given all of the money.

Once the prospect becomes a donor, be sure to give them value: monthly emails, personal notes, gifts; whatever is appropriate for your organization. Invite them to the “creating community” activities we discussed in the last issue. Give them something to believe in. As McConnell and Huba point out, “Customers believe in causes important to them, and they want to contribute to the success of those causes.” Show them how important the work of your organization is and they’ll be much more likely to give in the future. And too hopefully give more than their “sampling” gift.

We’ll talk about creating a cause more in the next issue.

What kind of “sampling” would make sense for your organization? Is it child sponsorship? Or some other form of monthly giving? Or is it spreading a large gift over multiple years? “$1000 per year for the next three years” may be a more palatable way to ask for $3000.

This step isn’t flashy or new but it IS seriously underutilized when raising money. How can you begin putting it into practice this week?

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