Pick Up the Phone! Why Your Marketing Plan Needs a Personal Touch

Phone in handI am a big fan of phone calls. I spend most of day in meetings and on the phone. Why? Because I can’t land new deals or big deals via email, just doesn’t happen. When we launch websites, I try to call the client contact and the CEO within a few weeks to say thank you. On the weekends, I call my friends, I don’t just post Facebook updates. Recently, I’ve noticed a bias against phone calls. During a roundtable discussion with a group of association executives about meetings and tradeshows, I asked how many make phone calls to past attendees or must-have attendees. Only 1 association had an active phone initiative. Why not make phone calls? I got these reasons: it’s too hard to do, it’s too expensive, it’s too time-consuming.

I’m grateful to Michael Lanham of Learning Forward for sharing a recent study featured in The NonProfit Times. Here’s an excerpt:

“During the 2014 International Fundraising Congress (IFC), Geoffrey W. Peters, chairman of CDR Fundraising Group, shared the findings of his organization with a test it undertook. Of 6,225 total donors, 1/3 got no acknowledgement, just ongoing mail; 1/3 got a thank you note; 1/3 got a phone call. Here are the astonishing results from the test:

  • Thank-you calls increase subsequent giving. The subsequent gift rate for donors who received a call was 47 percent higher than those who received no thank-you response and 22 percent higher than those who received a thank-you note.
  • The thank-you call increased the average size of the subsequent gifts. The average gift from donors who called was 8.3 percent higher than those who received no acknowledgment and 3.5 percent higher than those who received the note.
  • The donors who received the phone call generated an additional $8,661 in gross revenue at a 2.4:1 return on investment (ROI).”
With results like this, isn’t it worth exploring how we can integrate phone calls into our membership recruiting, new member onboarding, fundraising, meeting campaigns, and exhibitor recruiting? Here are some ideas:
  • Make phone calls to new members to say thank you for joining, to explain the membership path, and give them concrete ways to become involved right away.
  • Make phone calls to past attendees of meetings to say thanks for attending in the past and here’s why you should come this year.
  • Make phone calls to people who donate their time and money to your foundation or cause.
  • Make phone calls to random members throughout the year to ask them how your organization can do better.
When I was a fundraiser many years ago for the San Francisco Education Fund, my boss used to say, “Joanna, people don’t give money to causes. They give money to people.” Most of my trade association and professional society clients tell me that people join and stay because of the people, the networking opportunities, and the access to people in the industry. So I say let’s put the people back in our marketing and make some phone calls!