Who’s on Your Mailing List?

Amid all the news we’ve been hearing about our economy that’s still in crisis, Capital One has one of the most memorable series of advertising campaigns today, where each commercial ends with the question, “What’s in your wallet?”  I’m sure many of us respond, “Not much.”

For this week’s Marketing Matter, let’s take “What’s in Your Wallet,” and change it up a little to “Who’s on Your Mailing List?”  While marketing to parents of prospective students leads to enrollment, the other constituencies of your school must also be marketed to.  And, since marketing is education, the students in your school aren’t the only ones that must be educated.  Your potential donors must also be educated.  That not only includes those individuals that may give you a major gift, but foundations that award grant monies must also be aware of your school’s accomplishments!

If you’ve tried your hand at writing a grant, you’ve probably found out that much of the hard work begins after the grant has been written (which is a daunting task in itself). That work involves “shopping it around” to various foundations that may be open to your project. This is where networking becomes VERY important, as people you know on foundation boards will be the ones that will advance your proposal and advocate for its funding when the board reviews the proposals.

If you’re lucky enough to get a FADICA Funding Guide resource (available from http://www.fadica.org/) you’ll find many foundations that have the potential for funding your project. However, you’ll also find that many of those organizations do not take requests to fund projects.

So, how do they pick what they’ll fund?

Perhaps you should add these foundations to your mailing list. These would be the people to whom you send a positive, “spotlight on the achievements and the kids” eNewsletter to.  Remember, you’re not asking the organization for funding…you’re telling them what’s going on at your school. They can’t ask you to submit a proposal for a potential gift they’d like to give you if they not aware of your school’s “remarkability!”

Lots of people purge mailing lists in order to save on postage, paper and printing. Five years ago, I said this is why it makes sense to use a service to provide an eNewsletter, such as iContact (http://www.icontact.com), Constant Contact (http://www.constantcontact.com), or MailChimp (http://www.mailchimp.com). Now, there’s quite a few more of these services available.  By using these services, you can add a bit of coding to your Web site so that visitors can automatically sign up to be placed on your mailing list, and they can manage their own subscription preferences. The great thing is that you can track all that information to see who’s opened your email, and who’s clicked on a link to get to more information (which should be housed on your school’s Web site).  You can’t do that when you mail first class…and it’ll never get there on time if you mail it Library Rate.

Just to show how fast times are changing, though, there’s a school of thought that says that people don’t read eNewsletters anymore either!  With the deluge of material that’s available today on the Internet and through email, people are looking for ways to purge without reading.  If you agree with this statement, you now know why a mix of social media is important today!  Your message need to be distributed via at least 5 different channels – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and your eNewsletter – and they all connect back to your Web site.  The eNewsletter is still important to some folks…but the paper newsletter is dead.  If you still want to publish something in paper, make it your annual report – substantial, color, nice paper, gloss finish.  Think “professional publication.”  If you’re thinking you can’t afford that, it’s better not to have it than to create something that conveys the message, “Hey, we’re cutting back on costs, so we’re doing an all-text newsletter and we’ll copy it on inexpensive 20# paper.”  Your publications are a reflection of your school, and if you’re going to say you’re the best choice for parents to education their children, then your paper publications can’t look second (or third or fourth) best.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2009-2014 (Original Publication Date: 20090223)