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Connect First—Your Marketing Magic Bullet

Connect first

I had a real treat recently, when I guided 400 smart and focused fundraisers to build their marketing skills at the Practical Planned Giving Conference (PPGC).

Whenever I speak, on whatever topic in whatever format, I get one question more frequently than any other—What is the marketing magic bullet?

That question may be hidden in a request for the specific combination of emails, social, letters and face-to-face meetings works best, or what messages to feature in which campaigns, or how to get colleague and leadership support for your marketing work or….but ultimately, it’s all about your quest for that magic bullet.

Believe it or not, there is a magic bullet: Get to know your people—your supporters and your prospects. This understanding, along with clear marketing goals, enables you to

1) forge connections with the right people (those most likely to help, with whom you share hopes and goals)

2) guides your marketing decisions.

It works. It works when you’re getting to know a new friend, and finally figure out what’s a good time for you to check in (not until the kids are in bed on weeknights) and that her dad’s Alzheimer’s disease is her greatest worry right now. And it works when you’re new on staff and building a connection with your board chair—you learn what her goals are for her tenure, her favorite foods, the names of her children and her stylistic idiosyncrasies; and she learns that you’re getting your MBA at night, have three kids in college and are crazy about knitting. Since you care, and you understand her (and vice versa), you’re able to work together much more productively than you would otherwise. Because you connect over shared goals and shared whatever else!

Without that connection, you’ll get nowhere. That’s who-cares marketing, and may in fact lead you to alienate the very folks you hope to nurture as friends and supporters.

I crave connection, and I bet you do too. That’s what humans are all about. We want to be understood and valued, to feel that a friend, colleague or really anyone we’re interacting with, gets us. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Since marketing is about relationship building—everything you do between asks—connection IS the marketing magic bullet.


Nancy Schwartz

The preceding is a guest post by Nancy Schwartz, Speaker-Author-Strategist, Nancy helps nonprofits like yours succeed through effective marketing. For more nonprofit marketing guidance like this, subscribe to her e-update at

Topics: Communications Marketing