Bliou Enterprises

Share/Bookmark

Posts Tagged ‘Baby Boomers’

Fix It Or Forget It?

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Work can be tough when everything depends on how the boss communicates.  Is it simply a matter of adapting, or constantly bending over backward for someone who’s never going to be satisfied?  See what Esther* and Fern* did.

When Esther* came to me, she was worried.  As an older employee, she felt that starting a job search at her age would be a never-ending task, since she expected to face a great deal of age discrimination.

On the other hand, she told me that she already was, in her opinion.  Since her new manager came on board last year – a much younger manager – it seemed that he wasn’t really interested in hearing any of her ideas when he asked the team for their input.

The new manager made a point over the past year to emphasize that he wanted “everybody’s” ideas, Esther told me; however, although she contributed nearly every time by emailing him a suggestion or two – well before the stated dealine – he very rarely brought her ideas up for discussion during the bi-monthly staff meetings.  In fact, there had been occasions when similar ideas to hers were discussed . . . and other staff members were credited.

I examined Ester’s process of submitting her ideas more closely – particularly when the similar ideas made it to the meeting, asking her, “How did other staff members submit their ideas to the manager?”

Esther discovered that most of the (younger) members actually sent him text messages, rather than emails, much to her surprise.  She also reviewed her emails on the topics and found a couple of responses from the manager, asking her to send him a consolidated version prior to the meeting.

“I thought that I had,” Esther recounted, “But I’m pretty sure that was the month that he presented (and credited) someone else’s similar idea.”

I told Esther that I believed she could Fix It! by learning how to communicate with her Gen X boss in his preferred medium: texting.  Something that would help her become more comfortable and skilled in this area would be to open a Twitter account and learn how to tweet.

Not only does Twitter teach users how to succinctly make a statement, but the 140 character limit forces writers to make every word count.  Clearly, this type of writing is important to Esther’s boss, who just wants the bare minimum when collecting ideas for staff meetings.

Esther applied this new tactic, and within a few meetings, not only did she get her ideas on the agenda, but was complimented on her improved writing skills.  She is very pleased to know that she can continue being appreciated for her talents in her current job, rather than begin interviewing.

Fern* had seen firsthand how difficult the economy was for people.  For the past couple of years, her cousins had been out of work – searching, to no avail – and living with her.

She had a very difficult boss, but didn’t feel she had any choice about putting up with him.  It was obvious to her that the job market was difficult, and she felt lucky just to have a job.  Besides, other people were counting on her – it wasn’t just about her.

Recently, though, the fog had begun to lift.  Each of her cousins had found positions that were permanent, and had begun to save some money.  In several more months, they were planning on moving out, to get their own apartment!

Just knowing that things were going to settle down was making her home life much less stressful, which had the side effect of allowing Fern to really notice exactly how stressful her workplace really was, though – with a kind of laser-like focus.

Fern began to see that the CEO’s odd behavior wasn’t solely directed at her, for one thing, but that others had similar frustrations, not knowing what to expect from him, one day to the next.

She could see that this was the crux of the difficulty, actually:  he was so unpredictable and moody day to day, that his mood swings often greatly affected her mood afterward.

The CEO’s demeanor frequently would oscillate to great extremes, often playing out during meetings, as well as affect policy decisions.

For example, there were numerous planning meetings, where the CEO sat nearly sullen and silent, leading others to speak up more, ultimately heading the project and making the decision on what would happen, because as everyone looked to the CEO, he either nodded or clearly didn’t care, from his shrug.

Later, (often much later) when a great deal of the project was in the works, the CEO would step in, sneer, and either dismantle it altogether, or find so much fault that it ended up getting such a makeover that it didn’t even resemble the original design!

Other times, the CEO was so engaged from the start, nobody could get a word in edgewise during the planning stage, but it was just as well.  Clearly, he only wanted “yes men,” so people either nodded vigorously, or sat silent, waiting for their assignments and watching the clock.

Those who had been through his “mania” before knew that he’d lose interest in whatever he was currently feverish about soon enough, anyway, so there really was no point in volunteering for something that would be altered or shelved, so why bother?

As Fern considered this repetitive pattern, she told me, it gave her a bit of relief.

“I suppose it could have made me even MORE depressed, but I think it was what I needed:  a chance to step back and look at the situation rationally.  My fear of my circumstances had just gripped me before, but now, I could see that it really was him, and not me . . . and that I needed to Forget It!

Without others depending so much upon her, and an indication that the job market was a bit better, Fern decided to start looking for a job for herself.

Although it did take several months, Fern feels that she wouldn’t have been a good candidate before her change in attitude and outlook, anyway.

“I am so relieved to be in a new atmosphere,” she says.  “It’s incredibly different, to be headed to work and think about the tasks I’ll be facing, rather than wonder – with trepidation – what sort of emotional storm lies ahead today!”

Do you have a Fix It or Forget It? story to share?  Send it to me, and it might help others.  Identifying features will be altered prior to publishing.

___________________________________________________________________________________
Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

Similar Posts:

Merle* and Naomi* deal with age gaps in the workplace

Lynn* deals with her OCD manager

Gabrielle* found a way to be more relevant

Diversity Requires Effort, Not Merely a Posture

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Nonprofits know they need to better diversify their marketing efforts.  New research shows that most companies do a poor job of advertising to ethnic minorities.  (When asked for an effective brand, most respondents couldn’t name one.)

To ensure that your nonprofit is in the forefront of constituents’ minds, what can you do? It will take more than being available for them to contact, donate and volunteer!  You will have to learn how to appeal to the various segments of people in your target markets.  Most likely, they each have their own special wants, needs, likes, dislikes and preferences.

In addition to understanding the ethnic makeup of your supporters, many other demographics are necessary, but it doesn’t stop there – and you shouldn’t presume to know without due diligence.  Many people will make assumptions about age, for example, rather than doing research.

A common misperception has to do with age and technology.  Often, people take for granted that Boomers (and older) are not online, don’t donate online and don’t use cell phones, texting, etc., while Millenials are the primary consumers of all things technical, leaving those in between somewhere in the middle.  This is a dangerous assumption, not to mention full of holes.

Research is showing that smartphone penetration is not only increasing across all markets, but Gen X and Y account for the largest market share.  In addition, all segments donate online, and Convio’s The Wired Wealthy study dispels myths about online gifts only coming from younger, smaller donors.

When looking at differences between the genders, it’s been established that women – particularly wealthy women – drive the philanthropic decisions in most households, so particular attention must be paid here, not only to the type of appeal, but in details such as follow up, acknowledgment, etc.  It’s important to most women donors that they learn about how their donation is being used and what affect it has had.  Not providing personal, meaningful feedback is a sure way to lose women donors.

A subset of Millenials has been identified recently – the Post88s.  GirlApproved has identified this demographic as a separate segment of female consumer/donor who responds differently than her predecessor, and therefore, will require a different marketing pitch.  Would you agree?

Another thing we know is that women spend more time on social networking than men do, while men spend a greater amount of time watching videos online, and the amount of video consumed is increasing substantially.  These are things to keep in mind when preparing your campaigns.

You still may have a couple of annual or semi-annual appeals that you want to send across the board, but clearly, it will help to really study your constituents and understand how they exist in smaller clusters of people, too.  Have they been long time supporters for years, or are they specifically donors to your XYZ fund?  Do they always attend your spring event?  Are they inclined to volunteer?  What sets them apart from other constituents?  How do they typically respond?

The need for segmentation was recently demonstrated by a Dunham + Company study which showed that email length and relevance were the most important factors compelling donors to either respond or disengage from a campaign.  Surprisingly, frequency of communication was not among the complaints found.  Effective, targeted – and concise – messaging is what’s most desired.

Diversity also includes more than ethnicity, age and gender.  How accessible is your organization to people with various disabilities?  When you hold an event, are you certain that it is wheelchair accessible?  Do you ask on your registration forms if attendees will need interpretive services for the deaf?  What about your website?  You may be planning to make it mobile-friendly in 2012, but what about making it equal access for the blind?

Of course, a nonprofit that does or doesn’t dedicate itself to true diversity in marketing most likely has a parallel situation internally.  Much of the problems an organization has with their prospecting approach begins with internal issues, such as lack of diversity with their staff and board.  This hasn’t changed much over the years.

When all the ideas are coming from one type of perspective, it’s not surprising that there’d be a homogenous approach resulting from the organization.  There’s even a greater danger when all the power is resting with one set of individuals over another, staffing-wise.  This is when power corrupts.  Diversity has many benefits.

Marketing with old stereotypes and assumptions just won’t cut it any longer, even if you do segment.  Consumers and donors are more demanding now.  If you want them to remember you (fondly), you’ll have to work for it.

____________________________________________________________________________
Keep the base of the pyramid strong

Similar Posts

How Do You Address Your Donors?

How Do You Retain the Donors You Have?

Are You Making the Most of Email?

Stone Soup – What’s YOUR Recipe?

Monday, October 11th, 2010

There are many versions of the story of Stone Soup, but most people have heard one or another. The point, of course, is that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. I tend to view all of the soup ingredients as the various aspects needed for a good “Annual Giving recipe” these days.

While one could certainly make a meal out of a basic chicken broth and noodles (e.g., a couple of direct mail pieces and an occasional phone call), that really isn’t a very fancy “soup,” when you consider the plethora of ingredients available on the market these days: email, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, video, text messaging, and so on.

Although not every non profit is equipped to do as much as the next, this year-end giving season is the perfect time to seize the opportunity to learn and do more with your Annual Giving plan. Particularly with projections looking less favorable for donors to increase their giving, non profits will need to find new and creative ways to compensate.

Several organizations have already seen their increased social media efforts pay off – many of them in substantial ways, either with publicity efforts, volunteer support, or outright fund raising.

Recent studies released show results not only how much the four most frequently used social media sites are being used by various age groups, but also additional details on their frequency of using social media, texting and much more. It’s clear that, while the Millennials are the technology leaders, they are by no means the only demographic consuming social media, videos or using their cell phones for internet or texting.

It’s important to take notes from other successful sites and see what you can do at this time.  One such organization is the ASPCA.  While your site may not be as sophisticated as theirs, it’s worth viewing the wide variety of social media interfaces on their Get Involved page and general Online Activism center.   For example, perhaps you could provide instructional videos or PSAs about your mission or services – or, conversely, you might invite your constituents to submit their own videos about how they are involved in lobbying, serving, or otherwise supporting your cause.

Whichever segment(s) you choose to add or modify to your campaign, though, it’s important to track and/or segment what you do. Keeping up with industry research is vital to planning, but tracking the reality of how your organization’s data actually performs is crucial to your follow up. In many cases, it will follow industry standards, but not always. It pays to prepare your data ahead of time.

It will depend on the parameters of your data, but several segments that many organizations typically segment and measure may include current donors, LYBUNTs, SYBUNTs, lapsed, lower-level, mid-level, upper-level (however this is defined at your organization), and also perhaps certain membership levels (duration, geography, age range, etc.).

Additional tests are useful, such as days of the week for electronic communications, as well as various wording of subject lines or calls to action. For direct mail, testing results take longer to receive, but are worth doing to continuously improve results. These include letter length, enclosures, envelope design, size, etc.

If you believe that campaigning in social media is going to be too difficult to accomplish in your organization because of persuading those in charge, one way to broach the subject may be to suggest testing. Try Group A with what you have typically done with your campaign, but supplement Group B with a social media conversation about what you are doing, and why donations are so meaningful, what will be accomplished (that is meaningful to them), etc.

Just as Boomers have come to the social media party late – but they have finally arrivedso, too, it would seem have many executives. A great deal more are beginning to realize the value of social media. They have even become participants in larger numbers recently. Some still have their concerns, of course, so tracking and proof can help to alleviate such anxieties.

Just as in the story of Stone Soup, the more buy-in you can get for adding additional ingredients, the better the final product will be.
______________________________________________________________________________
Keep the base of the pyramid strong

My Feeling Is…More Facts Are Needed!

Monday, August 30th, 2010

One of the hardest positions to be in is to find that your organizational strategy is based entirely upon not what’s been requested, nor even what’s been successful (since no tracking has been done), but solely the personal opinions of a select few in management who feel that they speak for all.

It’s simply too easy to assume that “we know this group” and set our campaign toward them on auto-pilot; however, this can have detrimental or disastrous consequences, because all groups evolve, adapt and change.  When an organization, company or medium fails to listen, notice or adapt with them, this is a formula for disaster.  Mike Frey makes a good argument about how social media was created because traditional media didn’t pay attention and became further and further removed from its customer base.

Research toward your constituents should be ongoing, segmented and with dual considerations:  Industry-wide data is important to monitor, but you also need to keep tabs on what your own organizational data is as well.  They may not follow the same trends in all circumstances.

When reviewing and segmenting social media data, for example, we see that overall use is growing at an incredible rate among seniors, particularly in the 50 – 64 age category.  While their consumption does not yet equal that of the 18 – 29 age group, it is notable that the rate of increase has roughly doubled in the last year . . . and the year before that.  The rate of increase in social media usage is clearly higher among these seniors than any other group.

This research explains the trends of the data that gut feelings might not, such as:

•     It’s likely that even greater numbers of Boomers will join the ranks of social networking as more of them get high speed internet
•     Older adults tend to be home bound in greater numbers, and appreciate being connected with loved ones online

There are many ways that social networking engages participants of all ages, too.  Consider the plethora of online games and the market penetration of such things as FarmVille viewed on grocery shelves.  This crosses a variety of demographics.

A common misperception about a different segment is that Generation Y exists exclusively online, and the only way to approach them is through Facebook, but there is never just one way.  For one thing, recent studies have documented Facebook Fatigue among Millenials, who are finding it less cool, now that their parents and grandparents are joining in droves.

Teenagers and young adults elsewhere are showing additional offline trends as well:  In Australia, they are using the web as a means to search for ways to shop offline; and there’s documentation that German teens are becoming more interested in face-to-face time these days, too.

American Gen Y entrepreneurs have also recently been meeting with one another in person to brainstorm about how best to create new ideas, including starting the largest Google Doc.

We can’t be positive what the next new trend(s) will be or exactly what our constituents will want from us in the coming year(s).  What is certain, however, is that we must continue to learn all we can about their needs, desires – and proven response rates and meet them where they are . . . not where we decide they should be.

______________________________________________________________________________
Keep the base of the pyramid strong

© 2010 Bilou Enterprises, All Rights Reserved
Site designed and developed by zline media group, inc
Share/Bookmark