“Take this,” she said with a smile, “it could change your life.”
Now, I’m sure this kind, nicely-dressed senior citizen meant well as she approached me in the parking lot of the post office — a fact that made me (almost) feel bad about throwing the pamphlet she just handed me into the trash as soon as she wasn’t looking.
The trouble with this sort of marketing — be it religious, academic, or product-based — is that it typically runs directly counter to the organization’s goals. I’m not a marketing expert, but I suspect that ‘0% conversion’ is probably a bad thing.
Still, you see this type of “grassroots marketing” all the time! Why? Is it because it’s cheap? Relatively easy to implement? Reaches a large number of people with minimal effort on the part of the organization? Of course, all of these things are true. However, what is the point of these campaigns — no matter how cheap, easy, or client-prolific they may be — if, in the end, you are no better off than when you started?
Any salesperson will tell you that not every ‘potential’ or ‘prospect’ will end in a sale, just as any religionist will assert they may spread the message of their faith to hundreds of people, and only touch the hearts of a few dozen.
But both parties would likely agree that their efforts are based on more than a mere game of numbers. Both groups are seeking engaged and enthusiastic people to join their cause, not just bored folks with nothing else better to do.
Unfortunately, the solution to this ineffective model may not be simple or desirable. It involves time, patience, diligence… and money — luxuries not every organization is able to afford.
So, instead of hurting the feelings of this sweet old lady, I will likely continue to accept her unsolicited reading material, and continue to deposit said material into the ‘round file.’ I suppose that makes me part of the problem. The situation is not ideal, to say the least.
But through it all, I’ll remain optimistic that one day her group — and the thousands of other organizations currently embracing this ill-fated model — will seek a more targeted, streamlined approach — one that reaches the right people at the right time, and results in a mutually-beneficial bottom line. I hope that day comes sooner than later.
by Peter P. Gaseoustania
Residential Life Magazine