Sara Spivey

It’s hard to keep up with how fast communications technology is changing, let alone the implications of those changes. Even if you can’t immediately implement all of the best practices you hear about, it’s important that you understand where our field is headed — and that includes toward much more personalized and integrated communications. But that requires that you track data about your supporters and know how to use it. If you ignore these developments, as this guest post by Sara Spivey of Convio suggests, you could be alienating more people than you know.  ~Kivi

Guest Post by Sara Spivey of Convio

I live in a two name household.  I got married after I had already started down a career track and I decided to keep my maiden name for business purposes.  My husband was not bothered by this (although interestingly, it bothers my two daughters for some reason) so I’ve never changed it.  You would think in this day and age of divorces, remarriages, single parenting, domestic partner parenting and the like, this would not seem to stump ALMOST EVERY SINGLE ENTITY that sends us hard mail, e-mail, and solicits us by phone.  But it does.  The question I have is WHY???

The answer would appear simple—they don’t take the time to really know who I or my husband is, or how we are associated.  This is mildly irritating to me.  We’ve been married with two different names for 20 years.  You’d think Vendor A would know this by now.  It’s also expensive for them.  The amount of hard mail recycled (and before recycled put into a landfill somewhere), emails deleted, and phone messages not listened to is staggering.  But the “soft” cost of irritating me is even more expensive.  I haven’t bought anything at Vendor A for 5 years.  And I won’t, because I think their marketing department is full of idiots who can’t quite grasp the BASICS of householding.

I share this anecdote because it is but one microcosm of the effect that poorly integrated marketing has.  Multiply by millions of organizations and billions of people and think about the indirect and direct profit loss.  How much higher could the US GDP be if all these organizations captured 1% more revenue?  How much more investment in innovation and expansion could be made with a mere single percentage point of gross margin?  The impact could be staggering.

There are organizations that do it well, and I reward them richly as my Visa bill would attest.  For example, when I log into Vendor B (where we have a shared account), they ask me if I am Michael or Sara. They know what I purchased last, they suggest new items based on what I bought, and when I check out, they thank me.  They do the same for my husband.  They get a little confused by my teenagers because they buy under both of our credit cards, but all in all, a fantastic integrated experience.  Bravo.  Vendor B is one of the most profitable retailers in the world, and it isn’t JUST because they are 100% online.

My point is this:  A commitment to building an integrated marketing experience and really understanding your buyers or donors is the best investment you can make in long term marketing return and customer loyalty.  Make 2012 the year you commit to it.

Sara Spivey is the Chief Marketing Officer for Convio and is a member of the Integrated Marketing Advisory Board (IMAB), a collection of 12 industry-leading organizations with deep expertise in integrated marketing both in the nonprofit sector and the for-profit sector.

This post originally appeared on the IMAB blog. To see the original post or to learn more about the IMAB, visit the website at:


Published On: February 21, 2012|Categories: Communications Plans and Marketing Strategies, Fundraising|