Invest in the process
I still buy music. Even though I’ve embraced the mp3 as much as the next guy, I’m old enough that buying music is still a habit. Plus, I have musician family members, and I don’t like to steal from them.
But most people don’t buy music anymore. Especially young people. A singer-songwriter I like recently wrote a blog post about coming to terms with this fact. He relies almost solely on ticket sales to his live shows.
Then, after viewing Amanda Palmer’s TedTalk on the Art of Asking and witnessing the wild success of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign (more than 90,000 fans of the TV show invested nearly $6,000,000 for a movie version), this singer-songwriter made a pitch of his own.
With the loss of revenue from album sales, it was getting harder and harder for him to return to the studio. If people wanted new music, they’d need to help him.
It turned out that his fans loved being a part of something two-directional. Rather than a simple transaction (he makes music; they buy/don’t buy music), he let them own a part of the creative process. He raised the money he needed for his project nearly overnight. And he posted a video of his obvious genuine emotion and surprise at the outpouring of support.
This is probably why your most ardent donors give to your organization. They love being a part of the important work you do. It’s not just that you change lives; it’s how you change lives.
We see this in the way some of our clients work with us, as well. Some come to us just wanting a perfect logo (or other final product). Like me, they’re still buying the music. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
Others invest in our process. They become valuable partners in the creation of their new identity. They bring a content expert’s point-of-view to their new messaging. They help us find unexpected opportunities in an awareness campaign. They go through the ups and downs of the creative process with us. We sometimes defer to their expertise; they sometimes defer to ours. We push each other and challenge each other. We occasionally get frustrated. We often find joy in the collaboration. We experience setbacks and successes, and we go through them all together.
And in the end, it’s incredibly rewarding. The new identity, messaging document, campaign, website—whatever the final music is in this overblown metaphor—belongs to us all. We can look at the creative work in front of us and know that we had a role in shaping its beauty.
That’s awfully great.