Madea Marketing

Apr 26, 2023

Any fatigued fundraisers out there? I see you. I was you.  A mere ten years ago I very much felt like a one-(wo)man band. As I entered the office on Mondays, I’d have to decide how I was going to activate our Asset Development Plan.  Oh, yes, we had a plan. It was a pretty descent plan as far as plans go.

It was several pages long and had been approved by our Board. It contained lots of big ideas but was missing two important ‘how’ components:

  1. An Execution Strategy—after all, ideas are a dime a dozen, but how they will be carried out is often absent.
  2. Capacity—ideas take money, time, and people, so how will it all get done without vital resources. 

TV gif. Sean Giambrone as Adam on the Goldbergs talks to someone whose back is facing us. Adam looks really offended, furrowing his eyebrows, and yelling, “really? How?”

You see, back then I was doing Madea Marketing…maybe you’re doing this now. What is Madea Marketing, you ask?  Well, in every Madea movie you’ll find that Tyler Perry wrote the movie, Tyler Perry directed the movie, Tyler Perry produced the movie, and Tyler Perry starred in the movie. That's right, all Tyler Perry all the time.

It sounds like one of your college group projects, doesn’t it? Like Tyler Perry, I was doing it all, but on a much smaller budget!  And while you can hobble along using this approach, it’s not a long-term strategy—it simply doesn’t scale.

Sadly, the results are often far less than the Asset Development Plan had dreamed of in black and white. Even sadder, those practicing Madea Marketing often burn out quickly, leaving the nonprofit field for greener pastures that provide the help they desperately needed in the first place.

We can certainly learn some lessons about Left Brain Marketing Methods and Right Brain Marketing Moxie from those who have gone down in flames using the Madea Marketing Method.

Madea Dancing GIF by BET Plus

Left Brain Marketing Methods:  Just like a financial budget, I truly believe that you can plan your work and work your plan with a Nonprofit Marketing Blueprint. Now, my preference would be that marketing and communicating with your donors to raise funds would be a team sport. I realize that can’t always happen, but it is possible. I’ve been doing it for nearly a decade and so have many other effective nonprofit orgs.

The left brain key here is to create a calendar for an entire year that will help guide how you will spend your time each week and each month. Your Financial Budget shows how you’ll spend money monthly, your Marketing Blueprint can dictate how you’ll spend your time. It’s a plan, a good guesstimate of what the mission of each marketing piece is, when the communications will be sent, who the best donors are to steward, and who the best person in your organization is to send the messages. Just like a budget, it won’t be perfect, but it will be a nice guide. Like the lines in the road, it gives you some flexibility while guiding you so you don't go off course too much.

All those decisions can be made with you left logical decision-making brain. Plus, you can make them it a relatively short period of time.  You don’t do and re-do your financial budget throughout the year. Same goes with a Marketing Blueprint. You use your data to make good decisions, outline what you plan to do for your year, and work you plan. It’s a necessary Left Brain Marketing Method.

Right Brain Marketing Moxie:  Even if you are the most creative person on the planet, coming up with multiple ideas that you have execute in masse is exhausting— and, I’d say, unnecessary. 

Although it’s true that not all donor segments should be treated the same way, you can still do less and still raise more. That’s why I developed Tad Libs. Remember the Mad Lib game from school, or maybe you played it at Cracker Barrel as a kid?  There was one structured story, yet each narrative changed based on the various nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. that you placed in the grid. You could play the same ‘game’ over and over again and end up with a different story every time. I loved them!

Tad Libs are the same way—you change a tad; you change a ton.  If you know you’re making a donor ask and you’ve planned to communicate about giving by making your nonprofit a designated beneficiary, then you have your main structure. Based on the donor segment you’re targeting, you’ll need to customize using the ION Key that I created. It’s called the ION Key because the customizable fields all end in ION. They are: 

  1. MISSION: What’s are you trying to communicate to the donor?
  2. ACTION: What do you want the donor to do?
  3. PERMISSION: Does the donor have an affinity for your org and the capacity to follow through?
  4. REMEDIATION: What current problem needs fixed?
  5. REVISION: What immediate change needs to be made?
  6. SOLUTION: What could be the best outcome?
  7. INTENTION: If the donor acts, what plan will you execute?
  8. PERSUASION: How does their involvement make things better?
  9. RETENTION: Did you express that you can’t do this without their help?
  10. CONVERSION: Did you impress them enough that they might even tell others in their network?
  11. PERSONALIZATION: Does this feel custom for the donor and true to your brand?

We need nonprofit ninjas like you to stay and slay your marketing game in the nonprofit genre.  Playing the role of Tyler Perry by being the director, producer, writer, and actor of your marketing madness, simply isn’t an effective long-term strategy.

stop the madness i give up GIF

It’s time to plan your work, work your plan and do less, while also raising more. Madea is great for a movie night, but Madea Marketing is two thumbs down, zero stars, do not recommend.

Start small but make a change. Marketing can be fun and get box office results, too—just like a Madea movie.

All My Best,

[email protected]
dawn brown creative, llc. 

P.S. Fundraising is hard, even though you make it look
oh-so easy! ♥

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