Nailed It!

Jun 15, 2022

It’s not for everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed some #selfcare in the form of a mani/pedi recently. And I’m here to tell you that although it wasn’t cheap, I have no ‘ragrets’, not even one single letter. 

I remember when this new nail salon first came into town. They were using massage chairs recycled from an old salon, had boxes of supplies stacked up against a far wall due to the lack of time to organize, and operated mainly off walk-in traffic…no pre-planning required. It was the definition of hectic in a place that should be made for relaxation. I would say that I’m surprised the place is still open, but people are stressed and craving any self-care they can get—even the kind that comes with a side order of chaos.

Anyway, I opted to forego professional mani/pedis in 2020 because of Covid and even last year just to be cautious. But I thought I’d try it out again this year and witnessed some left brain marketing methods and right brain marketing moxie that I wanted to tell you about. Like the Bend and Snap, it works every time.

Left Brain Marketing Methods: While there I saw the cheerleading coach and a mom getting ready for her high school senior’s graduation. I witnessed two regulars, Lynn and Barbara, walk into this box shop in the middle of a small strip mall like they were Norm from Cheers. It didn’t take me long to realize that even small businesses, like nail salons, know something about the MVA—minimum viable audience—that they can teach you.

Right Brain Marketing Moxie: There were laminated cards there this time—a definite upgrade since my last visit. Everyone knows when something is laminated both legit and special, right?! The card outlined the packages and I immediately chose Package #5, the best one available. It required a bit more time listening to my favorite playlist on Spotify and sitting in the massage chair even longer as my feet and legs were massaged with literal orange slices, but it was worth ever minute…and penny. Plus, when you spend that much time in a massage chair, you get to witness a lot of people-watching. Although it’s one of the best elements of the experience, that part is free of charge! And I can tell you for sure, an hour or two at the salon will prove that there’s some definite right brain moxie being delivered by the providers—but requested by the customers. Oh, yeah, by the way, many of their customers are your donors…just FYI.

Therefore, I hereby prescribe you all a mandatory manicure and pedicure at the salon of your choice to experience for yourself (a) a bit of self-care and (b) how logical left brain marketing with a dash or right brain moxie is integrated into many businesses—it’s not that unusual. Feel free to call it research, if needed.

So let's do this, shall we? After all, you’re only helpless while your nail polish is drying; after that, all bets are off!

Left Brain Marketing Moxie: We’ve all heard it before, you know that misnomer about our orgs being ‘the best kept secret’. But Seth Godin’s wisdom on finding your MVA—Minimum Viable Audience—is a great retort to the ‘best kept secret’ commentary. I’m sure this little nail salon in the strip mall next to the Tire Barn once thought that everyone should know about them, too, so they would increase their clientele and, ultimately, their bottom line. That’s why they started small with recycled massage chairs and a wonky walk-in service option. They needed to get up and running quickly and on a budget. They had a talented staff and being able to come without an appointment made it easy for any rando to just drive-by and get the instant gratification that a mani/pedi can bring sans appointment. However, with that business model, there were people everywhere, the waiting room was full, and their staff was hoppin’.  I bet they were exhausted when they went home each night. Although the massage chairs worked nicely, it wasn’t really about the experience, it was about getting as many people in and out of their shop as fast as possible to make room for the next guy.

But things have changed since that salon first opened and I was all about it. That same salon was a far different place than when it first opened. Although I didn’t ask them why things changed, I liked the upgrades and the custom attention. It made my experience much more enjoyable. I was there longer than I had planned to be and really felt I got my money’s worth. I even tipped a bit more than normal because I felt like I got the Queen’s Package. Formerly, I got the Pauper Package when it was a chaotic come-one-come-all cuticle cattle drive. Both times my nails got done but the result was far different. It was like the classic ham and eggs breakfast; wherein the chicken was involved, but the pig was committed. If given the choice, do you want your donors involved or do you want them committed?

While this salon will take walk-in’s occasionally, they run off a ‘by appointment’ model now—quelling the pandemonium. They’re ready for you when you get there and they’re trying to sell people that ultimate #5 Package! The chairs were full, but the waiting room wasn’t. Most of the people there were repeat customers, if not regulars like Lynn and Barbara.

Sure, running hundreds of people through there like herding cats is one approach--but not a noteworthy one. I like that they were catering an experience just for me. One that I would appreciate, tell others about, and come back and enjoy again next month. And I will. By concentrating on providing a product and a service that hooks their ideal customer, they build customer loyalty. And customer loyalty like that means consistent, dedicated income. And consistent, dedicated income equated to brand, spankin’ new massage chairs, a fresh coat of paint, and new spa-like décor that all made my experience even more enjoyable. No waiting in lines. No rushing me out as quickly as possible. And no chaos. In the end, this customer is quickly becoming a part of their secondary marketing team. That’s what you need.

Focusing on your MVA and creating an experience that you know they would appreciate (even enjoy) gets your donors talking to their friends, family, and colleagues…about you! So, the next time someone says you’re the best kept secret in town, encourage them to introduce you to the person that they thought should know you but didn’t. Then determine what donor segment they should be in so you can create a customized donor experience for them that turns that one-time stranger into a member of your secondary marketing department. And then use some of your right brain moxie to develop donor loyalty that will keep them coming back to you as their charity of choice. If it can work for nail salon, it can work for you.

Right Brain Marketing Moxie: Do it scared. That’s what my Leadership Coach tells me is often required with anything new. Sure, doing it confidently is great. Doing it prepared is nice as well. Doing it with certainty is likely pretty easy. But doing it scared—that’s not for the faint of heart. And for many of you reading, adding right brain marketing moxie to your left brain marketing methods isn’t something you’ve done, or are encouraged to do, much, if at all. After all, we’re in a serious business. There are systemic issues that we’re tackling. There are serious problems in our communities that require nonprofit intervention, sometimes to save lives and other times to improve the overall quality of life. Serious problems oftentimes lead to serious messages—and there’s nothing wrong with that. BUT some of your donors might have been at a nail salon last week selecting two nail colors to match her graduating son’s school colors or a cheerleading coach requesting some custom nail-art because everyone loves a daisy on their big toe in the throes of summer, right? Maybe Lynn wanted her classic French-tip nails done with an alternating red and blue so she’ll be ready for 4th of July. And it’s no surprise that Barbara just needed a ‘fill’ done on her acrylic nails because the design she got is more of a work of art than just 10 fingers and 10 toes. So, when it comes to adding creativity into your wall-of-words donor direct mail, maybe you’ll have to start out slow and just do it scared.

These self-caring, creative beings use their discretionary money for clever nail designs. And those self-caring creative beings could also use some of their discretionary money to act on your next clever direct mail campaign ask. Because those self-caring, creative beings are also your donors. Donors who often use their discretionary funds for things that bring them joy--which is great because there are statistics out the wazoo that prove time and time again that generosity brings with it a huge hit of happiness and a ginormous jolt of joy.

So, yes, you must make your case with your donors. And there are certainly times when you need to be serious in your mood and your message. And they’ll be more inclined to open your serious mail when your throw in something inspiring and delightful, or even funny messages, in-between.

Because I know one thing for sure—no matter how many logical left brain marketing methods are activated to find your MVA or your IDA (Ideal Donor Avatar), if they don’t open your mail, all that work was for naught.

Your donors are real people. They have demanding jobs and stressful family situations. They probably have clothes in their dryer that never got folded over the weekend and likely even a Tupperware container in the fridge that should have been thrown out a week ago. They. Are. Normal. Human. Beings. Send them messages that you’d like to receive in a way that you’d like to receive them. Then wait and see what happens. The results might surprise you. It feels a little bit like getting that mani/pedi and not smudging your nails before you even leave the salon. Yeah, that good. Good enough to do it scared.

 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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