Climbing a Ladder to Find Top-Shelf Insight

Climbing a Ladder to Find Top-Shelf Insight

So, your friend tells you to help yourself to anything in their kitchen. Great. You scan the contents of his cupboard at eye-level and grab some moderately appetizing crackers, or you might poke around a little more and find out that the cookies you are craving were hiding on the top shelf out of sight. Qualitative research can be a lot like poking through someone’s kitchen. “Laddering” is a technique that is used to take us to a higher level of insight into a constituent’s values. It is a simple process with profound results. There are three basic steps to follow in standard Laddering. 1.)   Ask about a preferred feature. 2.)   Ask about the benefit of that feature. 3.)   Ask about the benefit of the benefit. Here’s an example from a series of Depth Interviews I facilitated for volunteers of a faith-based organization. Me: What do you like most about the program? Respondent: I like that we see first hand the people we are helping. Me: What is the benefit of seeing this first hand? Respondent: It’s that wonderful transformation that I get to be part of. I tell people often, I just have a front row seat on God’s restoration projects. So, that’s the most rewarding. Me: What is the benefit of this transformation? Respondent: If a man turns his life over to Jesus and decides he wants to walk in the ways of God, that will impact his family. He won’t reoffend. He’ll be a father to his kids. And Lord willing, he’ll get a job. Right now it’s tough. He simply will become the man that...
What are your donors saying when you’re not around?

What are your donors saying when you’re not around?

Do you think your donors don’t talk about how efficiently your non-profit operates?  Stop kidding yourself, they do and unless you are telling them how efficient you are or where to get efficiency ratings (like Charity Navigator) then they are going to hear it from some other source and it just might not be accurate.  We recently conducted focus groups and in-depth interviews for a local non-profit organization in order to develop a fundraising strategy that resonates with donors.  As I sat in the room, behind the glass window, I listened to comments like “my concern about the organization is really the financials of it.  I don’t know what their overhead is and what they spend on salaries.”  And from another donor, “I get things from them all the time whether I give to them or not so I assume everybody else must be getting it too.  That costs money.”  Remember, these are donors, individuals who have given gifts to the organization, not prospects. Are you leaving your donors wondering how you are spending their donations?  Do you wait until once a year when you produce that annual report to explain what percentage of every dollar goes to program and services?  Do you have a Charity Navigator four-star rating but don’t promote it?  Or do you just tell your prospects when you solicit them for the first time how efficient you are?  Take action on this insight by reviewing your communication material and website to be sure you are constantly reminding your donors you are good stewards of their...
Client Retention Matrix

Client Retention Matrix

Everyone knows agency life is hectic. There are so many details to have to keep track of on a day-to-day basis, that it’s no wonder that sometimes we are blindsided when a client decides to fire us. I’d like to share simple tool that you can put into use today. I call it the Client Retention Matrix. And if you dedicate 1-minute a month completing this exercise and record the results, you’ll never get caught by surprise again. On the first of the month, set your outlook calendar to remind you to answer two questions about each of your clients: Are their results great? Do we have a great relationship with them? If your answers are “yes” and “yes” the client is in the green quadrant and that client is going to stay with you. If you answer one question “yes” but the other “no,” that client is in one of the yellow “at risk” quadrants. Better start making plans on how to turn that “no” into a “yes” quick. Finally, if your answers are both no, I’m afraid to tell you that you are going to lose that client. You’d best to start making your “win-back” plans for that client. So make a commitment to yourself to start honestly answering these questions for all your clients every month. It sounds so simple. But sometimes simple is...