Thursday, March 10, 2011


“Put up your hands and give me all your dough!" 

Let’s get rid of that image as we move forward shall we? What non-profit doesn’t need to fund raise to survive? But do we all have to stand with our guns pointed and our hands out or is there a way to give back when we get?   Sure, the non-profit that fights cancer, saves animals, provides culture or feeds the hungry can argue that the services they provide are the “give back”. 

So how’s that attitude working for your fund raising? Are you thriving? Or like most non-profits…and that includes many theatres...are you bemoaning the state of the economy and its affect on your organization?   Are you constantly talking about the problem of fund raising and audience raising and doing the same things that worked for you five years ago or are you coming up with interesting ideas that just might work now? 

This week I had two terrific meetings concerning the theatre.  One was with Zack, my new web tech guy.  Great graphic artist talent but more importantly he has a great attitude.  He wants to learn whatever I can teach him (I loaned him my Seth Godin book, “Tribes” and the study Steppenwolf did on new marketing to the Milleniums as his first bit of homework.)  He’s also playing around with a website idea because I took him through the marketing plan and the ideas I had specifically for the interactive website.

Yes, before we have an actual theatre, a donor list, a season picked out or the non-profit founded, we are going to have a website that caters to the tribe that supports our mission. You are the start of that by the way. Following our progress and recommending others to do the same. Do you feel like you are becoming a part of our theatre solution?  From the emails I have gotten from many of you, you are having a good time keeping up with it. Feel free to add to our tribe with recommendations to the blog.

The second meeting was with two business contacts that the amazing Debbie set up.  If you are looking for a great commercial real estate agent, I am now her best PR agent, and she is mine!  Deb is what we call a “sneezer” in viral marketing terms. She’s connected, she cares, she is really great at what she does, and she is completely fearless when it comes to speaking with everyone who crosses her path and would be a good person to connect to us. I would like ten more of her. Debbie Peidra at Sabre Realty Group.

As we were sitting at lunch with Deena and Keyan (two people she wanted me to meet) I realized that between the three of them they knew everyone is Stamford.  Again, I went through the marketing ideas and tried hard to take notes as they shot out names and places that would help us.

I always make sure that I walk away knowing what the “next steps” are and Debbie is trying to set up meetings with the next “influential” folks who I will tell you about once it happens.  

Recap:  We added three like-minded people to our tribe this week.  Before we hit crunch time. Before we have to stand with our hands out.  My thoughts are that if you can involve people in the “making of” you might just find that fund raising and audience raising are already in place.  The “give back” isn’t just the good feeling you get from helping us do important work, it’s as intrinsic to you as supporting something you help to build. Finding the “sneezers” is an important first step in new marketing.

And here is a novel thought, the tribe doesn’t have to include everyone.  Just the folks that are like-minded. Deena is like-minded. Keyan sees the big picture.  Zack "gets" it.

Deena invited us to the town meeting at the end of this month where the Reinventing Stamford folks will be gathering. Including the new mayor, whose wife happens to be a dancer, likes dancing, supports dance?  Deena and Deb know everything about everyone. Little tidbits like that are useful. 

Before I hit the highway Deena had sent an email introduction to me and Marc, another great contact with whom I am going to brainstorm.  She said: “You both have a business with a Blue Ocean Strategy” I didn’t know what that was so if you aren't familiar with the concept:

 Key points I loved were:

*The aim of Blue Ocean Strategy is not to out-perform the competition in the existing industry, but to create new market space or a blue ocean, thereby making the competition irrelevant.

*The three key conceptual building blocks of BOS are: value innovation, tipping point leadership, and fair process.

*While competitive strategy is a structuralist theory of strategy where structure shapes strategy, BOS is a reconstructionist theory of strategy where strategy shapes structure.

I’ve already got ideas of how to get some blue ocean dialogues started with the next important people.

I think this might be how it works, folks.  Blue ocean-minded folks might be able to wash over that outstretched hand image and come up with interesting solutions. 

Must be because I am a water sign.

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