I recently read an article by Sunil Bali on an Italian sandwich shop, which faced with the threat of a Giant Supermarket opening next-door ending up sharply increasing their profit within the period of six months. I believe they attained this contrary result because they offered something of high value to their customers; they had an engaging approach and they remained focused without panicking.
This led me to reflect once more on a telephone call I recently received on behalf of a Charity, which was looking, to raise funds for what I must say is a very good cause. The approach adopted did, however, make me feel very, very uncomfortable.
The Charity in question was offering information on cancer. I provided my details in order to obtain the mentioned information and this led to the above mentioned phone call.
I was asked if I had a few minutes to spare, to which I responded yes. (If talking to them/providing information would be of help to them – why not) I was asked for confirmation of my contact information so that the details could be sent to me. I confirmed the information required. I was then asked how much I know about cancer? That’s a very vague question I responded. The lady proceeded to ask me a few other questions in relation to cancer. To each of my responses she gave me some information. I began to feel as if I was in school being spoken to by a teacher.
She moved on to ask me whether I knew about recent breakthrough and spoke about a specific breakthrough treatment now being trialed. She went on to speak about how they need support. She told me she wanted to tell me about 3 ways in which I could support them. She started talking about a direct debit option. Only half listening to her, I waited for her to finish so that I could inform her that I would consider how I would support them once I had, had the opportunity to review the information sent to me. She pointed out that this level of information would not be included in what was sent to me, as they could not afford it as a charity. I told her I’d look at their website. She asked me if I would commit to making a lower payment by direct debit. I explained to her that I wasn’t saying that I couldn’t help, but I don’t make commitment over the phone/without proper information. I thought this would be the end of it.
The pressure continued as my discomfort and resolve grew. They could only call me this once she said. With the breakthrough they needed immediate help. It was cheaper to process payments over the phone. There was a cooling off period ………
I pointed out that I was beginning to feel as if I was being harassed by a doorstep salesperson. She still continued not recognizing how comfortable I was or how disengaged I’d become. Shortly afterwards the call finally ended to my relief. I had not provided any information and now although somewhat put off I’m waiting for the promised from the Charity to see if and how I will support the charity.
It’s sad because the Charity is doing critical work of high value – I recognized that from the conversation. I was totally disengaged and put off by someone trying to do what virtually amounts to bullying.
All in all it reiterates my thinking that Charities will receive support if they have a worthwhile/valuable course. Critically, however, is to target people that identify with the cause and to ensure that all the people involved with the cause effective serve as ambassadors and communicate with people in a manner that is informative, engaging and compelling.
As with the sandwich shop – the product or service should speak for itself.
P.S. Of possible interest – Conning Towers Ltd.’s Strategy, Skills and Brand Ambassadors programme.
Copyright 2013. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated