#36 Want more money? It's all about positioning

Me visiting the door of my old classroom in 2017

I’ve recently been talking to a wide variety of prospective clients, from foundations to startup nonprofits to established social enterprises. After almost four years of consulting and coaching in social impact, I realize that most of my clients come to me because of one thing: they want more money.

I mean who doesn’t? More money means more impact, and also sustainability and predictability.

And the biggest barrier I see to getting more revenue?

My clients come to me saying they’re essentially selling their impact - to either funders or customers.

“We help K12 students do _______”

““We transform lives for __________”

“We are committed to increasing _______ for ______”

The problem is nobody wants to buy your impact. I don’t buy a toaster because someone tells me “this is a really awesome toaster.” I buy it because I want toast. Maybe I want the thing that makes my toast to look a certain way, or come from a certain store, or fit in a certain space in my kitchen.

The difference here is subtle, but crucial (for more on this difference, research Clayton Christensen’s Jobs to be Done framework. It’s what I use to create differentiation and positioning via value propositions for both myself and all my clients).

Your customers and funders aren’t going to write checks for your impact. They are going to write checks for the benefits they get being part of your impact.

Your positioning – for them – should be about what they get to be part of, not what you do.

Again, subtle. But here are a couple examples.

Recently, I worked with an ed tech company that sold to schools.

When we first starting together, the headline on their website said something like:

“We build family engagement software that translates to X# of languages”

Now it says: “We empower communities and drive student achievement through increased family engagement.”

Do schools (customers) want to be part of that? Absolutely.

Another example: A nonprofit client’s outreach to funders used to say something like “we strive to increase gender equity in tech. Donate today.”

That messaging was getting crickets.

We changed the language to “You can lead the change. Have a seat at the table in closing the gender gap in local tech startups by joining our founder’s circle today for $5000.”

The open rates on emails went up. The response rate to phone calls went up. And best of all, donations went up.

So if you want your money to grow? Tell your customers and funders what’s in it for them, and position your outreach in 2nd person - it’s about them, not you. It’s the single easiest, and most effective, change you can make to your messaging today.

Psst - if you don’t know what appeals to your customers or funders about what you offer, ask them. Customer insights and testing of your messaging and value props is going to pay off in spades. I promise!

Business StrategyHannah Gay