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The Best Advice You've Probably Forgotten: Post #1

The Plenty Team
October 28, 2015

What is the lifespan of advice? Does it have one? I like to think that the best advice transcends time and impacts us throughout our entire lives – think the “Golden Rule”; “look both ways before crossing the street”; “don’t eat yellow snow”; etc.

However, the pragmatist in me recognizes that while almost all advice derives from good intentions it often gets buried beneath the clutter of our daily tasks and ultimately forgotten. We intend on remembering and acting on the guidance given to us, usually with much vigor early on, but as time passes we forget the gems of insight that were shared and return to our habits.

With this thought in mind I am taking a look through our ever-growing archive of past blogs and surfacing the posts that were hopefully not, but most likely, long forgotten since publishing. Not surprisingly there were great posts lurking in our library that even I had forgotten about. (Seriously, take a look at all of them here.) There were so many great topics to choose from in fact, that I will be sharing them with you over the next couple of weeks. So sit back, relax, and get ready to dust off the best advice you’ve probably forgotten.

Post #1: Harness the Power of Design

the-best-advice-youve-probably-forgotten-post.jpgSeven…Six…Five…Four…Three…Two…One. That’s it, times up.

Seven seconds is exactly how long your brand has to capture the attention of your audience. This is a seemingly impossible amount of time, right? How can you be expected to draw someone in so fast? My guess is your mission alone takes longer than seven seconds to explain (although, it really shouldn’t). The answer is simple, both figuratively and literally.

Captivating your audience, differentiating your brand, sharing your cause, and ultimately driving donations online all boils down to one thing – design.

Now, before you close this window and get back to your inbox because design doesn’t feel relevant to your goals, hear me out. Design encompasses many different aspects of marketing, anything from user experience, to online ads, to packaging. I find it is best described by Adam Swann as a “broad and deliberately applied discipline, with the aim of creating simpler, more meaningful, rewarding experiences.” And while the content you develop is important, and your cause worthy of expanded explanation, it is no longer a viable way of communicating. The days of wordy emails and bland mailers are over. Let’s face it, attention spans are limited and expectations of brands are high. Design can no longer be an after thought; it should be a driving-force behind your campaigns and frankly, your entire marketing strategy.

Still not convinced? Design is the reason you left that item in your online shopping cart after the checkout process became too complicated. It is the reason you clicked the button above the fold on a webpage, as opposed to the one below it. It is the reason you most likely shop with companies like Amazon and Apple, who integrate intuitive design into every aspect of their business, and in return, watch their customer loyalty and revenue grow at astonishing rates. 

Yes, these are corporate behemoths, but don’t begin to think that clever and impactful design is out of your grasp. You have one thing on your side that these companies don’t: a powerful mission that speaks to the emotions of your audience. Start using simple, visually stimulating marketing materials to tell your story. Cut back on excess text, invest in good photography that is captivating and resonates with your audience, and consider the medium and ease at which your audience is interacting with your brand and messaging. Make their experience with your brand memorable and uncomplicated.

You may have the most worthy mission in the world; the most inspiring messaging in the sector; and the most creative campaign in your cause space – but it doesn’t matter if you aren’t delivering it in a clear, appealing, and compelling manner.

Here are a few recommended resources to help you harness design and take your campaigns to the next level:

You don’t have to be a designer or web developer to understand the importance of design, and you definitely don’t have to be the one coding and creating your online collateral to appreciate the impact it has on your goals. But you should understand how design impacts the donations you receive on your site, the clicks you get on your Facebook ads, and the registration submissions you collect for your events. 

You don’t need to tackle the complex world of user experience and design at once. Slowly begin to incorporate the concepts into your decision making process. Before sending out any type of communication, think to yourself: Would I read this? Would this compel me to click-through, or donate, or take any type of action?

Most importantly, does it tell your story in seven seconds or less?

Design your website, campaigns, and events for people. Download our webinar "The Next Step in P2P Fundraising: Design for People" and learn how to increase engagement and fundraising by developing programs that reflect your constituents’ wants and interests. Download the recording below!

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