Consumer Insights and Non-Profits – Applies to For-Profits

I just read a great article by Nancy Lublin in the July/August edition of Fast Company, “Get What You Want for Nothing” (

In the article, Nancy contrasts a conglomerate communications firm who’s having trouble dealing with a client’s budget cuts with the situations faced by non-profits and rightly argues that businesses today could be a lot more successful if they acted more like a non-profit.

She shares the story of Zainab Salib founder and CEO of Women for Women International and her three-step process for raising money when you offer nothing in return. Her process works for selling products and services as well.

One, make your product, your cause, or your service compelling. Get people emotionally connected and they’ll be more likely to buy, use, provide feedback, provide word-of-mouth advertising (a.k.a., referrals) and buy again.

Two, tell a great story about your product. People won’t remember features and benefits nearly as much as they’ll remember a good story.

Third, be specific about what you are asking for and what you will achieve by making a specific contribution or buying a specific product or service.

Nancy then proceeds to tell the story of Charles Best, the founder of Charles reiterates the importance of expressing thanks, kindness and gratitude. I’ve said before you can never thank customers enough and Charles exemplifies that thought.

DonorsChoose is a clearinghouse for donation requests from individual teachers in underfunded public schools. Featured products have a specific ask and donors can search the site for projects they are most interested in funding.

Once someone has made a contribution, he requires teachers to take pictures of the projects the donation enabled. Staff then sends the pictures along with thank you notes from the students to the donor. These “thank you’s” serve to create or strengthen the emotional bond between the donor and the cause.

Think your business can learn something from a non-profit?


About Chipotle for Life

An integrated marketing professional who generates insights from analytics to increase revenue. My blog for marketing now resides at After getting requests from a number of people about my eating and exercise routine, I've decided to begin sharing about my healthy obsession with Chipotle and exercise.
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