July 15, 2008

Partnerships and Brand Loyalty

Perhaps as a provider of services in the nonprofit community, it is impossible to write about all of the recent partnerships and brand loyalty campaigns without portraying a sense of bias. Nonetheless, I will make an attempt and encourage you to reach for that proverbial grain of salt. I am often asked to comment about these changes. The following is my brief attempt to do so.

As a resident of the Minneapolis / St. Paul area, I frequently fly Northwest airlines. Since I often need to work at airports, my membership with the WorldClub lounge more than pays for itself in saved internet costs and accessible work space. This membership also enables me to access Delta and Continental clubs. However, when I am in an airport that only has a Delta club, I am enormously frustrated. I have nothing against Delta. However, their club has a partnership with T-Mobile for internet access. I am required to pay additional for my internet access at the club through this arrangement.

My cell phone company has its own power cords made for the phone. The labeling says to use their brand of power cords. Generally, I find less expensive chargers made by other manufactures. These alternatives provide me with flexibility to plug and play other devices as well. There is no need to buy from the cell phone company when a better option exists.

How often do people use Mozilla instead of Internet Explorer because of features or even just principle? How many people have an Apple iPod even though they have a Windows computer? Do you only go to the dealer for the service on your car? Are all of your golf clubs the same brand?

I believe most people are intelligent when it comes to purchasing the right things for their situation. Whether it is for cost, services, convenience, or the overall best fit, people will set aside blind brand loyalty.

When it comes to your organization, do you exercise the same discernment? Do you choose services that are the best fit for you? Or, do you chose services that are the best fit for your software vendor? Do you build your predictive models to maximize the potential of your own existing data? Or, do you purchase models that seem conveniently interchangeably with the ones your peers purchased.

Among the most valuable contributions of analytics is allowing your data to guide your strategies. In this time of partnerships and brand loyalty campaigns, I only encourage you to exercise discernment. Do what is right for you. Do what is right for your organization. Your data is your most valuable asset. Leverage this asset as your advantage. This data, after all, is a reflection of your donors. When your donors are plugged into your decisions, you will make the right choices.



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