Can flashy marketing hold a candle to candlelight marketing?

We're no longer cavemen, but still, "fire good!"

We're no cavemen, but still, "fire good!"

Yes; I made up the term “candlelight marketing.”

I needed something to represent marketing that, while enlightening and illuminating, avoids the newest bright and flashy gimmicks and trends. Jeff Brooks penned a post on the Donor Power Blog today highlighting some evidence that as individuals age, they’re less susceptible to trends and newfangled fancy-schmancies as the brain’s reward system is “dialed down.” The inspiration for Brook’s post comes from the Neuromarketing blog in the post “Marketing to the Senior Brain.” Brooks writes:

That’s why older people are less susceptible to fads and shiny new things — and instead tend to prefer trusted, well-known things. (Less gullible is another way to look at it.)

In the nonprofit industry, a significant portion – often the majority – of our donors are seniors. Understanding the psychology of this demographic is crucial to developing communication strategies that will have the most impact.  We should focus on integrity, honesty, and familiarity more than trendy designs or flashy displays. Not that we should be boring or stuck in a rut. Far from it! We ALL crave new experiences that escape the status quo.

How does this translate to events? For starters, you should probably cancel that order of LED-lighted ice cubes if your core group of attendees are any older than 30 – scratch that, let’s say older than 13. Put more effort into the story-telling and the quality of the experience. By all means, make use of helpful technology, like projecting a short documentary that brings your organization’s mission to life. But you don’t need to expend valuable resources to party like it’s 2050 when your guests might be just as happy partying like it’s 2008, or 1968, or 1948…

This is not to say you shouldn’t embrace new ideas and techniques, like using online social media and Web 2.0. Nor should you ignore the next generation and what attracts them. Like I said, it’s all about understanding your audience and communicating in a relevant way.

Moral of the story: invest in quality and don’t shirk traditional techniques just because they’re traditional. There’s a reason candlelight stuck around long after the invention of the lightbulb. We all like it!

Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Love the term, Emily! I think it’s a great description.


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