The following is by Mailers Hub contributor Ron Rescigno, of Rescigno’s Marketing Connections, Bridgeview, IL:
In my first blog in this space back in early July, I explained how Rescigno’s transitioned from traditional service offerings for nonprofit organizations to open new business services which not only allowed us to survive the recession of a few years ago, but to thrive as thought leaders for those who rely on print and mail to communicate with their audiences.
Today, a little detail on how we did it (and how you can too).
Becoming a thought leader means you will get paid (and well!) for what you know… not necessarily for what you do. That’s right! You may not get the printing or the mailing work, but you’ll get something even better – paid to share your ideas with your clients. Of course, often you will also do the fulfillment end. Today, we at Rescigno’s consider that to be the whipped cream and cherry on top of the sundae.
Speaking from a nonprofit perspective, because that’s our corner of the world, the hard part is figuring out what you need to learn about your clients’ needs (what their looking for help with, above and beyond print and mail) and position yourself in such a way that they’ll pay you for your expertise, as well as for what you print and mail for them.
Right now, let me guess, unless you’re printing and mailing something for a client, no money is coming through the door.
Imagine this scenario: A client hires you to guide them regarding what they should be saying to their donors and non-donors in their newsletter or annual report or fall donor appeal. No ink on paper (they already have a vendor for that), no #3 bags to load into a truck to lug to the post office either. The time-intensive stuff, right?
Getting paid to consult means that you have to put in the work. So I wonder, do you have what it takes to become a subject matter expert? Are you willing to go back to school? Not real school where you sit in a classroom and take classes.
I’ll bet if you put your mind to it you know a lot about “stuff” that you’ve never even thought about charging for.
Here’s just one example of what I’m talking about. True story: Rescigno’s has a client here in the suburbs of Chicago that we’ve just signed on to do consulting for… not print and not mail, just consulting. Here’s what they rely on us for:
- Copy editing (not letter writing, just editing their letter so it’s in proper fundraising language). I learned this skill over time and you can to.
- How to use variable data to segment to different audiences – no problem, right?
- The elements that should go into a welcome packet and how to implement a loyalty program.
- Speaking to their board of directors on their fundraising responsibilities.
The list of things that you can get paid for as a nonprofit thought leader goes on and on.
When you form this sort of a relationship with a client, you won’t be viewed as simply “a vendor.” Rather, you will walk into a room where you are considered an equal, a trusted partner, someone whose value far exceeds print and mail.
Unintended Bonus!! After you’ve signed that contract to do consulting, one day you get a surprise call and it’s the client. The vendor who does their printing really doesn’t know how to do variable printing or layering after all.
“Can Rescigno’s do it?” asks the frenzied client.
“Of course we can! We’ll simply adjust the contract and have you initial the printing and mailing we’ll be doing for you.”
Ten years ago, I never dreamed a time would come when print and mail would become our “value added.”
I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried, but failed to position yourself as a thought leader? Have you succeeded? Let me know.