Seth takes on ad agencies. In Did I say that?, he says:
The problem is that ad agencies have defined themselves as the people who take the mediocre products and add interesting ads to them, and washed their hands and say, we can't do anything about what the factory brings us.
Yes, that's the problem with ad agencies. (One of them, anyway; see Why advertising is so bad.) It's also the problem with marketing in general, including fundraising, whether agencies are involved or not.
Whether you're agency, in-house, freelance, or whatever -- what do you do when you get the assignment of selling crap? When you have to raise funds for a program that lacks merit, or an offer that's a lame cookie-cutter imitation of everyone else's offer?
You probably do the best job you can -- at selling crap!
I'm guilty of this. And I'm pretty sure you are too. Maybe we lack the leverage with the organization to change the product. Or maybe we haven't really tried.
We need to insist on more. More from ourselves. More from our leaders. The same old mediocre "products" just won't cut it for long with donors, who have more choices, and higher standards, every day.
What makes this hard is that it's not about marketing. It's about what you're really doing in the world. You can change that on a brief or in a brainstorming session. It has to be real. And that can only happen when the entire organization -- from the board on down -- is in complete alignment with the goal of being remarkable and doing uniquely cool things.
Until then, we're selling crap. Donors will start to notice, sooner or later.