THE ART OF FAN-RAISING: Treating Fans Like Donors By Kevin K. Shah

Become well-versed in your field in terms of information, publications and resources that would be useful to the prospective Fan – and share.

Cut out all short-term thinking including the hard-sell approach. Instead, focus on developing a relationship with the Fan: (e.g. learning about them without asking for anything initially).

Change “Marketing” tactics to “Communication” concepts and make this communication with Fans a dialogue rather than a monologue. No one likes being sold to, and there’s no better way to approach our Fans.

Be unique in your proposition. They’ve heard almost everything before. What is unique about your idea? Highlight it and go from there.

Give Fans genuinely interesting and worthwhile opportunities. Make them active participants. Invite them to see you work, to be more than just ‘participants’ of your cause.

Invite Fans to ask questions and make it easy for them submit. A dissatisfied customer that doesn’t complain to you — will tell several others his thoughts about you and will no longer be a Fan. Go to great lengths to solicit feedback.

Focus on the major motivations of Fans and above all — give Fans choice in what they buy based on these motivations.

Eight primary reasons by why Fans GIVE to you. To be recognized and valued for my contribution. To feel good about giving. To know how my money will be used and what difference it will make. Desire to be inspired. To feel involved, a part of something. To be impressed so I can tell others, recruit them to support. To be asked for my opinion. Desire to know you are listening to me.

Make sure Fan emails are addressed to an actual person — and not a mass email list or a general greeting. Yes, it takes time. Always write personal thank you’s to all Fans/buyers.

CRM – Customer Relations Management. What is your strategy?

3 devastating words for Fans or prospective buyers: Changed My Mind. What are you doing to prevent this (you can’t always prevent it)?

Have “packages/offerings” available for “Regularly Giving” Fans, “High-Value Fans”, and ‘Legacy’ products — for ‘lifetime fans’ that want to contribute more over time.

Make sure that any ‘copy’ you write seeking anything — is emotional. Hearken back to a memory, make it poetic and accessible, use descriptive words that stick – and make it personal.

Step into the shoes of the Fan is perhaps the most important thing we can do on a daily basis. Take this mental shift and see what you’re thinking from a Fan’s perspective.

3 sentences of wisdom: a. When a customer buys a hammer & nail – what he really wants could be to hang a picture. What is the greater need? b. It doesn’t matter what you sell – the only thing that matters is what Fans want to buy. c. People don’t read advertisements, they read what interests them. Sometimes, this includes an ad.

Building a Fan community is about meeting needs and interacting — and not about celebrating achievements. Always state any achievements with a continued need. And the best time to recognize and state a need: while celebrating an achievement.

If you have a proposition you want to make then be as direct and impacting as possible: Fund an Art Film: $20.00.

The story you have to tell best — and the one to ‘practice’ until perfect — is the pitch/story of your organization’s core mission — why it was created and what it does.

If you can become facilitators of your supporter’s relationships to each other — you will survive. Find a way to connect everyone that is your Fan — and you will grow.

On average, people are exposed to a thousand promotional messages or advertisements a day. Don’t be promotional, be pertinent.

There are 3 R’s in Loyalty: Retention, Repeat Business, Referrals.

Let Fans know you received their information / money in a nice thank-you to their name shortly after. Also assure their gift (if a donation) will be used for the specific purpose they requested or tell them what you will do with their gift. Show progress.

Smile and Dial when picking up the phone with a Fan. Always.

Understanding Fans: Understand their Passion and their Inspiration. Seek first to understand — then be understood. Open hearts, open minds, and then if appropriate ask them to open their checkbooks. First and foremost, relationships should be lifelong and develop over time.

Footnote: Credit is due. A great deal of the above was inspired by what I was reading in Ken Burnett’s book “The Zen of Fundraising” which is an excellent book for anyone wishing to venture into fundraising (whether it’s for a feature film or a non-profit). It’s a very simple and quick read, and as I was devouring it, I discovered that in certain areas Ken’s keen advice on how manage relationships with donors could just as easily apply to fans of Independent Filmmakers. With this in mind I scribbled down notes in the margins as I was reading. A great deal of this list was born out of Ken’s book filtered through the considerations we’re currently having as we re-design the web experience for The Sabi Company (with our fans in mind.) Buy Ken’s book:

As I just finished a solid first draft of A Falling Rock – a thriller by SABI (my latest screenplay) I was surprised when I realized (after thinking back) just how many feature scripts I’ve written over the years. This led to an article I called “The No-Discipline Screenwriter (Almost)” written for The Script Lab — which is a very useful resource for new and upcoming writers with several topics around screenwriting. They tweeted “Writing is a Lifestyle, not a Diet” not too long after my post, which is certainly valid for writers of all kinds & I totally agree. For my circumstance, I would amend it to ‘Storytelling is a lifestyle, not a Diet’ to make room for directors and producers (or all 3) as well. The full article I wrote called “The No-Discipline Screenwriter” can be found here, and it’s not really screenwriting on a diet, but it is a very unconventional approach to an art which does certainly require discipline.

THE NO-DISCIPLINE SCREENWRITER (ALMOST) – Ideas on how to write & finish your screenplay when you have almost no discipline.

Re: No-Discipline — I have offered the caveat: *I should preface the above with the notion that ‘discipline’ of some degree is needed when writing an outline and a script. Even if it was one word every 2 months, writing that one word, thought or idea down – would still require the slightest discipline. (i.e. there is no such thing as a no-discipline screenwriter…;)

Somehow, one way or another — one must continue pushing forward. Below is just a quick roll call of the feature film scripts I’ve written over the years: including genre & collaborators, some with discipline — some without. If you have a list, I’d be interested in seeing yours too. I’m proud of them all except for Call it a Night which was grossly underdeveloped. A Sort of Homecoming won the Institute of Mental Health Initiatives Scholarship at USC, and Lone Tree Hill got me honors and a Master’s Degree from there and a film I would love to make if I had around 60 Million… Richard, Patrick and Peter are all terrific writers that I met in the Graduate Screenwriting Program and our collaborations yielded highly original stories. Snowblind, written with Zak Forsman was my first feature screenplay — which we adapted from an incredible book by Robert Sabbag with the same name.

A Falling Rock – Thriller White Knuckles – Psychological Drama Chasing Tail – Action/Adventure – with Richard Shepherd Cheryl, Otis & Guy – Comedy – with Patrick Meighan Shadows – Drama – with Peter Murray Lone Tree Hill – Period Survival story A Sort of Homecoming – Family Drama Call it a Night – College Dramedy Snowblind – Smuggler, Action/Drama – with Zak Forsman