Family Pride was a small (under $500,000 annual budget) non-profit committed to advancing legal protections and equality for LGBT headed families. It was comprised of an extraordinarily hard-working staff and a dedicated board of directors, with a loyal and generous cadre of supporting families.
Their signature event, Family Week in Provincetown, brought together about 2,000 people from across the country for a week of education and festivities, where parents could swap stories about raising children, learn about legal strategies to make sure their families were protected, and kids could play and talk about their two moms or two dads, and not have to explain anything.
From my perspective, Volvo was about keeping families safe, just like Family Pride. I wanted to talk with the top executive in North America, so I did some detective work and got his phone number.
I called, and he answered.
Lesson One: If you’re committed to getting through to “the man” or “the woman” – you can.
At the outset, I told him why I believed our two organizations were meant for each other. No sales pitch, just sharing why I thought it was a match and how their support could help us make a difference in the lives of thousands of families.
Not only did he concur, he told me that he had been looking for ways to increase Volvo’s presence in the LGBT community, and Family Week sounded like the perfect opportunity. He connected me to the folks who would be my primary contacts for the deal, and we hung up. The call lasted all of five minutes.
Lesson Two: Brief is better. Think about condensing everything you want to say into a five-minute block. It will force you to get rid of extraneous information.
The last night of Family Week, we held a fish fry at one of the local restaurants overlooking a beach. The Volvo executives were there. After dinner, we walked outside along the shore, where kids were building sandcastles and playing games. Dogs romped in the water. I said to the executives that if they really wanted to know what the work of Family Pride was all about, we were looking at it. They signed on to a four-year deal on the spot.
Lesson Three: Brand is emotional and experiential. It’s always better to demonstrate than to explain.
That was over 20 years ago, and those three guiding principles have served me well for two decades.
You can get through to the decision maker. Brief is better. Brand is emotional and experiential. It actually is that easy.