What is a Transformational Economy, and How Can it Help a Nonprofit, Interview with Mark S.A. Smith, Grant Writing Simplified with Teresa Huff, Episode 134

What is a Transformational Economy, and How Can it Help a Nonprofit? [Episode 134]

“You can't sell transformation with features, advantages, and benefits. A person will not understand until they have been through the experience. The way that we do that is by telling a story of somebody who has been through the transformation. You have to tell it as a hero's journey.”

The collective values and priorities of a society change with each generation. We express our values with our time and money, so those values then drive the economy through the demand for relevant products and services. With each economic shift, the value proposition and marketing methods adapt to the current priorities to provide the most perceived value.

As a nonprofit, you want to be on the peak of the value curve. During our discussion, Mark provided a journey of economic shifts through the history of America to help us understand where we are today and how nonprofits can take advantage of the current transformational economy to engage supporters.

Join us for a journey through history to discover how you can help your nonprofit grow using assets you already have on hand.

What is the Transformational Economy?

Civilizations start as tribes in the subsistence economy, where we get enough to meet our needs and live. The goal is to say, “I’m alive.”

As tribes settle, we move to the commodity economy where we harvest commodities such as crops, wood, and mining to buy and trade. The goal is to say, “I’m productive.”

As the value of commodities increases, people move into the product economy where we buy labor savings. So instead of making your own products, we buy products someone else made. The goal is to say, “I’m efficient.” In the United States, we shifted to the product economy during the Industrial Revolution.

As the need for products is met, we shift to the service economy where we free up time by paying for services we previously did on our own. The goal is to say, “I’m a free person.” In the United States, this shift occurred during World War II, when families needed to buy time.

Then we moved to the experience economy, where people wanted more than a service—they wanted a memorable service. People want interesting stories to tell because the goal in an experience economy is to say, “I’m interesting.” In the United States, this shift happened in the 1990s with the emergence of social media, Netflix, Google, and Yelp.

Now, we are living in a transformational economy, where people want more than interesting memories. They want authentic, meaningful experiences to make things better, whether it’s improving themselves, their workplace, their family, their community, or the world. The goal is to say, “I’m a better person.”

This is what people are craving and paying for today, so rapidly growing companies are providing an opportunity for their customers to be better people through their products and services.

How the Transformational Economy Can Help a Nonprofit

The marketing efforts of nonprofits have operated on a service economy mindset, where we focus our recruitment messaging on the services we provide. But since we are in the business of transformation, it should feel natural to embrace the shift and showcase how a contributor makes the world a better place by supporting our cause.

However, amid this shift, nonprofit organizations face a larger struggle to be heard through the noise with minimal marketing dollars. So how does a nonprofit get and sustain supporters’ attention long enough to appeal to their sense of purpose?

The Power of Story to Embrace the Transformational Economy

The most powerful and entertaining way to showcase transformation is through storytelling.

Mark explained, “You can’t sell transformation with features, advantages, and benefits. A person will not understand until they have been through the experience. How we do that is by telling a story of somebody who has been through the transformation. You have to tell it as a hero’s journey.”

Start by talking to and interviewing those who have been through your programs. Ask questions such as, “How have we made a difference in your life? How are you better because of the work we did together? What would have been like if you hadn’t had the experience you had with us? Where would you be today?

Stories are relatable and compelling. Tease out the story of the transformation so your audience will get hooked to learn how it turns out and they’ll want to become part of the story of your organization.

Challenge Question:

What is a recent initiative you can search for stories of transformation?

Meet Mark S A Smith:

After a successful career in helping to bring to market billions of dollars of disruptive technology, Mark S A Smith now works with Visionmakers to turn market challengers into market leaders. He works with C-Suite leaders determined to transform their business from a market challenger into the market leader in 3 years or less.

This is exemplified in his two new books, The Nimble C-Suite: How to Align the Diverse Strengths of Your Executive Team to Predictably Deliver Extraordinary Results in a Transformational Economy, and The Nimble Company: A Proactive, Socially Responsible Framework for Driving Sustained Profits and Growth in a Chronically Chaotic World.

Co-founder of NimbilityWorks, a consulting firm dedicated to helping leaders embrace Nimbility, he brings his broad leadership perspective, extensive business models, professional speaking capacity, and tightly-honed coaching skills to leaders who desire to lead transformational businesses and teams that make a difference.

Connect with Mark S A Smith:

Other Resources Mentioned:

Free Audit: How Grant-Ready Is Your Nonprofit?

If you need support in your journey to excellence as a grant writer, I’d like to invite you to join me on the Fast Track to Grant Writer. Go to teresahuff.com/vip and start learning today.

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Grant Writer? Take the Quiz:

If you’re ready to explore a career in grant writing, take my free quiz, “Do you have what it takes to be a grant writer?” People are always surprised at how many skills they already have. The distance isn’t as far as they thought. Let’s figure out how you can use your skills to help change your world.

If you’re ready to step up your nonprofit game, join me on the Fast Track to Grant Writer. The world needs you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *