The ALS Challenge

There has been a great deal of interest in the ALS Challenge, in large part due to the presence of social media and the ability to quickly share information about a dreaded disease in need of funding. I applaud the efforts and think it is wonderful that donations in the millions of dollars are pouring in to support ALS research.

I also find this as a teachable moment. We can see the power of social media and how we can generate a very large amount of attention by getting the attention of just one person, who in turn, shares and includes others. Social media is a real force and the use of video is something I strongly encourage my people to be involved with. Clearly video communication is a very powerful tool in generating awareness.

As a business coach I have shared with my clients the power of video and how quickly social media can move that image to hundreds, thousands, and even millions of views. The impressions are powerful. The question is this, what is the focus and the ultimate purpose of the use of video? With the ALS Challenge, the focus is about creating awareness and raising money. The use of ice buckets and the dumping of cold water on people is exactly the shock value needed to grab attention so people will stop for a moment and focus on what is going on before them. As they say in marketing, once you have their attention you can sell your message, but you have to first get their attention. So in this regard, it is going well.

The other key issue here is that the goal is to raise money. The challenge calls for a $10 donation if you dump the water and have it on video and shared, or to write a check for $100 if you don’t. For me, I had to look at this from a personal as well as a coaching stand point. Could I create a video so outrageous that is would cause others to issue and complete the challenge, or would I be better serving the challenge by donating money and finding a way to make this a teachable moment for my clients, and appeal to them to choose making the larger donation? You see, $10 donations are nice, but $100 and larger donations get us closer to the ultimate goal, which is raising money to find the cure.

So I chose to look at it from a pure business perspective and thought I would share that with all of you. The time it would take to create the video and execute the challenge would be more than thirty to forty-five minutes of my time and ALS would get my video shared and a $10 donation. Or, I could use my time to work and share that reward in the form of this blog post and a donation equal to the time value of the task. So I figured I would make a $250 donation to ALS via and write the blog. This way I can inspire those that read the blog to contribute what they can in the best way possible, for them.

You have to remember, it’s about awareness AND raising money. Just like when you market to people, if you get their attention and don’t tell them what to do, you lose the very reason you were marketing in the first place. Here is where the teaching part comes in. You have to look at the big picture and see if what you are about to do meets the intended goal. Making a great video with water being dumped by a bucket loader, or shot from a fire hose, or 4,000 gallons from the back of a cement mixer are all attention getting, but they must lead to the donation of money or it was just a funny video on the internet!

In our business lives, how many times do we do this? Get in front of a Realtor® and ask for business but don’t provide for dual opportunities?  How many times do we talk to a customer and fail to follow up with them promptly? Why is it we seek out homebuyers and renters, yet fail to contact listings and sellers? How often do we get ourselves in front of opportunity and fail to follow up and follow through? Why is it we go through the process doing a great job for our clients and referral partners and fail to go to the closing or thank those involved for helping make it a great transaction? How is it possible that we close loans and fail to nurture those closed clients with value so that they keep us in mind and come back to us or refer us to friends and relatives?

Ultimately both things need to be done in the ALS challenge; crazy videos posted to show people going through the process of getting water dumped on them, and getting people to donate money. Just like in the mortgage business we need to be visible and in front of people to generate opportunities to close loans, but we also need to make it a great experience for everyone involved while nurturing all the relationships with value to promote other opportunities.

So dump the water and share the video or write the big check. As long as you are focused on ALL the elements the momentum continues. Challenges lead to videos and small checks, or awareness and big checks. Both are needed, make your choice! And yes, I call out Steve Jacobson, Tom Ward, and Dave Savage to write the big check!

Don’t forget that this is a holiday weekend and to be prepared for the holiday schedule. If you are working, then let people know you are available today and tomorrow, and then get out and visit people Saturday, Sunday, and Monday! If you are NOT working, be sure you call all your referral partners and be sure you have already talked to everyone they plan on showing homes to this weekend.

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