Friday, January 19, 2007

Convio Buys GetActive (and Kintera sends out an e-mail)

I've rarely ranted on this blog, but I'm feeling it today so bear with me.

A few disclaimers...
  1. I made a decision to go with Kintera over Convio for both the Light the Night CMS (good decision) and for LLS advocacy (shaky decision).
  2. I've inherited GetActive here at The International Rescue Committee. GA is our current CMS, email and Advocacy platform. They fired Kintera before going with GA.
  3. If you are a vendor reading this, relax. But do not call or email me. Feel free to leave comments on the blog here, I'm sure you'll need to vent or say something just to try to get the last word in. It wont' work, but feel free.
  4. I have no bad feelings towards these vendors and will happily keep speaking up about them either until they go away, or GET IT RIGHT (that would be great to be honest).
  5. I'm leaving the deep analysis to others here, here and here regarding the acquisition.
For my colleagues working in marketing (and IT) at non-profits around the world.

Me: Ask me what I think of Convio buying GetActive - please... I dare you...

You: Umm, Ok. I feel like I'm being set up here but... Marc, what do you think of the recent news that Convio is buying GetActive?

Me: Great question You! I don't care who buys who. I just don't want to have to listen or deal with any of it.

The reason I don't care is simple. Taken collectively their software and services are not what I REALLY need.

I'm the customer and I get to decide what I need, not them. I want USEFUL marketing tools, not crappy, limited email management and "not quite complete" CMS capability.

I want remarkable service that starts and ends with deep industry expertise. Here's a hint to the vendors out there who will invariably read this post... don't ever let me know more about how your software works than your tech folks. Ever.

I want a great user experience.

I want it to be cheaper, and thus easier to convince my management that you are not going to go belly up any day now.

I want TONS AND TONS of flexibility. Ever heard of web services folks? Get with the program. You know who you are.

I do not want to deal with F.U.D either... (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). I got this little doozy of an email sent to me yesterday, just a few days after the announcement from Kintera:

Has the proposed merger of Convio and GetActive raised uncertainty at your nonprofit – creating concern about the integration of technology platforms, culture, and which platform survives?

Yea folks.. it DOES CONCERN ME. But so does crappy service and incomplete and hard to use tools. So take that.

Deep breath.

Yes, there was a time in non-profit marketing land when the industry really needed a software vendor to swoop in and save the day with an all in one box of stuff that made really hard things like CRM, emarketing, email marketing easy. Not so true anymore. Look around at the quality of marketers and fund raisers now working in the NPO industry. Back in 2001, there was a clear lack of skill players, many NPO's didn't even have marketing as a defined piece of the puzzle.

Things are different now. People like Adam Pellegrini (ACS), Randal Moss (ACS), Patty Goldman (March of Dimes), Adam Hicks (CARE), Simon Moshesvilli (March of Dimes) and Jeff Como (Leukemia & Lymphoma) have flooded the industry brining massive amounts of smarts, process and talent with them.

We're asking hard questions now - like what's the data integration strategy and how do I do sophisticated marketing on a platform of tools. Why can't I easily create RSS feeds, why can't I create integrated Web services that talk to my legacy systems, why can't I easily create a mobile version of my web site?

If you look at the current CMS, CRM and e-mail vendors in the for-profit space you realize that the technology has moved on - the level of sophistication required to compete today far outstrips what these types of all in one vendors provide.

That DOESN'T make it wrong to choose one of them however... the REALITY is that even though the industry is making great strides, we're still extremely limited in resources and funds to afford more sophisticated systems. At The International Rescue Committee, I've inherited GetActive. It happens to be working fine for now - assuming that we don't really want to aggressively pursue our strategies of presenting ourselves internationally. That's because it's not that easy to create micro-sites that leverage existing content but allow internationalization within the existing CMS toolset.

You: umm, thanks I think. You are a tiny bit insane you know.

Me: Yes, I know. Thanks for asking!

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