Skittles and Your Nonprofit

Post by Frank Barry - 3.09.2009 - Follow me on Twitter

Have you seen the new Skittles website yet? If not, stop reading this now and go to skittles.com. Once you are done come back.

I’m reading a book by Seth Godin called “Tribes”. Although it’s not the main point of the book, he does talk a bit about another book he wrote called “Purple Cow” where he describes how normal cows are not usually worth talking about, but if there were a purple cow, well that would be worth discussing! The whole idea is to be remarkable.

In my mind the new Skittles web site is just that, remarkable (a big fat purple cow). People will talk about the bold move by Skittles. In fact you can see a lot of things being said by checking out the chatter on Twitter.

So what did they do? The built their entire corporate web site in a “Mashup” style – using pretty much all third party web sites to build their main Skittles site. It’s amazing, bold, crazy, daring, and possibly even disastrous. We’ll have to see how it plays out over time. But, one thing you can say about Skittles is that they were willing to be risk takers and put themselves on the line by doing something that no other large corporation has done yet.

And that’s precisely my point. What is YOUR nonprofit doing to be bold, try new things, take risks, and attempt what’s never been done before?

You see, what I’m learning is that the markets have changed (or they are in the process of changing). What people want is something new, creative, and daring! Skittles just pulled off all three.

So what can we learn here?

  1. Be transparent – Skittles used third party sites like Twitter, Facebook, FlickrWikipedia and YouTube. There’s no control over what’s being said about them on those sites. If they are doing a great job serving their customers it will show. The flip side to that is also true. If they do a poor job serving their customers it will show – all over their corporate web site. Talk about a challenge!

    I believe your supporters, donors, members, etc… are looking for the same type of transparency. They want to know what’s going on, be heard and know that you are listening.

  2. Be bold – I’ve never seen an organization do this – large or small. Have you? What Skittles did takes guts. I can imagine the internal conversations happening over the past year or so (maybe more for a company of that size). I’m sure it was no easy task to get a site like this sold to the internal stakeholders let alone approved. In my mind it was a very bold move, but look at it now. Their new site is generating so much buzz and excitement – exactly what they were hoping for I’m sure.

    Your supporters, donors, members, etc… want something to talk about. They want to share their passion with their friends and family. They’re tired of the same old boring stuff. So go out and do something that gives them something to talk about – be bold!

  3. Be a change agent – What Skittles did may change the game. Enough said.

    We all want to see change, progress, impact, etc… right? Recently Obama demonstrated this effect right in front of our eyes. People rallied around him because of the inspiring message and possibility for change.

    All of your supporters, donors, members, etc… want to see your organization make positive and progressive change that furthers the mission, raises more funds and really changes the world!

What do you think of the new Skittles.com? More importantly what can your nonprofit learn from what they did? Or maybe you disagree completely? Leave a comment!

Photo credit: Peppysis