Customer Needs vs. Customer WantsAt first glance, Peter Swanson’s LinkedIn profile might surprise you.

As I was doing a little cyber stalking to prepare for our chat, I checked him out and thought to myself, “This guy has done a little bit of everything.”

I was intrigued.

Peter admits that out of context, “You’d think I was all over the place. But each opportunity opened a new door.” Swanson’s professional path is far from a traditional career ladder; he has a breakthrough mindset that has allowed him to broaden his skill set while continuing to grow professionally.

peterswansonheadshotHe recognizes that it might be confusing on paper, but in practice each transition made perfect sense. “Each position provided the experience that I otherwise couldn’t have had at my age. Along the way I was taking each opportunity and turning it into the next opportunity while not being afraid to take a risk.”

That fearlessness continues to serve him well. His somewhat fluid view of professional advancement is enabling him to find success even when threatened with failure.

We spoke recently about the latest stop along his winding career path. Peter, a self-confessed serial entrepreneur, is currently building BEAM concierge services. BEAM provides bundled technology and back office services for non-profits. But in its short lifespan, BEAM’s path has already navigated a few twists and turns.

Knowing When To Refocus

Initially, BEAM was a technology company that provided micro-donor stewardship software for non-profits. It’s a service that Peter and his peers saw lacking as fundraising practices shift to meet the next generation of donors.

According to BEAM’s website, “By 2030, Millennials are projected to outnumber Baby Boomers by 22 million, making the emergence of Millennials a key audience to target.” This generation gives much differently than their predecessors. Millennials tend to give smaller amounts more frequently. Peter suggests they are even more apt to give their time than to write a check.

As non-profits recognize this changing climate they must move away from their current fundraising models. Large, end-of-the-year tax-incentive driven gifts are becoming a thing of the past. This isn’t bad news. One gift of $10,000 or 1,000 gifts of $10 is still $10,000. However, maintaining and managing 1,000 donor relationships can be much more time-consuming and a drain on already stretched non-profit staffs.

This is where BEAM’s software can help. It’s designed to engage and manage relationships with large groups of people that give small amounts. It meets donors where they are and uses technology to communicate in ways in which they are comfortable.

Sounds perfect, right? BEAM has a product that eases a pain point felt by non-profits.

But there’s a catch.

Delivering What a Customer Needs

As Peter’s team began to connect with customers, he realized that the donor information needed to run his software and deliver on its promises wasn’t always easily accessible. Various departments kept data siloed and if customers had appropriate CRM software the information it maintained needed a bit of massaging to be useful. As Peter says, “Information systems are only as good as the information you put into them.”

Peter’s team was spending a lot of time gathering and cleaning up data with each new client.

They quickly realized that although customers wanted micro-donor stewardship assistance, what they needed was back-end office support.

Peter saw an opportunity to change his company’s strategy. He explains, “It wasn’t so much a pivot as a refocus. Now we provide a more comprehensive approach to solving an organization’s root issue.”

BEAM is no longer a technology company. The software is no longer the product. Instead, they sell time and expertise. According to Peter, “We’re interested in selling peace of mind. We know this software. We’re in the weeds so that it can be very simple for a non-profit’s staff. They can go back to focusing on their mission.”

Peter Swanson’s fluid thinking and desire to solve a problem rather than just sell a product has BEAM poised to make a real impact on the non-profit community.

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