Unforgettable: You Can Do It Too

Published in Ebony magazine, April 1967, Vol. 20 No. 6 “When the new antenna went live, you’d swear that Dizzy Gillespie was playing right next to you.”

I can easily visualize this scene, and hear it too. Can’t you?

In fact, this excerpt from WBGO’s (NYC’s premier jazz radio station) recent appeal made the listening-enriching value of the station’s new antenna crystal clear—by showing, not telling.

Compare it with another station’s intro of its new antenna:

Replacing the equipment and moving it to the higher elevation immediately improved the strength of the signal, says Tyron, increasing the broadcast penetration within the licensed area (approximately a 35-mile radius from Claremont); improving the signal reach for areas like Covina, El Monte, San Bernardino and Riverside; diminishing interference with the signal; and resulting in fewer drops of the signal.

Blah, blah, blah. Beware the curse of knowledge. This writer is definitely cursed, forgetting that the people she wants to engage aren’t exposed to the specifics of the new antenna’s impact for audiences at the memorable gut level like she is. As a result, she (like so many nonprofit writers) writes in broad, vague strokes—or dull minutiae— that are forgotten in a flash.

Instead, pepper your fundraising messages with rich, memorable details to make them:

  • Authentic: The right details give a story a much greater presence, a feel of real truth.
  • Unique: Getting specific is often the fastest way to make content rise above the mean. The details distinguish your message from others that otherwise sound so similar. Shout out and shine!
  • Convey much more with fewer words: Specific words and images can clarify a message much faster than a long-form narrative explanation of the core point.
  • Transport the reader: Like a good movie or compelling novel, where you are get completely absorbed in the story, rich details can draw your audiences into getting lost in your message. As a result, they’re far more likely to remember it, act and spread the word.

How do you use rich detail to show (not tell), bringing your prospects and supporters into your organization’s story? Please share your experiences here.

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Nancy Schwartz on June 3, 2015 in Messaging | 0 comments
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