Direct Marketing

Direct Mail Reality Check Outakes from Fundraising Day in New York
Here are some very interesting tips from folks who do direct mail 24/7 and shared their expertise at a recent session at Fundraising Day in New York (remember, this work is 99% fundraising). But I gotta say, I was shocked by the bubble some of these experts are trapped in; read on for details:

  • How much you say depends on who you’re reaching
    • Prospects respond better to longer (4pp.) letters
    • While in-house lists (current donors) prefer a shorter letter (2pp.)
  • People assume you’re customizing the letter to them
    • So it’s not always necessary to explicate that
    • Members who received mailings for an annual fund campaign responded at a higher rate to the test that didn’t address them as members, or refer to their membership at all.
  • Be as tangible as possible for higher impact
    • A fundraising mailing that featured a ribbon drew much better when a real cloth ribbon, rather than a ribbon sticker, was used.
  • Too much nitty-gritty can depress response
    • When the Special Olympics(SO) integrated testimonials from the families of its atheletes, response rate fell
    • My guess: Perhaps SO’s current direct mail donor base (60+) doesn’t want to hear the truth. The rest of us crave it. And so will we when we get older. Look alive, direct mailers.
  • Companion emails increase response to direct mail by 12%, especially when the ask in is the first two paragraphs of the email
    • This is no surprise to those of us immersed in integrated marketing, but most of the speakers (and listeners) at FRDNY are all mail, all the time.
  • Authenticity rules — handwritten cards (real, not printed handwriting) work

All useful to know. But here’s what really startled me. When I asked the panel of three direct mail experts why they’re focusing only on folks 60+, they stared at me like I was crazy. The universal response was that the other prospects were handled by other parts of the organization (online only), and that they don’t give much. What about shepherding folks teens up into supporting nonprofits in all ways? What about people now 60 who’ve been using the Web for 15 years? What about all those confused audiences who are getting snail mail and email that are completely uncoordinated?

Wake up, direct mailers, and break out of your bubble.

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Nancy Schwartz in Direct Marketing, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments
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Is Direct Mail Dead or Alive Share Your Take Tomorrow Noon ESTIs direct mail dead, or still a vital element in your nonprofit’s fundraising and marketing agenda? I’m a strong believer in the latter — direct mail has a lesser, but still vital, role in your marketing mix.

But ask your questions of two fundraising experts Roger Craver and Madeline Staniosis, hosts of tomorrow’s online discussion hosted at noon EST by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Ask before the discussion goes live, and you have a far better chance of getting your question answered.

Craver and Staniosis will respond to your questions and mine, in the context of a recent study of major nonprofits that found direct mail appeals are not raising as much money as they used to. No surprise, since donor/audience information habits continue to migrate online, while increases in postal rates make a good ROI on a mail campaign less certain than it used to be.

I’ll be there. You should too.

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Nancy Schwartz in Direct Marketing, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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Make Sure I(s) are Dotted and Bows Tied Before You Drop Your Mailing -- Otherwise, You Frustrate Me To No EndWe’re loyal members of the Reeves-Reed Arboretum (RR), a nearby conservancy that’s both beautiful and innovative gardenwise, while providing lots of pleasure and great educational programs for gardeners (and garden enjoyers) of all ages.

The daffodil bowl is one of my favorite treats at Reeves-Reed, offering visitors a dramatic immersion into a glacial bowl planted with over 30,000 daffodils. That’s our daughter Charlotte among last year’s blossoms.

What I don’t love about the Arboretum is the frequent disconnect between its programmatic finesse and its marketing. Here’s an example:

  • Last week I received my spring members mailing, and excitedly tore it open.
  • I digested several events I’d like to attend, including a Wellness Walk, Art in the Garden, and the Great American Backyard Campout.
  • But….when I went to the RR Web site, I couldn’t find a description of any of these events. The calendar featured 2007 events and I got frustrated.

Nonprofit marketers, let this be a lesson. If you do a mailing or drop a mass email, make sure the back-up/related info is everywhere it needs to be (offline, online, staff members trained). If you don’t, you’ll lose attendees, and loyalty.

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Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Direct Marketing, Don'ts, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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Bloggers Tom Belford and Roger Craver of The Agitator are agitating their readers to submit their best-performing direct mail letters and packages. No critique, just the foundation of an online resource for colleague communicators and fundraisers. 

So step up and submit your best-evers in direct mail, current or from the past. Submission details here.

So far, the agitators have shared two direct mail packages, both of which are great models:

I urge you to submit your direct mail packages that have done well.   We have a lot to learn from each other.

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Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Direct Marketing, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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