The art of creating a successful direct mail pack. Part 2: The creation
Part 2: the creation
If you’ve just read part:1 The foundation then welcome back, it’s nice to see you again!
If you’re new here, we suggest reading Part 1. Or not. It’s up to you. Either way the below info should come in handy next time you’re about to tackle a DM pack. It’s brimming with tips we’ve picked up over the years in both creative design and copy – and if you have anything else to add, feel free to comment at the end.
Save the organisational puffery
Many organisations miss the mark when it comes to telling stories. They focus on how they’ve been around for 50 years, won 12 awards and have offices in three states.
The thing is, donors don’t care.
Instead, they want to know how you’re helping the cause and making an impact.
The best way to do this is through a micro story – a compelling, personal case study that your donor can empathise with. Once you have this, you need a stellar interview to find those little gems that will make your letter shine. See our post on 11 tips for a great fundraising interview.
Can I have $50 please?
Obviously, this is NOT the way to ask a donor for money. At the same time, it’s surprising how many direct mail pieces we have seen that have one or no asks in the letter, until the very end.
The rule is simple: do it early, do it often, do it directly.
The first ask for money must appear in the first half of the first page, ideally in the Johnson Box, and again in the body copy. Following that, once on each of the middle pages and two to three times on the last page, including the P.S.
Include clear deadlines, no more than three to four weeks from mailing, and be specific about what you need, when you need it and why.
Build it up, buttercup
Devote the bulk of your letter to your case study because this will build both the need and the urgency. Then explain how the donor’s gift will help, with strategically placed asks.
A good technique is witnessing; this means making the story personal to the signatory. For example, “I spoke to Jack about his living situation… “ or “When I visited Maria and her family … “ – it establishes a personal connection to the case study and allows for an emotional reaction.
Personalisation greatly increases response rates. Think name, suburb, length of support, type of supporter, interactions with your organisation and previous giving history.
Then, take the charity out of it. For example, “Your gift, Mrs Kim, will save people’s lives” and not “Your gift, Mrs Kim, will help us save lives.”
It’s obvious, we know. But here’s a reminder regardless: say THANK YOU! Part of the stewardship model is thanking donors for their ongoing support. It makes them feel valued and goes a long way to building strong relationships.
Use magic words to describe your donors: caring, compassionate, helpful, friendly, kind, wonderful, generous, fantastic and amazing. Reserve words like exceptional, outstanding, extraordinary and incredible for high value donors.
One fact too many
Facts and figures can hurt response rates, even when used with a case study. That’s because emotional arguments (usually) trump rational ones. If you use them, do so thoughtfully and sparingly:
- Break them down: one in five people, not 1005 in every 5025 people;
- Use them in positive outcomes: thanks to you, we’ve helped 3000 people; and
- Use them to back up your claim or need: after you’ve described how bad something is, for example, back it up with a stat.
Pssst, don’t forget the Post Script
While we’re on facts, here’s a fun one for you: the P.S. is the first part of the letter read by 80% of donors.
It’s important. So don’t forget about it! Make sure you repeat your key information in a few sentences, including the Ask.
White space is your friend
Graphic design can make or break a direct mail pack. Used in the right way, it will enhance an emotion and elicit a response. It can’t do this, of course, if the letter you send is cluttered and full of colour.
Remember, most people who receive direct mail are older. Their eyesight may not be what it once was. And so a well-balanced letter with easy-to-read font, bite-sized chunks of copy and ample white space will allow the page to ‘breathe’.
Functionality is key. You want readers to easily navigate through the letter, picking out the most important parts (i.e. the Asks), and moving effortlessly to the response mechanism.
Here’s where the design can be more ‘free’. Lift pieces aid the main letter by providing detail either about the case study or the organisation/project. Content should be new, and how it looks and feels needs to grab attention. Think photos, illustrations, bullet points, colourful boxes, large headings … and gifts.
Rewarding your donors with bookmarks or stickers or personal handwritten thank you notes is a great way to engage your supporters, make them feel valued, and prompt them to keep donating.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts (but on the outside does, too)
Getting someone to open the envelope is often the first hurdle. You don’t want to spend all this time and energy creating a beautiful, powerful pack only for someone to receive it and bin it.
Get around that with a quirky tagline – something that intrigues, entices, asks a question, states a shocking fact, or plays to an emotion. Test a large envelope. Test a bright envelope. Test an envelope that says nothing at all. Keep going until you find what works for your organisation.
P.S. Our experienced team of strategists, designers and writers can help you create an effective DM pack. Say hello and let’s meet for a coffee and a chinwag.