3 Ways to Stay On-Message for Maximum Response
In the heat of the primary campaign in the last presidential election cycle, candidate Mitt Romney was on the hustings in Iowa giving a talk before a crowd of supporters, and that’s when it happened.
Just as he launched into his point about raising taxes on people, a heckler shouted, “Corporations!” To which Romney responded, “Corporations are people, my friend.” A testy exchange between candidate and heckler ensued, and just that fast, a skilled politician veered off-message, swerving down a perilous road.
Going off-message doesn’t happen only in politics. Truth is, it happens in fundraising more often than we’d like to admit. You can see it in appeals that send mixed messages, lack clear direction and never come together, seeming like collections of unrelated parts rather than a coherent whole with a single, compelling point.
It’s the inevitable result when the creative team strays from the most important part of any online or offline appeal — the offer. You’re in a brainstorming session with ideas bouncing around, and before you know it, your appeal ends up as a mishmash of contradictory elements, some supporting the offer, some undercutting it. What will donors think? You don’t have to guess. They’ll tell you loud and clear by not responding.
Here are three ways to make sure your appeal stays on-message for maximum impact and response.
1. Develop a strong offer
In order to stay on-message, you first need the right one. A strong offer is a clear statement about what your donor will do and what she’ll receive in return. It’s the deal, the transaction, the quid pro quo. But it’s something more, too. Your offer is the emotional link between your donor and your nonprofit’s mission. It’s an expression of your donor’s aspirations about being a good person and the validation of those aspirations, all put into action through the work your nonprofit does.
An agency-trained, award-winning, freelance fundraising copywriter and consultant with years of on-the-ground experience, George specializes in crafting direct mail appeals, online appeals and other communications that move donors to give. He serves major nonprofits with projects ranging from specialized appeals for mid-level and high-dollar donors, to integrated, multichannel campaigns, to appeals for acquisition, reactivation and cultivation.