Direct-mail Options From Dick Goldsmith
One of the goals of a direct-mail appeal should be a personal connection, says Dick Goldsmith, chairman of The Horah Group, a full-service direct-marketing agency. Appeals that refer to previous donations and unique ask strings based on previous donations can help add that personal connection.
Using variable data is another way to connect with recipients, Goldsmith says. It can give a national organization the ability to, for example, overlay recipients’ geographic information into a direct-mail campaign to talk about how it’s helping people in the recipient’s local community.
“If they can tell me that they help people who were hit by floods two counties away from where I live, it’s going to hit home a lot harder,” he says.
Goldsmith explains that stamps are more personal than indicias. But if the outer envelope is less personal-looking, with headlines and a lot of graphics, he recommends using an indicia.
“There’s no sense in spending your money on a personalized stamp, because everybody knows that it’s not personal mail. If you’re sending out a package that you want to look like a personal mailing, then you should use a stamp,” he says.
Goldsmith also shares advice on using elements like Post-it notes and postcards. Putting a Post-it note on the outer envelope costs more money in postage, but it definitely attracts attention. It can be used as a teaser to get recipients inside your mailing.
But if you’re going to use a Post-it note, make sure that it serves a purpose beyond directing recipients to “look inside” your envelope.
“That’s a waste of money. You don’t need to have a Post-it note to say that,” Goldsmith says. “What you really want a Post-it note for is to remind somebody to do something and have on that Post-it note contact information — a URL, a phone number, something that they can just keep and know that based on that they can respond.”
And postcards are a great way to get a message directly into the hands of recipients, but there can be a number of drawbacks for nonprofits.
For one thing, they lack the space necessary to get a message across. What’s more, they don’t include an envelope, so there’s no way to really ask for gifts to be mailed in.
“The only thing you could do with a postcard would be to drive traffic to a Web site and have people make online donations, and you probably only want to do that with people who have previously contributed online,” he says. “But if they previously donated online, then you’d probably just send them an e-mail. Why send a postcard?”
The best use for postcards in nonprofit direct mail is to announce an event, he says.
Goldsmith recommends organizations test what elements and approaches work best for them. “That’s the beauty of direct mail. You can test it and see if it works,” he adds.
Dick Goldsmith can be reached via www.horah.com