The Brochure Legend Lives On
“If they let us in the house, we’re just about 50 percent there. But if they let us sit down on their couch and pet their mangy dog, and if the conversation goes on for more than 10 minutes or so, and if they say it’s OK for me to light up my pipe, the only thing that could prevent a sale is their personal lack of credit.”
I didn’t sell many storm windows that summer, but on several occasions I made it to the living-room couch and petted the mangy dog.
Isn’t that the way it works with direct-mail fundraising letters? The longer a person continues to read the letter, the more involved she becomes.
If a prospect reads the brochure and not the letter, then your mail piece becomes an advertisement, not a one-to-one message from you to her.
Prospects who read your letter suspend disbelief and fail to apply any rational reasoning. They know in the back of their minds that the same letter is going out to thousands of other people.
But the reader can’t suspend disbelief when the brochure screams: “I’m advertising!” In direct-mail fundraising, we tend to forget that real, live, breathing individuals are reading and reacting — or not reacting — to our mail.
The Internet effect
The Internet has been successful for fundraisers only when there is a massive disaster of some kind and they need a quick, reliable way for donors to express their charitable impulses and give to a highly publicized bad event.
But when it comes to developing a revenue stream, month in and month out, I don’t see that happening — yet. (Do you know anyone who is renewing monthly donors by e-mail?)
However, what I do see is a lot of organizations spending megabucks on their Web sites, both for design and content. And so, what are some astute letter writers doing these days?