Feature Sidebar: 10 Tips for Using Cartoons in Direct-Mail Fundraising
5. Make sure the recipient comes out on top.
Personalized cartoons only work when they stroke recipients’ egos. If your cartoon isn’t paying a compliment, beware. It might instead be making your entire file — and you — the butt of a very bad joke.
6. Use comic tension.
I’m always amazed at how often clients equate smiling faces in drawings with humor — and probably security. But a bunch of smiling faces sitting around a board table is not funny. Bewildered faces, tense faces — and conflict — are the synthesis of humor. Remember, this is a cartoon. It’s supposed to be funny.
7. Never attempt to represent the recipient in the cartoon.
You’ll never depict each recipient accurately. Do you draw a man? A woman? Is the person bald? Tall and thin? Short and stout? You have no way of knowing. Better to refer to recipients out-of-frame than risk alienating them with misrepresentations.
8. Never use gender-specific references.
I have never encountered a foolproof genderization program. There always will be Leslies, Carrolls and Jans in your file. Worse yet are the first initial-only entries found in every database. And none of them enjoy being pegged as a member of the opposite sex in a cartoon.
9. Take a reality check.
If you have done everything right so far, ask yourself one final question: Is this cartoon something recipients would want framed and mounted on their walls? Regardless of whether you’re actually offering an art print, if it doesn’t pass this test, it won’t pass the real test.
10. The Automatic Failure Rule.
Direct-marketing cartooning requires an entirely different set of highly specialized skills than the ones taught in direct-marketing courses. If anything, personalized cartoon mail will automatically fail unless it’s done just right. Always use the best talent available. This is not for beginners.