Bring Back That Loving Feeling
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about declining results for direct mail and flagging e-mail open rates. Our outreach apparently is not sparking the passionate responses we want.
Don’t our donors and prospects love us anymore? Why don’t they take our calls?
If this is starting to sound like an “advice for the lovelorn” column, then that’s appropriate. As fundraisers, we’ve got a lot of the same problems as the people writing Dear Abby. And I think our response-rate heartache is based in the root causes that the advice columnists so often cite. Really. The relationship we have with our donors and prospects is not transactional; it’s deeply human. When it goes wrong, it’s for the same fundamental reasons we might find strain our other relationships, like taking someone for granted, not listening to his or her perspective, and neglecting to show our feelings.
And I’m going to prove it — right in this column.
Dear Marketing Maven:
My e-mail list isn’t what it used to be. People aren’t listening to me anymore, and each time I ask for their help, they’re less responsive. Why doesn’t my list love me anymore?
— Despairing in Development
I suspect you’re getting the silent treatment for three reasons. First, you could be a stalker. Do you have permission to e-mail your list? Are these people who’ve said they want to hear from you? If not, don’t expect them to greet your spammy self with open arms.
Second, I suspect you’ve probably been taking some of your list for granted. Just because some people once were generous doesn’t mean you can keep asking for more and more. You need to be giving back — thanking that list and showing it a great time with fabulous stories about the great things it has accomplished. Make it feel loved.