This doesn’t mean you should reject a compiled list. Ask your list broker why he or she recommended each list. Why is this one worth more money than others? How will the low-cost option perform compared to the higher-cost ones? A good broker gives you a thoughtful recommendation backed up with facts (and a bit of intuition that comes from experience). After all, he or she wants to have a long relationship with your nonprofit, and a sloppy list recommendation that doesn’t produce new donors sabotages that goal.
'Measure twice, cut once'
If a list totally bombs — and it is one you and your list broker really believed in — test it again. It could be a victim of seasonality, your mailing coming on the heels of a big push by the list owner for its own cause or any number of other factors that you can’t control. But if it fails twice, drop it. Don’t hang on to a poor-performing list just because you or your broker thinks it should work.
An experienced list broker can be one of your best partners in a direct-mail acquisition effort. Because list brokers have knowledge of the marketplace that you may not have, they will ask questions like these, according to Packer:
- What is the message of your mailing?
- Is your message sellable?
- Is the emotion in the message?
- Why should donors respond to your message?
- Have you given them a compelling reason to believe that making a donation is a smart choice?
Give your broker the information he or she needs to make good list recommendations and ask tough questions — and you’ll give your direct-mail acquisition a better chance of acquiring donors for your cause. And that’s a win!
Pamela Barden is the creative juice and the copywriting machine behind PJBarden Inc., a consulting firm focusing on helping small to midsized nonprofits see big results in fundraising. You can follow Pamela on Twitter @pjbarden.