Say What You Mean — In More Ways Than One
Sometimes in direct mail, it’s not just what you say but how many different times and ways you say it that gets the message across to recipients. That’s not to say that a brief, well-written letter won’t do the trick, but when financially do-able, more elements (touch points) within a mailing — each one reiterating your message in a different way with a different graphical mix — can help break through the message-screening filter of most consumers/donors.
This mailing by the International Rescue Committee does a great job of mixing simple and high-gloss elements, and reiterating its message in a variety of ways. To start, the No. 10 outer envelope is plain, off-white. The only accents are the return address, which includes newsman Tom Brokaw’s name and copy reading “for the International Rescue Committee” underneath it, and “Update on Sudan Crisis” pseudo-stamped in red.
The 8.5-inch-by-11-inch, four-page letter also is on off-white paper and simple. The IRC logo appears in the upper left corner in black and white. The letter is written by Brokaw, announced at the beginning of the letter as “Co-chair, Board of Overseers,” and is very well-written, with a high-touch feel to it. Brokaw begins by talking about his professional experience with IRC (“When I go on assignment to the world’s trouble spots, I often discover the IRC there ahead of me”), then moves to his personal connection to the organization (“If I seem to be writing about the IRC in very personal terms, there is a reason. You see, the Brokaw family has a long history with this remarkable organization”).
Brokaw’s letter also includes an ask, testimonials from SmartMoney magazine and references to the organization’s accountability (“That’s because 90 cents of every dollar the IRC spends goes directly to helping refugees and others in desperate need), and a reference to IRC’s Charity Navigator rating. But it’s the personal connection of this celebrity signatory that’s the most potent aspect of the letter. As Brokaw ends, “I am not writing to ask you to support an organization with which I have a passing familiarity. I am urging you to join me in helping sustain the work of a group to which I am deeply committed.” What’s more, the 3.5-inch-by-8.5-inch cream-colored reply device is labeled “Personal Reply to Tom Brokaw.”
The mailing also includes an 8.5-inch-by-14-inch glossy, one-sided insert rife with four-color photographs of the crisis in Darfur. Below each photograph is a description of the need in Darfur and the work IRC is doing to provide services to the region. The insert features IRC’s branded black and yellow colors, as does the 3.5-inch-by-8-inch glossy, four-color brochure with six panels. The brochure features more photographs along with descriptions of the services IRC provides and hard numbers on the number of people the organization serves. It also includes a description of the organization’s mission and a pie chart reiterating the breakdown of where funds are spent.
A 3.5-inch-by-8-inch glossy, four-color lift note has the same branded look as the insert and brochure. The cover of the lift note features a picture of children with the headline, “International Rescue Committee receives highest praise for efficiency … again!” It opens to a full-color spread again reiterating testimonials from Newsweek, SmartMoney and Forbes magazines, a Better Business Bureau logo, and a graph that breaks down IRC’s spending.
It’s a great mix of simple, low-gloss, high-touch elements with glossy, four-color spreads that gives — and gives again — recipients all of the information they need to feel compelled to give to IRC.
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