Case Study: Spin 'Em a Yarn
In the search for a happy medium between esoteric jargon and more elementary copy, narrative could be the golden mean.
The National Audubon Society arrived at this crossroads in fall 2003. Faced with the challenge of mailing a letter that talked about the connection between members’ interests in conservation and science in an engaging way, Audubon turned to storyteller Carolyn Rapp.
The organization sent out its first mailing penned by Rapp late last year. The new approach, according to Agnes Fitzmaurice, Audubon’s annual giving manager, was influenced by “messages that were tested with focus groups.”
“One of those messages was bringing the idea of conservation home,” she adds.
The mailing that dropped in late March was enclosed in a yellow, 6-inch-by-9-inch envelope featuring the teaser copy: “More ways to help more birds and have more fun doing it!”
Sent to current members and donors, new members, and recent renewals, it includes a four-page letter; four-color, double-sided buckslip; order card; and BRE.
A letter with allure
Beginning with “Dear Auduboner,” the letter emphasizes Audubon’s commitment to helping citizens protect nature through programs such as the Christmas Bird Count, the Great Backyard Bird Count and Audubon at Home programs.
“We wanted to bring it down to a human story level and ... tell stories of how people are involved ... and what it’s doing for them,” Fitzmaurice explains.
The letter strives to convey this message on the first page, stating: “A man joins a group of fellow bird enthusiasts in a marsh on Long Island one day late in December to count birds. His participation — along with 56,000 others — in Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count provides vital information to the longest-running survey and largest database in ornithology in the Western Hemisphere and helps guide our work to protect critical bird habitat.”