Case Study: Spin 'Em a Yarn
The storyteller strategy has proven to be a successful one, bringing in 2 percent more than the net income originally forecasted. Fitzmaurice says: “The focus of this mailing is driving the average gift higher. This format of telling stories is very effective, because talking about ecospheres can be very dry.”
Through Rapp’s storytelling, the letter transcends the weight of scientific language, transporting the reader into a more lush, literary read.
Audubon also uses storytelling to create urgency. Interspersed with stories of how members benefit from Audubon’s programs is text that ignites a sense of impending doom by stressing dangers such as “the increasing threats from habitat loss and degradation” and the vital need for these programs so scientists are aware of how the West Nile virus is impacting bird species.
“People in our file will respond to different kinds of things,” Fitzmaurice says. “Some respond to ‘the sky is falling, send us money.’”
Balancing the empowerment members gain from their involvement with imperative news about declining species increases Audubon’s chances of eliciting responses from members moved by eloquent stories as well as those ignited by “the sky is falling” rhetoric.
This article originally appeared in the July 2004 edition of Inside Direct Mail, a sister publication of FundRaising Success. Log on to www.insidedirectmail.com.