Direct Mail

Two Premium Response Boosters
May 30, 2006

It’s through constant testing that we’re able to separate the winning packages from the losers. But with so many ideas, what truly constitutes effective direct-mail creative? And why does one package soar while others sink? The answer to effective creative is always in the results. The stats of any particular package will reveal whether a concept worked or not. Across the board, however -- no matter the package -- premiums generally seem to give packages a boost. Here are two tried-and-true premiums that work continuously, while others have come and gone. 1) Name labels. Name labels consistently perform well for one main reason: It’s

Don't Suffocate Your Readers
May 1, 2006

Not long ago, I was shopping at Whole Foods when I realized with a jolt that I was just an appliquéed theme sweater away from turning into my mother.

There I was, squinting helplessly at a product label I couldn’t read. Hoping to auto focus my eyes like a telephoto lens, I stretched the item out as far as my hand would reach and brought it back again to within an inch of my face. No luck.

What the $@#&?
May 1, 2006

Editor’s Note: This article contains some words and passages that some readers might find offensive or unsettling. We chose to leave them in so that the author could make his point, as well as to illustrate the powerful effect they can have on a reader. We apologize in advance for any offense. 

Talking Back
May 1, 2006

Is your organization “pushing the envelope” with direct mail? Tell us about your most daring DM efforts.

A Premium Symbol
April 1, 2006

A changing of the guard can be a good time to revamp your direct-mail packages. When Covenant House International brought a new president on board in fall 2003, it needed to change its acquisition packages, which contained a letter signed by the previous president.

The international childcare agency took this opportunity to test a few other ideas in its Spanish-language acqui-sition campaign — namely the premium it was using.

A Look Inside the Outside
April 1, 2006

Sure, e-philanthropy is hot, but most nonprofit organizations still rely on direct mail as their fundraising workhorses. And the outer envelope is the wrapper for your all-important ask. It’s the first thing recipients see, feel and interact with.

As such, it requires a well- reasoned strategy that depends a lot on an organization’s mission, target audience and competition in the mail. Something that works for an advocacy group might not be right for a health organization. One thing that worked 10 years ago might still fly, while another favorite tactic could flop. It’s a testing game for each organization.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
March 1, 2006

A professor stood before his class, picked up a large jar and filled it with golf balls. He asked his students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

Then he poured pebbles into the jar. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. Again he asked if the jar was full, and the students responded, “Yes.” Next he poured sand into the jar, and it filled up everything else. Again he asked the students if the jar was full, and they said, “Yes.”

The "Up and Out" Fallacy
March 1, 2006

I’ve heard the explanation so many times now that I’m sick of it. It goes something like this: “When our direct-mail donors give more than $1,000 in a single year, we move them out of the regular mail program and over to the upper-level or even the major-donor program. They deserve special treatment.”

The dollar threshold might be different from organization to organization, but the underlying thinking is the same: Once donors reach a certain giving level, they need to be “protected” from the regular direct-mail appeal program.

Casting a Wide ‘Net’
March 1, 2006

For years, Washington, D.C.-based The Humane Society of the United States ignored the Internet’s full potential to reach donors and supporters.

Here’s the situation we found ourselves in: HSUS’ Web site in April 2003 had been transferred to its third department in five years. While the site was graphically appealing and content rich, it ran on proprietary software developed by a company that no longer was in business.