How Older Ideas Can Be ‘New’ Again
As you’re going into the next decade, it might be a good time to take stock of some old ideas that can be new again. But how do you find those old ideas?
Go back to some of your old packages and emails, and retest them. See what happens.
When I worked at Reader’s Digest in Amsterdam several decades ago, there were two approaches we took that worked over and over again:
- We had a huge stock room of samples of prior campaigns. And every seven years or so, we’d go back to some of these old packages and retest them. Guess what? They worked! And they worked well! No need to keep reinventing the wheel all the time. Just go back to something that worked a few years ago and see what happens. Direct mail (and I bet you social media and email does, too) goes in cycles. Because people forget. Because people change. Because people are human beings who respond to similar triggers.
- We received samples of what worked in other countries, and we’d test them in our country. Guess what? They worked! And they typically worked well. Of course, we’d have to adapt them to the payment system and some colors that were more appealing for (in our case) Dutch audiences. But those were very simple adaptations.
This past weekend, I was going through some of my old direct mail samples. I’ve already scanned in boxes and boxes of samples from both my publishing years and fundraising years. I found this great example that dates back from the years where the advanced digital technology that we know today didn’t exist yet, and pinfeed personalization was the norm. It’s in Dutch, so I’ve translated the message below the sample.
Let’s take a look at this small kraft envelope with small box to the bottom left (pink background) that says: “Use this stamp to let us know your response today.”
Does this look familiar? You may have seen the real, live stamp packages. They’re often used for some higher end and monthly giving invitations. As the example above is a real live stamp, the package costs at least $0.55 more. Occasionally, I see them for animal organizations and veterans support organizations for all level donors.
Coming up with new ideas is difficult. Especially if you’re strapped for time or if you work in a small shop and you wear many hats. Don’t worry too much about having to come up with new ideas all the time.
Repurpose! Repurpose! People will not get upset if you send them something that worked a few years ago. People are not even going to get upset if you send them the same email that worked a few days ago. The package above is more than 30 years old, and the approach still works.
Relax over the holidays, and then take stock of “old” stuff and see what you can reuse. You’ll be ready to start the new year and the new decade off even better and more relaxed than ever before!
And if you are looking for monthly giving or direct mail samples over the past few years, I’ve got a huge scan file that I’m happy to share. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy 2020!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is author of the book "Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant." She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals.
She just co-authored the "Monthly Giving Starter and Marketing Kit" with Donor Perfect, and she’s working on her next book called "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving—in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and cat, Mientje.
You can reach Erica at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (508) 776-1224.