Stand Proud and Don't Let the Direct-Mail Naysayers Get You Down
2. Know your target audience
Who is reading and responding to your direct mail? I don't mean responding by complaining; I mean giving donations as a result (even if they choose to give online after being prompted by direct mail). Chances are your colleagues, board members and volunteers who hate direct mail aren't your audience. So practice listening, nodding and then continuing to do what you know works.
3. Remember that another way to improve net income is to raise more money — not just spend less
It's easy to penny-pinch on direct mail, and that's why a lot of mail truly is a waste. Poorly written copy that is all about the organization instead of the donor is a bad investment, even if the only cost is staff time. Design that doesn't take into consideration proven techniques for improving response is simply destined to end up in a landfill. Failure to invest in finding the stories and photos that make a compelling case is the path to poverty.
I still see some nonprofit mail that looks a lot like what I sent out in the 1980s. It's tough to break through the mailbox clutter; it can be nearly impossible when your mailing arrives in a No. 10 white window envelope. Look at what others are mailing. Check out Who's Mailing What. Give to other nonprofits so you get their mail. Then make sure your direct mail is truly outstanding in a stack of mail.
Direct mail will perform better for you if you invest in it. You may end up spending a little more, but if you can raise a lot more, isn't it worth it?
4. Mail smart
"More" is not necessarily better when it comes to selecting who receives your letter. Yes, the cost per mail piece is lower, but you are potentially wasting money on people who are not likely to respond. On the other hand, not mailing to other donors because they are "special" is a bad idea unless you have a great system in place to give them superior treatment outside the direct-mail program.