What Happens When You Think Direct
Imagine this full-page print ad:
A woman dressed in old, ill-fitting clothes stares mournfully into the camera. In her lap she holds an infant. Seated on her knee is a hollow-eyed girl in a thin dress. Like the mother, she makes eye contact with the reader, and in her eyes is a plea for help.
The headline reads: "Touching Lives Every Day"
Below and to the left is a paragraph of copy explaining how the organization reaches out to people in need and provides programs that can put them on the road to a better life.
To the right is the logo.
Most readers will glance at the photo, notice the logo, and maybe later they'll remember this is a wonderful organization that helps people in need. It's a strong message and raises plenty of positive awareness.
The only problem is that it leaves the reader empty-handed. She likes the organization now, but what is she to do about it?
So, let's make two small changes.
Now you see the same photo of the mother and children, same logo on the right, same block of copy on the left.
But now the headline reads: "Where will they sleep tonight?"
And at the bottom of the ad is an 800-number.
Suddenly the reader is no longer a passive observer. He or she is involved. There's an urgent question about the little family's immediate needs. And like the photo, it's directed straight at the reader.
And, with the addition of the 800-number, she is a lot more than just involved. She is empowered.
The headline implies she should do something to help the family find a place to sleep. It also says it needs to be done now, because this family will be facing its crisis tonight. The phone number tells her what to do, how to do it and makes it easy for her to take action.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.