5 Direct-Marketing Tactics to Maximize All Your Media
Some things we know:
- Direct mail brings in the lion's share of revenue for most organizations.
- E-mail is a strong but distant second.
- Social media's value lies in engaging the public, raising awareness, and generating passion-and-pass activism. But its actual ROI is still elusive.
- Conventional advertising can create emotion and put a human face on your organization, but results are hard to measure.
These are generally accepted facts. But they aren't immutable. In fact, they're "merge-able."
So, what if we took some of the tested and proven strengths of direct marketing and applied them to the other media you use? Sound interesting? Good. Here are five things you can do to get started:
- Put easy contact information in everything, especially print ads. If you think that sounds obvious, look around. It's not happening as often (or as automatically) as you might think. Usually it's because marketing/communications departments think about brand and message more than they think about response. Tear down those silos! Then, for everything you print, add an 800-number and a short, easy-to-type URL that goes straight to your donation page.
- Make each medium accountable. Fortunately, every online donor interaction is easy to track. Unfortunately, this huge benefit is often underutilized. Google Analytics will do most of the work for you. For free. So if you're not taking advantage of it, start now. And if you are, develop protocols for analyzing trends that are tailored to the data you need.
- Target. There are times you can personalize (in direct contacts like e-mail, for example) and times you can't (mass communications like print and social). But you can always make sure your message matches the medium ... and all the other media you're using in the same time frame, of course.
- Don't sound like an institution. Prospects and donors want to help people, not organizations. This is especially true of baby boomers, who have a historic mistrust of institutions. Take a look at the casual language in your most successful mail packages. See the short words. The sentence fragments ... and the offbeat punctuation that ties ideas together? That's the voice you want wherever possible. Remember: You're not talking down to people. You're making their busy lives easier.
- Tell a compelling story. If you have an actual story — an event you can share about someone you helped or some way you made a difference in a specific situation — you're way ahead of the game. Even if you don't though, the story of what you do can be made compelling if it's told in human terms and not "insider-speak." Be a person talking to a person.
The ability to manage and measure response is what sets direct marketing apart from advertising. Make the most of that difference. Print and online have the power to let imagery and minimal copy create strong emotional responses. So use their advertising power to get attention. Then use the power of direct marketing to get results.
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.