In the past few days, I’ve seen numerous blogs that have focused on the fundamentals of great direct response and direct mail. And I will share them with you in the days ahead. But today I wanted to start with the most recent of these.
I’ve been working on direct mail for about 20 years now and I STILL lie awake at night thinking about the outer envelope. The joke I use in presentations is that even if you had the most wonderful letter, written by God himself – if the envelope didn’t work and the donor didn’t open it – it would all be for nothing. So… the design and thoughtfulness you put into your direct mail envelope is so important. And yet, most I see look like an afterthought or worse.. no thought.
#1 The best teaser for your next appeal is: nothing. As Jeff and Steven say, that should be your baseline. Your default. In testing, more often than not, no teaser will be any other teaser. So – there is your safe starting point. A logo, a return address and indicia statistically speaking, will be just fine.
#2 Mystery works. Less IS more! How can you make your donor wonder? Jeff shares how he once put an image of a coffee ring on an outer and it worked better than no coffee ring. It just makes no sense – which is why – it can work. Steven shared the example of a lumpy pack.. it’s tactile. The donor feels immediately – this is something different.
#3 Weird stock. Stock with flecks in it or stock that looks like lunch bag (which became quite a cliché there for a while…). Stock with ridges, very bright stock, some sort of pattern – these things work.
#4 Teasers that feature a “great deal“. Matching offers or an amazing deal like $1 = 3 meals… those are great deals. Donors love them. (Steve counters that bad deals suck and will not make your envelope openable. A bad deal is something that is too normal or gives the whole pack away.)
#5 Things that work that surprise us that they work. The examples they shared were the use of the words “Annual Fund”. I personally have ranted about my dislike of the words “Annual Appeal” or “Annual Fund” since these were created by agencies to somehow automize giving. BUT! They still might work for your organization. Using the words “Gift Enclosed” when you have indeed included some sort of gift. We use that idea when we have included a newsletter or member card. Tell your donor there is something inside just for them!
I invite you to listen to their whole podcast here. It’s brilliant and worth your time.
Coming next: Fundamentals: How often should we mail our donors? Stay tuned.