Standing out in the letter or email box – step 2 of three to a successful campaign

I’ve often written and spoken about the importance of standing out in the letter or email box. It is the second most important of the three critical steps to a successful campaign. Those three steps are:

  1. Getting your letter or email delivered to its intended recipients.
    • The importance of data hygiene.
  2. Standing out in the letter or email box.
    • Gaining the attention of the recipient so they open the letter or email.
  3. Motivating the recipient to respond to your call to action.
    • Writing a compelling story, which entices the reader to act.

If you do not get the piece delivered, you cannot advance to steps 2 and 3. Even if the piece is delivered, is it motivating to open?

Last week, I received this postcard in my letterbox. It stood out. Why? The language on the postcard asked me ignore the postcard and suggested it was indeed “junk mail”. This reminded me of a time when I created a similar piece for a hospital in Boston.

2004 – Near Firing

In 2004, my fundraising career was nearly cut short because I orchestrated the creation of this follow up piece to mail in the month of January – a dead month for US fundraising because many Americans cry poor after the Christmas season and the 31 December fiscal year end. We created this piece to follow up to the Christmas Appeal and to test whether the carrier was strong enough to motivate recipients to respond with an average gift of $40.

The outside envelope read “Original Letter Mailed 1 December 2004”.

About 6 nurses and physicians at the hospital were “offended” by the messaging on the outside carrier, suggesting the envelope implied there was a reminder enclosed for a hospital bill past due. I had not meant to mislead anyone nor was the teaser copy on the envelope anything but truthful. The nurses and physicians  voiced their opinions by saying the creative piece had cause people to open the envelope due to its mysterious nature.

The above feedback was a real win for me! Causing people to open the envelope  is exactly what I wanted the carrier to do – to stand out in the letterbox and to motivate people to open it to advance to step 3, above!

I was told if I produced a piece like this in the future I may be fired.

When the results showed the follow up wave raised more money than any appeal in the hospital’s history, the CEO and others changed their tune. In fact, I was allowed to repeat the appeal in 2005 and…the follow up appeal is still in place today some 13 years later!

Standing out in the letter box, once the piece is received, is critical. How else will you shine amongst the “noise”? mail