Don’t Be Proud

This is a great email from Drayton Bird:

When David drafted Ogilvy on Advertising he sent the manuscript to Joel and wrote “Kindly improve.”

The moral: always get someone else to look at your stuff. (I usually ask Al, who is a very good judge).

On one occasion, but only one, I edited some copy David wrote. He was very cunning – he sent it via someone else, who asked me “Could you look at some copy we’re thinking of running for the World Wildlife Fund”.

I was quite critical of one thing. Then I was astounded when the great man rang me and said “That was my copy – and you are right.”

The moral: don’t be proud.

If you’d like to know precisely what I said to David – where I quote his exact words – I tell the story in my second copywriting video.

In the first video, however, I do tell you what qualities David Ogilvy thought made a good copywriter – and who am I to disagree?

And who am I to disagree with Drayton Bird! / / / /

Don’t say thanks before someone does something!

I was sent a piece of mail during the week from a charity that I had supported before. I thought it was going to be a lovely update mailing on what impact my donation had made. Why did I think that? Well there was a massive thank you on the outside of the envelope.

I was really disappointed then to find the envelope contained not an update, or anything thanking me, instead in contained tickets for me to sell.

To be honest I dont mind selling the tickets, I know it works for them and I know they are a good charity. But it kind of annoyed me that they would say thanks before I agreed to do the selling. It seemed to be making a presumption that I was going to do this work for them.

I think they are right to use the outside of the envelope to encourage me to open the mailing, but in this instance I think they used the space really badly and actually were kind of sneaky in how they got me to continue to engage with them. it certainly didnt leave me with a “warm and fuzzy” feeling about them.

What do you think? Am I being unfair?

When DM comes through your door

….what happens? Well Daniel Jaszczak posted on his blog last week about his thoughts on a pack that came in from Cancer Research UK. I think its a really interesting post, and so Daniel said I could re post it. My only observation, outside of Daniels, was that it seemed to talk a lot about the organisation and not a huge amount about the donor! Anyway here is Daniels post:

This came through my letter box … Cancer Research UK

I might be strange but I actually love when we get cold mailing materials from charities through our letter box. It happened again today 🙂

To make someone, you don’t know much about, open unaddressed envelope can be tricky. I have to say that what Cancer Research UK wrote here, could give me the impression that they don’t care if I put it in the bin either. But let’s move on.

The appeal letter itself reads very well (apart from first paragraph which has font in two colours and some headlining). The copy addresses me all the time and therefore it feels personal. Good size font will make it easy to read for anyone.

First part tries to connect to reader. Straight away there is a “thank you” for not throwing it away and reading on. It mentions financial crisis and explains that also big charity like Cancer Research UK has been affected.

CR UK asks for only £2 a month and straight away assures me that this little amount would mean a lot to them. That is followed by quick breakdown of their work.

Next part of the letter tells me a bit about CR UK achievements over years and shows cancer statistics that only back up the need for their work.

Last part is a call to action. “Let’s stand up and fight this disease”. It nicely and rightly asks me not to delay filling in the form as it might end up on the pile of paperwork.It is signed by the Head of Fundraising. There is a post scriptum explaining to the existing donors why they might have received this as well.

The donation form surprised me quite a bit as it only allows me to set up Standing Order and not Direct Debit. There is also Gift Aid form on it. It is attached to the letter but perforation makes it easy to detach. It’s easy to post as there is also Freepost envelope in the pack.

All in all I enjoyed this door drop from Cancer Research UK. I wasn’t interested by the envelope but the letter copy was in my humble opinion very well written. I a bit disappointed with little choice when it comes to making a donation but the donation form itself is clean and easy to use.

I am looking forward to more mailings and I hope you understand that didn’t write this to criticise but just to share my “user experience”.

Decision Paralysis

I am a big advocate for directing donors, some people I work with prefer to let the donor decide their action. Whenever I hear that I worry!

Just as bad as no choices are offering too many choices. I recently saw a fundraising campaign which was very focussed in terms of call to action and timing and it has moved to a broader call to action and a “do it when you like” timing.

I would love to know how it’s going? My guess is not as well previous years.

Even giving donors a few choices leads to decision paralysis. Anyone who has read the Heath brothers book “Switch” will have read their example of the research carried out on doctors by Redelmeier & Shafir. In their research they gave one group of docs 2 choices, operate or try a new medication, 47% opted to try the new meds hoping to avoid an operation for their patient. However when another group was given 3 options, operate or 2 new meds, a whopping 72% chose to operate! The more options they had caused them to freeze and retreat to default, operate. For us, a donor default is to not donate! So guide the donor, don’t confuse them, don’t give them decision paralysis.

You are making the ask, so ask!

Amnesty’s “Read it or Bin It” insert – follow up from Amnesty

I posted a few weeks ago about the insert in the UK papers that Amnesty did called Read it or Bin it (you can read that post here).

I asked a few questions in the post and got a really nice response from Fiona McLaren, Amnesty’s Online Communities Editor. She told me that the team werent able to share any stats (always disappointed with that) but were happy to share some of the insight into how the campaign came about, thought you may be interested to read what they had to say

“The ‘bin it’ creative was produced specifically for the insert marketplace. Learning from other successful creatives suggested that less can be more with inserts and that we should try to get the reader to the point of the ask very quickly. So it was designed to explain the work of Amnesty International in a very short, simple and engaging way. It was first tested in Feb 2010 and out-performed, both in terms of response rate and ROI, two other test pieces. We are now rolling it out to insert media we have used successfully in the past including newspapers like The Guardian, Observer, Scotland on Sunday, The Independent and Indy on Sunday and periodicals like The Week, New Statesman, Big Issue and Time Out. At the moment, we have no plans to use the creative in other acquisition mediums but we will see how the roll out campaign works before considering other acquisition activity.” – Alistair Baggs, Senior Direct Marketing Coordinator

Top Charities know what buttons to push

This is the title of a page from the An Post website where three Irish Charities share their insights into Direct Marketing. The presentations are all on the site, free to download. Worth taking a look

You can find them here


I don’t think there is anything wrong in incentivizing people to donate, but you need to be careful that the incentive isnt the motive for the donation, especially when its just a pledge based thing (ie pledge to donate now and you could win X). In their recent editorial Nudge, nudge, Chink, chink, nfpsynergy suggest that a nice incentive increases the average direct debit size.

If you are smart about your incentives they will also continue to work for you, continue to spread the word about your organisation and make the person who donates feel proud that they are one of your supporters. I love wearing the hoody of my favourite charity out and about, I take pride in the fact that I support them. Let your incentives do this job for you.

Another interesting way to work an incentive, that I saw to great effect recently, is to send it back to the person who the donation is being made for. Let me explain. Working on an appeal recently we encouraged people to make a donation and if it was over a certain amount we would then send a teddy bear, with their name on it, to a child who would benefit (in this case, sick in hospital).

The gut reaction for things like that is to reward the donor, send them the teddy, and yes there is merit in that. But this was a really great way to turn the incentive on its head. I took calls from donors who just loved the fact that we were sending a teddy with their name on it to a child. It was happening that day and the donors were able to check out the impact of the gift through audio and online (i would love to have had pictures of the children with the teddy from each donor sent to the donor….but not sure that is possible).

Whatever you decide to do with your incentives, make sure they continue to work for you, because they do work