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The Mail Pack Strikes Back

Direct Mail, Fundraising

Adrian Salmon

on 25 September 2015

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Transcript of The Mail Pack Strikes Back

Episode VII: The Mail Pack Strikes Back
Let's have a quick go round the room
on DM response rates....
Wow - so everybody's struggling/doing really well*
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Well this is where we were in 2011:

Do you ever feel like this when it's time to
send your direct mail appeal?
The red is the phone
The blue is mail
So we decided to try and fix it, and appoint a creative agency.
Pros and cons of working with an agency:

You know your institution, but they know what works for many

Have you the budget?

Are you set up to service the relationship?

Can you actually get their work approved?
How did we find the right agency?

HINT - don't discount social media!
The briefing sets the tone:

We did two days of briefing - an entire induction programme for the agency

If you are doing this yourself, why not plan yourself a briefing as if you were the agency?
The Technique Bit -
some things that may or may not surprise you...

• Long copy sells
• Repetition works
• ‘Ugly’ or to be kinder, ‘inside track’, trumps ‘good-looking’ or ‘designed’
• Serif fonts far outperform sans serif fonts
• You must always have a deadline
• Ask often. At least 3 times in the letter, once at the beginning, once in the middle and once at the end, ideally in the PS
• The most important part of a direct mail letter is probably the PS
• If you have a brochure in your existing pack, ditch it and make the letter longer
• Direct mail appeals are most often killed by HIPPOS
A simple approach - based on what alumni and donors care about:
Rule No 1 - the donor is the hero. Always.
Oh, and actually don't do this:
Rule of thumb - only alumni aged 50+ are likely to respond to your mailings. Here are our stats:

So what did the pack look like?
You are the fundraiser
You are the expert
Not the signatory
Make it clear that you will accept factual corrections,
but nothing else
If all else fails - take back letter and sign it yourself
Don't let the 'highest paid person's opinion' wreck your fundraising
It's often a good idea to interview the letter signatory, make an accurate transcript, and use as many of their words as possible in the copy.

That way, if they don't like something, you can say, "Those are your words, and I thought they were perfect."

But remember - the only person whose approval really counts on your pack is....

More income in 12 weeks than in the previous 8 years' worth of mail put together

700% increase on most recent direct mail appeal

“General Kenobi,

Years ago, you served my father in the Clone Wars; now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire.

I regret that I am unable to present my father's request to you in person; but my ship has fallen under attack and I'm afraid my mission to Alderaan has failed.

I've placed information vital to the survival of the rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it.

You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan.

This is our most desperate hour.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you're my only hope.”

"Nostalgia - it's delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, "nostalgia" literally means "the pain from an old wound."

It's a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone... it takes us to a place where we ache to go again... back home again, to a place where we know we are loved."

Don Draper, Mad Men

A bit more about 'inside track'
"Our advertisements need to look as if they were put together by two old ladies in an attic, using scissors and glue".

Harold Sumption, legendary head of fundraising for Oxfam
But you've got a big budget, haven't you?
Size matters not.

All these techniques are about genuine personal connection - the Force, if you like, between you and your donors

You can do them very cheaply
And there are many Yodas out there whose wisdom learn from, you can....
This is 'on brand'
And this is 'inside track'
The inside track insert beat the on-brand insert by a factor of three.
How we've done inside track
So did the VC love our new-look pack?
Inside track works because:

It looks immediate and urgent

It looks as if you haven't spent too much on it

It connects the donor directly to the beneficiaries
Here are a few of my favourite Rebel Alliance members....
So that's it from me, but hopefully we won't end it like this...
Thank you!

And remember: the Force will be with you, always.

For more Star Wars fundraising goodness, visit Agents of Good's brilliant Direct Mail 101 series:




How everything looks now
Full transcript