Monthly Archives: July 2012

7 steps to an eye-catching, emotional, informational email message

When you market via email, you face two big problems. Will it catch your donor’s attention? Will it move them to action? An email is very easy to delete. What can you do to keep them reading your message?

Use this 7-step email format when you write an informational message.  It will be easier for you to write and for your donor to read.

How many times have you stared at the computer screen, fingers poised above the keyboard and your head so full of ideas – BUT YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START?

Try placing your information in the following 7 areas  and the process will be easier.

#1 Header – Your headline is the first and most important item. Give them a reason to continue to read. Here is a blog post that gives some good advice on writing a header.    http://bit.ly/ekyBfE

#2 Opener – Remember that your goal is to get your reader to continue reading – to go to the next step in the formula. Use these 3-4 sentences to get to tell them your exciting news and to get them to continue reading to learn more.

#3 Image –  Put the image side-by-side with the opener. This will make the first content they read only half of a line of text so that it isn’t intimidating or a barrier to reading.  It’s been shown that people are more likely to read shorter lines of text.

#4 – Point of Interest – Add some spark to your email with a pertinent quote or a statement. Make it a different font, size or color.

#5 Content – Here is where you put your main information. This is a great place to add emotion.  If they feel something about what you’re describing, they are more likely to take action.

#6 Sub-header – This is a promise to your reader that there is more interesting information to come.

#7 Wrap-up and call to action. It may be used to drive them to your website or to subscribe to your emails or social media.

This email layout has been a great help in our work. I hope it works for you!

One sure-fire way to alienate your customer

I received an email yesterday with the greeting, “Dear Valued Customer.”

This came from a vendor advertising their new Summer/Fall Catalogue. Less than a month ago, I registered on this vendor’s website – gave them my name, address, phone, company name – everything but my blood type. I talked to the President of the company on the phone. We made an appointment to talk about buying their product in December. And yet a few weeks later my new best friends write …

Dear Valued Customer!

Really?!

This was a good reminder to me of how crucial it is in fundraising to personalize your message. Customer or donor – it’s all about relationship, relationship, relationship.

The only thing worse than a Dear Friend letter is spelling the name wrong. A certain publication that shall remain nameless (but to which most of us in development subscribe) has just started emailing me with the greeting “Dear Connie.” I’m fascinated. I can’t wait to see how long they keep this up.

Your donors or customers want to feel that you know them, your business matters to them and you would miss them if they were gone.

Here are 3 easy ways to personalize your message and retain your donor:

  1. Mail merge your solicitation whether it is a letter or email. Technology exists out there to help you with this. Your printer can personalize your mailing. E-mail marketing firms personalize your emails to your donors.
  2. Use your database to its full potential. Do random checks to make certain that you have the correct names in the correct places.  Keep a record of all contact with your donor and enter notes into the database.
  3. Expand the personalization. Find ways to use a personal touch. In letters to your donors, mention a last gift. In reports to them, tell them what impact their donation made. When you call to thank them for their gifts, reference your last conversation.

Finally, when you email or text your donor or customer – don’t call her Connie if her name is Jolynn. It’s just too easy for her to hit the delete button.

 

Building Donor Relationships – one tweet at a time.

Here’s a classical frustrating moment in Fundraising: Have you ever heard this from a board member?

“If only we were better known! If people knew who we are – they’d give to us.”

Here’s another one: “We are the best kept secret in [insert state, city or category].”

We know that fundraising is about building relationships. As fundraisers, we are, often as not, trying to accomplish that one person at a time. How can we expand that effort?

Recently, a volunteer told me that I could take a lesson in “PR” from Coca Cola, “…a company known ALL OVER THE WORLD, Jolynn!”

Do you want to know why?! Coca Cola’s marketing budget is currently around the $11 billion mark. I could get a lot of awareness and catchy tag lines if my marketing budget was… well, it can’t be helped. And, they are right. We need awareness.

So what can we do? Here one quick idea around social media and awareness:

If your board members, volunteers and staff have facebook pages or twitter accounts – you can work on a campaign of word of mouth advertising.

Ask your board, your volunteer support group and your staff to take 5 minutes to put a message up on their wall. This isn’t about fundraising, it’s about sharing the mission of the organization. They would be acting as ambassadors, not solicitors. Provide the message – maybe in a couple of different forms – to your ambassadors.

An example would be:

I work (volunteer) for such a great organization. ABC Charity just won a prestigious award for outstanding research and I couldn’t be more proud. They are saving childrens’ lives! Go here to see a great story.

(The link must land on some quality content on the ABC Charity website.)

Provide a message to them once every couple of weeks. Again – drive them to your website where you have some fabulous content for them to see!

It’s an easy way to encourage engagement on your website, participation by your supporters and awareness of your cause.

A real-life example of how this works:

In a recent meeting with a great board member, I was going over his portfolio of contacts to determine strategies for approaching them. We were stuck on two – one is a well-known radio personality. The other was in the entertainment business – again, well-known. My volunteer was hesitant to approach either of them for donations. I quickly changed tack. Do they have twitter accounts? We looked them up and they do – with quite a few followers. How about asking them to tweet a message from us when we have something great to share? My board member loved the idea and was perfectly willing to do this.

Of course, we hope that while they are tweeting out our message, they get to know us and will be ready to attend events, go on tours and become supporters.

Isn’t it nice that we have so many options open to us now, fellow fundraisers? Social media and content marketing is a great way to build relationships.  So get out there, label your campaign, enlist your volunteers and send out your message!

Working with your Board – one quick tip for orientation or a retreat.

Remember elevator speeches? How often have you drilled your staff or your board on condensing your mission, vision, purpose or case into a 30-second mouthful? Well, in today’s world of short messages and even shorter attention spans – 30 seconds is too long.

I got this tip from Warren Riley of NPO Solutions at breakfast last week in Pasadena. He held a retreat for a board and after all the hours of orientation and reams of material – he asked them to sum it all up … in a tweet!

What a great idea. I loved it. Not only do you get your best fundraisers and ambassadors – your board members – sitting around parsing through your mission, but you also get to teach the less progressive ones about twitter.

Tweet at the retreat. Sweet!