Hugg’s Monthly Tip: We need left and right.

Hugg's Monthly TipLeft leg, right leg. Right hand, left hand. Left eye, right eye. Right ear, left ear.

To function correctly, we need everything on the left and everything on the right. Without that symmetry, we compensate, and when we compensate we use a lot more energy to coordinate our efforts.

It’s the same with your messaging. Does your right letter know what your left email is doing?

Are your emails and postal mail coordinated? Yes, they’re different, but like our two hands, when working together they’re much more powerful than working alone. They need to look and sound like they’re coming from the same organization that has the same mission and concerns.

Yet like your hands, your emails and postal mail shouldn’t be clones of each other. One might be stronger than the other, and one could be favored. But as much as they differ, they can’t look like they come from different people.

Yet a lot of messaging does. Maybe different people were responsible for each? Did your boss want your “new media” to have a “new look,” while your paper is “traditional?”

The solution may be as simple as having the same design standards. It could be a meeting between “hands.” Regardless, now is the time to clap them together and to fix the problem. Paper and e-mail don’t do as well alone as they do as a team. The hands need to shake, and agree.

Hugg’s Monthly Tip: All they ever do is ask.

Hugg's Monthly TipAll they ever do is ask. How many times have you heard a donor say “all they ever do is ask for money…”?  To me, that’s music! Not because I write fundraising letters, but because too many organizations never ask enough. “We don’t want to offend our donors” they say (not you, of course, the nonprofit next door.)  The answer is not to ask less, but communicate more about other things. Often the problem is that while the development staff is cranking out solicitations, they’re not coordinated with the other parts of the organization that puts out news and information. So, this month, set a meeting with whoever is responsible for the rest of the information besides fundraising and set a schedule that asks for, and tells about your organization’s mission. It could be that no ask could be your best ask.

Worth Considering: Is your list broke?

Worth Considering from Matt HuggNot too long ago my son needed to pull an engine from a car. It’s a long story, but he was selling the car for parts, and he had a customer for his engine. How to get it out? Rent an engine hoist. Who would have guessed? You can rent just about anything these days – including a mailing list.

List rental – not buying – is a serious business in the direct mail world. If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, received a magazine, filled out an online survey, ordered from a paper or online catalogue or mailed in coupons for a “special offer” your name was added to a mailing list somewhere. Based on whatever transaction you initiated, someone (or some computer) has guessed that if you like that, you’ll like X, Y or Z, too. Your name, aggregated with hundreds or thousands of others who did the same as you, is its own commodity for rental – and thousands of businesses rent these lists every day.

As a nonprofit organization, why should you be interested in list rentals? Quite a few reasons, it turns out, including:

  • Increasing your database with more people like you already have
  • Attracting donors to new programs
  • Expanding into new areas

How do you get access to these names? Through a list broker.

List brokers have an interesting place in the list rental process. A good list broker has the experience to understand exactly what you are trying to accomplish – mailing to people with a certain interest or a certain set of addresses or certain interests within a certain address zone. But there’s more. List brokers have access to a variety of lists – not just one company’s list. This way they can “mix and match” for your best results. And the best part? The services of a list broker will not cost you any more than if you bought the lists directly from the list owner. List brokers get paid a commission by the list owner, and the owners don’t change you any less if you go to them directly.

But as exciting as this is, you need to know that most contracts cover one mailing with the set of names you rent. The good part is that the people who respond with gifts become part of your database permanently.

Yes, renting lists cost money. Given the typical one to three percent response on any direct mail program, the value in the list is in repeat gifts from the donors you get. Over several years, the gifts from the new names added to your database should more than pay for the costs of the list.

Of course, I’m biased. The more lists you rent and mailings you do, the more I can provide you copy for all of those letters. But whether you use my services or do the writing in-house, list rentals can be a great way to expand your database – and fund your mission – into areas you never thought possible.