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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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25 things to keep in mind when you design any kind of marketing piece
Tom Ahern

September, 2009

Why are you writing your appeal letter? Keep these preconditions, realities, and attitudes in mind next time you pick up your pen.

I'm writing to you today because...

  1. I know I can get inside your home with a letter.
  2. I know who you are. (I.e., every name on my list is there for some good reason.)
  3. I know what makes this piece of mail special. (Every piece of mail has the potential to be an event in the recipient's life. In acquisition mode: by introducing them to a new group of like-minded, hard-working folks who cherish the donor's commitment. In renewal mode: by thanking the dickens out of people who have given a gift previously.)
  4. I know that most people throw away most of their non-personal mail most of the time. (So that's why personalization is so important.)
  5. I know that many people discard a piece of mail in 3 seconds or less. (My challenge: What intriguing thing can I do with my envelope to improve these lousy odds?)
  6. I know what you want (to feel needed and helpful).
  7. I know how important your support truly is. (I can honestly say that without you and other supporters this mission cannot succeed.)
  8. I know what I can promise you (real impact).
  9. I know a story you might like to hear.
  10. I know the purpose of my story is to make a point.
  11. I know that if I tell an interesting story this time, then next time you might welcome my envelope.
  12. I know if I ask there's a good chance you will give.
  13. I know I should ask repeatedly: upfront, in the middle, at the end.
  14. I know I must thank you for giving me your precious time.
  15. I know you might want to help needy people if I can show you an easy way.
  16. I know that a sense of urgency (there's a time to act, and that time is now) helps you move past your inertia (even if all I have on hand is mild urgency like "October is breast cancer awareness month").
  17. I know that if you do give, it's because you want to help.
  18. I know that every donor is a cause for celebration.
  19. I know my case makes sense.
  20. I know my case is focused.
  21. I know my case is easily understood.
  22. I know I've given you all the proof you need; too much, probably.
  23. I know you -- the donor, benefactor, investor, supporter -- are my hero.
  24. I know you will save my cause from despair.
  25. I know you are my teammate in this fight and that together we will win.

Takeaway: Keep these 25 things in mind as you craft your next direct mail appeal (or newsletter, annual report, email, or website for that matter). They are secrets to success.

By the way, "I am writing to you today because..." has long been the direct mail copywriter's default opening. If you're having a less-than-amazingly-creative day, you can always fall back on this standard opening to get your letter rolling.

Tom Ahern is just plain great! I could go on and on but - all you have to do is go to his website and see for yourself -


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