THE LIBERTARIAN              PARTYS SUCCESS 99                                                    *                   2600...
theyre not going to read it anyway.                tions made below will allow you to write a good                        ...
Then you describe your plan, and address              In addition, there are nine techniquesall anticipated concerns and q...
"Introduction to Libertarianism"   at the Holi-      "artificial stop" in it. For instance ... day Inn on Beale Street.   ...
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Direct Mail Fundraising

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Direct Mail Fundraising

  1. 1. THE LIBERTARIAN PARTYS SUCCESS 99 * 2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100 Washington DC 20037 * (202) 333-0008 * www.LP.org Direct Mail Techniques to make your direct mail letters raise more money There are three myths about direct mail their members 52 times a year. Thats once afundraising ... week. They wouldnt be doing that if it wasnt profitable, and people wouldnt be giving 1. Fundraising is begging enough to make it profitable unless they were 2. You can do it too often geting personal satisfaction from it. The na- 3. People dont read long letters tional LP mails fundraising letters about once a month. We would do it more often if we had Fundraising isnt begging. Standing on more immediate ability to effect public policy asthe sidewalk and harassing people for money is the Republicans can. And as we gain thatbegging. Fundraising is the act of describing ability, you can bet that well start to mail moresomething that needs to be done, saying how often, as the market dictates.much it costs, and asking people if they valuethe proposed project enough to help pay for it. Personal opinions about how short orIf they dont value it, they wont give. If they long a letter has to be in order for people todo, they will. Its just like any other economic read it are worthless. What matters is what theexchange. People wont pay for what they dont market tells us. And the market says long letterswant, In addition, direct mail is passive. People tend to work better. This has been confirmed byget to decide, in the comfort of their own home, so many split-list tests that, as a general propo-whether or not they want to give. No one is sition, its no longer even debated. However, itsstanding over them with a gun. If you arent important to understand some of the reasonsdoing direct mail fundraising then you should why longer letters tend to do better. To under-be. You have projects you want to do that other stand this, we have to understand the differentpeople will also want to see done. Give them the kinds of people who read direct mail.chance to help. There are four types of people who read Only the market can determine whether direct mail ...or not you are asking for money too often. Ifyou start to raise less and less money from each 1. Those who dont read it at all, but throwappeal, then youre asking for money too often. it right in the trash.If youre raising more and more money with each 2. Those who read just the beginning andappeal, then maybe you should try asking more the ending of a letter.often. If the amount of money you raise is fairly 3. Those who skim the highlights.consistent, then youre probably asking for 4. Those who read the entire letter.money just about the right amount of times. • For people who throw direct mail in the trash The Republicans mail fundraising letters to the length of a letter doesnt matter, because
  2. 2. theyre not going to read it anyway. tions made below will allow you to write a good fundraising letter.• For those who read just the beginning and the end, the length of the letter doesnt matter, There are two cornerstones to a good because theyre only reading the beginning fundraising letter ... and the end, so the number of pages in between is irrelevant. 1. The unique sales proposition (USP) 2. The complete sales argument• For those who just skim the highlights, the more highlights you have, the more opportuni- Before you start to write a fundraising ties you provide to either close the sale on the letter, you should try to figure out what it is basis of your highlighted points, or to con- about the project you will be proposing that will vince them to sit down and read the letter as a be uniquely valuable to your contributors. This whole. unique selling proposition will provide the substance for your appeal.• And for those who are so interested in your organization that they will read the letter as a The second thing you should try to do is whole, the more sales points you can make, figure out all of the questions and concerns that the more likely you are to convince them to contributors might have about your project. This give. Therefore, your letter should be as long will allow you to construct a complete sales as is required to include every positive sales argument. It is the number and nature of the point that you can think of. concerns and questions you will have to address that will tend to make your letter longer rather There are two types of direct mail than shorter.letters ... A good fundraising letter has five parts. 1. Fundraising 2. Prospecting 1. Progress 2. Plans (or the project description) A fundraising letter is any letter that is 3. The request for moneymailed to people who have already qiven you 4. The remindermoney in the past. Its almost impossible to lose 5. The postscriptsmoney on a mailing of this kind. Its very important to build continuity A prospecting letter is any letter that is between your fundraising letters. You want themailed to people who have never given you letter you write this month to refer to the lettermoney before. Its almost impossible to make you wrote last month, and point to the lettermoney on this kind of letter. Prospecting letters you plan to write next month. You do this byare valuable only in terms of the future income using a "plans and progress" approach.you will receive from any new contributors todiscover. You begin by reporting the progress you have made with regard to the plans you de- Good prospecting letters are much harder scribed last month.to write than good fundraising letters. Doing sowill be beyond the ability of most local organi- You continue by explaining how thatzations until they are large enough to hire progress relates to the plans (projects) you areprofessional copy writers. However, the sugges- going to talk about this month. ~ i ,
  3. 3. Then you describe your plan, and address In addition, there are nine techniquesall anticipated concerns and questions. that will enhance the readability of your letter ... Then you describe how much the project isgoing to cost and ask for the money to pay for 1 . Invincible questionsit. The best way to ask for money is to list a 2. Bulleted itemswhole series of contribution amounts, from high 3. Foreshadowing (or teasing)to low, so that the reader will be able to see that 4. Short paragraphsthe amount they have in mind will be of value 5. Broken paragraphs and broken sentencesto the project. This has been tested over and 6. "Stopped" sentencesover again - if you dont list a series of 7. Widowsamounts then the reader wonders whether the 8 Contractionsamount they have in mind will really help, and 9. Clichesthey tend to not give. You want to begin the letter with some- After youve asked for the money you thing that draws the reader in, and makes themremind them about what youve accomplished in want to read further. Invincible questions arethe past due to their support and express the good for this purpose. An invincible question ishope that they will be able to help you again, so any rhetorical question which you can bethat you can take the next step forward. Then certain your reader will answer in a positive way,you thank them and sign the letter. and which will tend to excite their curiosity about the contents of the letter. The invincible Then you include two PSs. The PSs are for question will tend to foreshadow your uniquethe people who tend only to read the beginning selling proposition.and the end of a direct mail letter. Therefore,you will want to try to recapitulate your sales A good second step is to then list all ofargument, in miniature and, if possible, do it in your recent progress, using quick bulleted items,such a way that they are teased to go back and and, while doing so, foreshadow, or tease aboutread the letter as a whole. In the second PS, you your project, or unique selling proposition: Thiswill want to remind them of your deadline in should be easy, since at least some of yourorder to create a sense of urgency that they progress will have set the stage, in some sense,should send their check right away. This is also for what you want to propose.the point at which you remind them about any"premiums" you may be offering, and tell them Examplethat they will be sent just as soon as you gettheir contribution. • Since we last wrote to you we have ten differ- ent info booths and collected over 100 names A note on premiums: You will want to keep of new prospects. Keep reading and Ill tell youthe total cost of fulfilling a premium to 6% of what were going to do with these prospects.the gift that is required to receive that pre-mium. By far the best kind of premium is what Then, when you get to the part of theis called an "identity" premium, which is any- letter where you want to describe your project,thing which serves to make the contributor feel it might look like this ...good about having contributed. A good exampleof this would be to put their name on a plaque • Remember those prospects I told you about atthat will be displayed either in your headquar- the beginning of the letter? Welt wed liketers, if you have one, or at your public meetings. your help in recruiting them as members of the party. To do that were going to hold an
  4. 4. "Introduction to Libertarianism" at the Holi- "artificial stop" in it. For instance ... day Inn on Beale Street. The man walked into the room. (You now When you have laid out the basic skeleton know that a man has walked into a room, butof your letter - your progress, your plans, your youre led to wonder why.)request for money, your reminder, and yourpostscripts - you will then go back and work to He walked over to the table and picked upenhance the readability of your letter still the gun that was lying there. (You know thatfurther. theres a gun, but you dont know why, and youre led to keep reading).• You will add more bulleted items where pos- sible. He looked at the gun for a moment and then put it to his head. (The tension is built up• You will add more foreshadowing and teasing slowly but surely, so that you have more and where possible. more information, but are left with questions. Each "stopped" sentence answers a previous• You will make sure that most or all of your question and then asks another - why is the paragraphs take up no more than three lines man putting the gun to his head?) each. • Next, you will make sure than no page of your• You will make sure you have a line of white letter ends with a finished thought. You will space in between paragraphs. create "widows" (sentences that are continued on the next page) to make sure that the reader• If you need to break paragraphs in two in order has to turn the page in order to get the to keep them to three lines you will do so. completed thought.• In order to heighten tension you will want to • Finally, you will go back through your letter create unnatural breaks in your longer para- and use contractions wherever possible. Cant, graphs, so that your last sentence ends with instead of cannot. This will make the letter an ellipses ... more friendly and personal. You will not, not, not worry overly much about grammar, be- ... so that the sentence contin- cause you want your letter to sound like ues after a line of white space spoken speech. But you do, do, do want your and centered the way this one is writing to be clear, clear, clear. (the centered text containing the significant part of the sentence). • Do not be afraid of using cliches. Cliches are universally understood, and can communicate This is a form of highlight, so your point much quicker than long exposi- that important points dont get tions. Your letter should be built for speed. lost in the blur of words, and your skimmers can pick them out from the rest of the text.• You will then look for sentences that you can [By Perry Willis] shorten or break into two. There is a tech- nique used by novelists that can be of help here. Its caned creating a sentence with an

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