One Big Myth about Direct Mail Appeal Letters

Each time we hold our Direct Mail for Small Nonprofits E-clinic, Tom Ahern and I have to help the participants overcome their pre-conceived ideas of what makes a great direct mail appeal letter. And one of the biggest challenges is trying to convince our participants (and their team) that they do NOT have to keep their appeal letter to one page.

Here is a typical question we get about this subject (this particular question and Tom’s answer appeared on the Facebook Group for our November 2012 e-clinic):

How many pages long is your appeal, not including remittance? Anyone have great success with anything over 2 pages? Everyone on my team and especially the head of our agency is very afraid of anything over a page.

Tom’s answer:

I just had the pleasure of hanging for a few days with Australia’s top direct mail house, a world-class operation called Pareto. They were so proud: they had an 8-page direct mail appeal that broke records. I took photos. The one-page thing is a myth. It’s not an ideal or a model or viable or worth doing. It’s just short. The untrained love it. They’re totally wrong. But the length of the letter is NOT your primary concern … and boards often don’t see that. They ASSUME that a 1-page letter is the BEST. That a 2-page letter does worse. And a 4-page letter does even worse. And, OMG, are they ever WRONG!!!! Admittedly, it’s harder to write a 4-page letter that sustains interest; you have to have some serious skills to pull it off. But to assume that 1 page is better than 4 pages automatically is “magical thinking.” It’s just wrong.

We all like to think our instincts can guide us through our fundraising. But sometimes your gut instinct is just wrong and that’s when you need to turn to the experts like Tom who have proven their methods work over and over again.

That’s why we ask Tom to lead our Direct Mail for Small Nonprofits E-clinic - he knows direct mail copywriting like few others!

For two weeks, Tom is going to share his real-world experience beginning with two training webinars during the first week. Then, taking what you have learned from those webinars, you’ll draft (or revise) your own direct mail appeal letter and send it to Tom. During a series of coaching calls the following week, he’ll provide you with direct feedback on your letter, so you know exactly what you need to change to maximize the effectiveness of your letter.

During this clinic, Tom and I will talk about:

  • Options for developing your direct mail list
  • Reply devices
  • How to focus on the recipient
  • “Write drunk, edit sober”
  • Bulk mail or first class
  • “Fancy Pants” words you need to eliminate from your direct mail appeal

This online clinic is designed specifically for small nonprofits and in order to provide the personal attention needed, we limit the participants to 24 nonprofits. If you aren’t able to make it to a training session live, don’t worry! We will record all of the sessions so you can view them at your convenience.

So if you want to write better direct mail appeals that get the results you want, join us by registering now.

(All-Access Pass Holders, you save $100 off the registration fee for this e-clinic. Please see your All-Access Pass Dashboard for the special coupon code to enter at checkout. Not a Pass Holder? Sign up to get all of our weekly webinar series and e-books, plus discounts on e-clinics)

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