What’s in my Mailbox | The personal touch

December 9, 2015


How much direct mail communications do I come across on a regular basis? You guessed it. A lot. Still, the most recent direct mail piece from Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection managed to delight, inspire, and deeply resonate with me, and it all began with the envelope.

What’s the first rule of direct mail?

Get your envelope opened! Whenever I’m working on a direct mail campaign, I always envision my prospect sorting their mail like I do — right over the trash. There are many ways of creating an enticing envelope, from teasers to uniquely sized envelopes, but one of my favorites, especially for small shops, is through the use of handwritten envelopes.

It all started with the envelope, hand-addressed to yours truly. This small act takes a little extra time and care, and yet they took the opportunity to provide a personal touch. In fact, earlier in November, I received the Coalition’s enewsletter, featuring the invitation to join their ‘mailing party.’  As a result, the envelope stood out from all the rest in my stack.

Then, there’s the letter. Where do I begin? Well, there’s a few things…

1. Three little handwritten notes, all addressed to me, Pamela. There are two on the front, and one on the back, and that lends the entire letter a personalized touch. A printed signature (in this case, from the Executive Director, Caroline) always adds something “extra,” too.

2. There’s an established relationship between their most recent enews and their most recent direct mail letter. Kathleen Kennedy, Program & Development Coordinator, put out an email call for volunteers earlier in the month in the Coalition’s enews. She explained:

“We actually had a fantastic turn-out for our mailing party. 17 volunteers helped us put the mailing together in just over 2 hours, including hand-addressing over 700 envelopes. Sometimes we send out that kind of announcement only to our segmented “volunteer” list but we decided this time to include it in a larger e-alert to our whole list. I think that really helped bring in some new volunteers.”

3. The ask couldn’t be more direct. It includes options of $50, $100, $250, $500, or more, and also mentions their new $10,000 matching gift program, which ties into their campaign goal of $50,000. Laying out a concrete goal, as well as providing updates on progress, is a terrific way to inspire enthusiastic giving.

4. How donations will impact programs in 2016 is explained in just enough detail. The letter covers four specific areas: the launch of a new stewardship program to protect wildlife crossings, the expansion of a volunteer project, continued advocacy for a conservation plan to protect wildlife, and developing new strategies for open space protection.

5. The specificity of the language targets a very specific audience who cares about CSDP’s mission and the work that they engage in, and want to help continue to make their positive change a reality.

6. There’s a P.S. post-signature, which emphasizes the importance of each individual and his or her gift, reinforcing that CSDP can only flourish and go forward with continued donor support.

What’s clear from all of these amazing moves, from the inbox to the mailbox? CSDP values their donors (and volunteers), aims to speak directly to them, and is on point in both email and direct mail communications.

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