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Calendar Year-End

Calendar Year-End Prep: The 4 C’s of Direct Mail Appeals

You may be familiar with the 4 P’s of Marketing (or in some cases, the 7 P’s of Marketing), but have you heard of the 4 C’s of Direct Mail Appeals? In this day in age, acronyms and slogans get created and tossed around everywhere, so let’s break down what BCG Connect’s 4 C’s of direct mail appeals are. The 4 C’s are used to describe what your calendar year-end direct mail appeal (and every other appeal for that matter) should aim to be, which is: Creative, Clear, Compelling, and Concise.

Calendar year-end fundraising mail will be flocking mailboxes all over the world. From year-end appeals, to renewal appeals, to acquisition mailings, it’s critical to have your appeal stand out in that crowded mailbox.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the 4 C’s of direct mail appeals to improve the effectiveness of your calendar year-end appeal:

CREATIVE: What makes your organization unique? Why should someone donate to your organization over a different organization? Having creative elements makes your message appealing and draws the recipient in. Whether it is a standard letter or a self-mailer, it’s key to have creative elements to it. What defines the creative elements that are in the appeal? Well, you should first identify and focus on your target audience(s) and know as much as possible about those people – this helps with the creative process of developing a piece that connects, communicates, and engages each segment.

CLEAR: It’s important to be clear. That’s a very general statement, so being “clear” has been broken down into three categories:

  • Clear with whom you are talking to: is your direct mail appeal segmented? Do you have variable data? Have you personalized your messaging based on who you are talking to? Being clear with whom you are talking to is so important in your direct mail appeal because you need to connect with each recipient to inspire action.
  • Clear with what you are saying: make sure every sentence that is on your direct mail appeal brings value to the piece. If you took a sentence out, would the piece still make sense? Be clear with what you are saying so the recipient understands what you are telling him/her.
  • Clear with what you want the recipient to do: a call-to-action needs to be prominent, bold, and easy to understand. Having multiple call-to-actions dilutes the main, most important goal of the piece, which should be what the call-to-action is: what do you want the recipient to do when they are done reading the piece? Are you wondering if your call-to-action is distinguishable? Take a quick glance at your appeal – if the call-to-action jumps out at you, great! If it’s difficult to figure out what you’re supposed to do, you might want to go back and review it to make sure the recipient knows what action he/she should take after reading it. 

COMPELLING: What is your story? How do you tell your story about the impact that gifts make? How do you deliver that story? Storytelling is vital to developing a compelling appeal. To tell your story, it helps to know what your donors want and why they want it. It also helps to take a step back and think from your donors’ point-of-view. Perhaps, you could think, “If I were Donor A, what would I want to read on a direct mail piece? If I were Donor B, would I want to read the same thing as Donor A?” You must make your recipient believe your story and feel as though they are an influential character in that story so they are motivated to do whatever your call-to-action is.

CONCISE: Sometimes, to get a point across, people feel as though they need to explain every minute detail. However, less can be more for a direct mail piece. A great way of determining if you are being concise is to review your copy and figure out if every sentence is important to support the point you are trying to get across, or if it’s fluff that you can remove. Get straight to the point when it is appropriate and include support when it is necessary.

Calendar year-end is an ample opportunity to reach out to your donor base with a creative, clear, compelling, and concise appeal that stands out in a crowded mailbox. How do you get an appeal to stand out? BCG Connect’s creative group can handle all of that for you!

BCG Connect has been successful in partnering with our clients to create a personalized, custom approach to their direct marketing programs, targeting the right people, with an effective message, to reach their prospective and current donors. Connect with us to learn how we can help you identify, acquire, and retain your donors!

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BCG Staff Writer
Strategic Plan

Your Strategic Annual Giving Plan: 3 Tips to Success

There are many intricacies and complexities when it comes to annual giving. Due to the strategic elements that go into annual giving, success often begins with having an organized annual giving plan. An annual giving plan helps compile short- and long-term goals, schedule yearly initiatives, allocate time effectively and efficiently, adhere to a budget, and ultimately alleviate some of the complexities that can arise.

You might be thinking, “I have all of those elements – how can I optimize my annual giving plan?”

Here are 3 tips and tricks to enhance your strategic annual giving plan:

  1. MAKE SURE YOU DRAFT A SCHEDULE: This is one of the most important aspects of an annual giving plan. It helps you lay out what the initiative is, who will be targeted, what the goal is, and the timeframe of when the initiative will be executed. This not only helps with staying on track throughout the year, but it also helps with the analysis following the campaign. Sometimes, in the grand scheme of things, it’s easy to get off track from an original plan. Having a draft schedule in place is a central resource for your team to refer back to so you can make sure that all initiatives are executed to reach your goals.
  2. ANALYZE THE PREVIOUS FISCAL YEAR’S SUCCESS AND AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: When you look back on your campaigns and initiatives, you can analyze what worked best and what might need improvement. It’s OK if a campaign didn’t work exactly as planned, as long as you understand why it didn’t work and adjust accordingly. Some questions to help guide you with your analysis are
    • Did we have consistent branding across the organization? Was it consistent across different platforms? Was the messaging clear?
    • Did we use variable data to personalize the ask? How did we segment this? Did we segment the data properly to target the right people with the proper message?
    • What channels did we use to have an integrated campaign – direct mail, email, social media, and a telephone push? Did we leverage video through these channels? What else did we do?
    • Did we incorporate a challenge, giving day, or event? How did we promote it prior to the day and what was the follow up after?
    • Do we have the most updated data for our community, supporters, patients, alumni, family, and/or friends that we target?
    • How did we thank our donors? Did we do a second ask at the same time? Do the donors feel appreciated?
  3. ALLOCATE YOUR TIME WISELY: As the saying goes, “[There is] so much to do and so little time.” If you have ever thought or said this, you are not alone. The good news is that there are external resources that can help you and your team manage all of the moving parts, so you can focus on other initiatives at the same time. BCG Connect partners with clients to act as an extension of their team with a focus on helping clients identify, acquire, and retain their donors. Connect with us to learn more about how we can be a strategic resource for your team.

An annual giving plan can bring so much value to your organization. If you’re thinking, “Well, my year has already started so I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to develop a plan,” that’s not the case! You can develop an annual giving plan at any time because a late plan is better than no plan.

If you need a creative direct marketing partner who knows best practices in the education, healthcare, and nonprofit markets, BCG Connect is your strategic resource. For more than a decade, BCG Connect has been successful in partnering with our clients to create a personalized, custom approach to their marketing and fundraising initiatives, targeting the right people, with an effective message to reach their prospective and current donors. Connect with us to learn more!

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BCG Staff Writer
Storytelling - What's Your Story?

Influence Donors through Consistent Storytelling

As development professionals, you aim to successfully influence how your audience thinks and feels to get their support for your organization. A key component of reaching and influencing your audience through direct marketing efforts is by storytelling.

Once upon a time in a…

school far away, there lived development professionals who sent appeals after Labor Day.

nonprofit far away, there lived development professionals who were getting appeals ready for their next Giving Day.

healthcare organization far away, there lived development professionals who were starting to think about Giving Tuesday.

No matter what type of organization you’re a part of, having a consistent story for your brand is key.

 No, you don’t have to be Dr. Seuss.

 No, you don’t have to be Nicholas Sparks.

 No, you don’t have to be Stephen King.

 Yes, you do need to have your own story.

One of the first things to ponder is, “How am I going to make sure my story consistently connects through each platform that we send something out?” Well, it all comes back to having a strategic annual giving marketing plan. By having this plan, it’s easy to map out your storyboard and the messages you would like to send throughout the year, the channels you’d like to send them through, and when you plan on sending them.

Storytelling is strategic, especially when it comes to fundraising. It does not simply mean that you must get numerous stories from people saying how the organization had an impact on them and send those out through various channels. This can be a great tactic for some organizations but every organization’s story is different.

Here are some other ideas that might spark your storytelling muse:

Listening: Before developing your story, you need to listen to the stories of your donors. Listening helps you truly understand donors and what parts of your organization are near and dear to their hearts. It can help you align your story with theirs. When crafting an ask with this information in mind, you are more likely to relate to them and convert them to loyal donors. Take the time to listen to a handful of your potential donors and learn about what’s most important to them – you might want to think about incorporating a survey into your campaign, which can allow you to learn a lot more about your donors than you already know.

Values: An organization may have a set of 3-5 values that are core elements that support the vision of the organization. If your focus of the year is on the organization’s core values and mission, think about how you’re going to get that message across throughout the year. An idea could be to feature a different value on each appeal and incorporate a quote or story that correlates with that value. This not only shows how important values are to the organization, but it also enables you to remain consistent throughout the year and strengthen your emotional connection with potential donors.

Photos: One of the most common English idioms is, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Photos can go an extremely long way when storytelling. It gives a visual to the audience of what you want them to see and helps support how you want them to feel. Depending on the type of appeal being sent out, you can incorporate a photo that is indeed worth a thousand words in addition to a powerful message that is consistent with the organization’s story. Photos are a great way of increasing an emotional bond with a potential donor and influencing that person to donate.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wow, this blog post is quite repetitive using the word, ‘Consistency.’” It is! Consistency is vital to incorporating storytelling into your fundraising efforts. When telling your story, remember these three things:

  1. Listen to your donors and create a story for your organization that your donors want to support.
  2. Build an emotional bond with your donors and make your donors feel a certain way when they receive your appeal.
  3. Tell your story consistently throughout the year through creative direct mail appeals.

…And the storytelling fundraisers lived happily ever after!

To learn more about how BCG Connect can help you consistently deliver your story through direct marketing initiatives, connect with us!

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BCG Staff Writer
Dan Noonan, VP of Business Development

BCG Names Dan Noonan Vice President of Business Development

BCG has named Dan Noonan as Vice President of Business Development. Noonan will be responsible for leading BCG’s sales team and working with the marketing team in order to align sales and marketing goals.

Dan Noonan started with BCG more than a decade ago. Since joining BCG in 2005, he’s served as a consultative partner to his clients to help improve their marketing programs. His goal is to develop custom solutions based on a thorough understanding of clients’ needs, goals, and objectives.

Dan has shown an authentic commitment to his client’s success by enriching fundraising programs for nonprofits from coast to coast. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise and I know that he will have an even broader impact through this new role,” said Charlie Noonan, President. “After we acquired BCG more than 14 years ago, we committed to offering a spectrum of products and solutions to meet our clients’ needs. Dan has been at the forefront of that effort.”

Dan Noonan’s promotion to this leadership role is one part of BCG’s overall expansion plan. As of June 1st, the sales force has also grown—filling a newly created Account Executive position—with plans for continued company growth in the future in order to keep up with increased demand for services.  

“BCG’s investment in clients is unparalleled. I’m excited to help BCG continue to grow, to lead efforts to help more organizations thrive, and to continue to ensure our long-time clients’ success,” said Dan Noonan.

Dan Noonan holds a BA in psychology from Wheaton College. He lives in Charlestown and is a loyal Boston Celtics fan and avid golfer. He can be reached at [email protected].

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