For best response, you need to write to responders

Have you ever heard the idea in direct marketing copy-writing that you should ‘write to responders’?

I tried googling ‘write to responders’ and ‘writing to responders’ but got no relevant results, which is surprising considering the importance of this notion.

The idea of writing to responders is a nugget of advice I was given many years ago by a true wizard in direct mail. He told me that when writing copy for response, I should not write to everyone in the audience but rather I should write to responders.

So what does it mean to write to responders?

It means you should write your copy for those in your audience who have a propensity to respond. Your copy should not try to convince everyone in your audience. It should be aimed at those most likely to respond.

Before we look at how to do this, let’s first consider why you should do this because you may rightly be thinking: “Why not try to convince everyone?” The answer is very simple. It’s because the printed word – direct mail or any kind of direct response copy – has a limited power to persuade.

Let’s take an example.

Let’s say you want to solicit support for a political party. If you could speak to your prospects in person or even over the phone, you could be forceful and control the conversation. You could deal with objections and use your personal charisma. And you might be able to change a few minds and persuade some people from other parties to switch. But you can’t do that with direct mail copy. You can’t deal with objections. You can’t use your charisma. In fact you can’t even be sure that anyone will even read your copy.

People will only read your message if they want to. And they will want to only if they have an interest in your message. In just about any audience, there will be many who will be indifferent or even hostile to your message and copy will not do well at turning these people around.

The bottom line – written copy doesn’t have the persuasive power to change minds.

But it does have the power to tickle the interest that is already there. If there’s a tiny spark, copy can kindle it into a flame. Back to the political fundraising example. Copy is great for getting people who are already members or supporters to continue their support but would not do well at getting people to switch parties. In short, the best use of DM copy is to preach to the converted.

So how do you ensure that you are preaching to the converted? Just make sure that you choose the right lists. The better the list, the stronger the predisposition to your offer. With the right list, you don’t so much have to create interest as to arouse and capitalize on the latent interest that is already there. As in all direct mail, the list is the most important determinant of response.

There are several ways to aim your efforts at those who might have a propensity to respond.

For one thing, you have to get to the point early in your copy. Your message is competing with many other messages. Plus people don’t have time to waste. If you believe your audience will want to know about your mesage, don’t hide it. Put a strong statement on the envelope or in the headline. This will allow people to quickly recognize: “This is something I’m interested in. I should read this”.

Another way to write to responders is to take a more assumptive attitude. Use a more forceful tone in your copy as opposed to less forceful. Some copywriters take a lowest common denominator approach and weaken their copy down for all readers.

And another example of writing to responders is to use long copy.

If you want everyone to read your copy you could write very short copy. You will get higher readership but less response. The length of copy – why long copy usually works best – is the subject a future newsletter. For now, please accept the notion that long copy works better. It will get less readership but higher response.

So quick recap:

For best response get to the point quickly, be forceful in your tone, don’t be afraid of longer copy and last and most important, use the right lists.

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Get Paid for Your Fundraising Expertise by Writing for Expert Fundraiser

Want to get paid twice for being a fundraiser?

Write for Expert Fundraiser.

Alan Sharpe, our publisher, is ready to pay you a one-time flat fee or an ongoing royalty for putting your knowledge of fundraising down on paper.

If you are an expert in at least one area of fundraising, and if you know enough to write a how-to guide on your topic, Alan wants to hear from you.

If your area of specialization is one that Alan feels is in high demand, he will commission you to write a special report, handbook or ebook on your topic, and pay you for your efforts.

Here are the topics that Expert Fundraiser needs your help with:

  • Raising money from local businesses
  • Facebook fundraising
  • How to run a silent auction
  • How to manage third-party fundraising events
  • How to use social media to raise money for your next special event
  • How to get free radio, TV and print publicity for your charity or event
  • How to organize and run a walkathon or run
  • How to organize and run a fundraising dinner
  • How to organize and run a fundraising gala
  • 101 products to sell at your next fundraiser
  • How to raise funds with online peer-to-peer tools and team fundraising webpages
  • How to use YouTube for fundraising
  • Where to look for grants
  • How to write a grant proposal
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Capturing US Federal Funding for Your Ministry or Church

by Bev Browning

The legislation is in place, for now. Remember, though, with each new President, priorities change; old initiatives fall by the wayside and new, hopefully better legislation is written and passed. If they want to see faith-based initiatives continue, faith-based groups must make a powerful statement: “We want this money and we are demonstrating our capabilities by applying for and winning federal grant awards!”

Step 1 – Become a Participant
How can your church or ministry join the list of federal grantees? By understanding the intent of the federal law, by learning how to qualify as an eligible grant applicant agency; and by aggressively pursuing federal grants from agencies that participate in faith-based grantmaking. This book gives you the tools, if you read, reread, and share the contents of each chapter with members of your congregation willing to help you go after grant funds.

Step 2 – Put Your Elected Officials to Work for Your Ministry
Prior to your state’s Congressional elections, your church or ministry likely hosted a candidate’s night or even allowed individual politicians to speak at weekly worship service. There even may have been campaign signage allowed on church or ministry property. Now that the election is over and local and regional politicians have moved to Washington, DC, it’s time to put your elected officials to work for your ministry.

Here are some ways to begin and sustain a federal connection:

  • Get to know staff members at the local legislative office on a first-name basis.
  • Plan annual visits to your Washington, DC-based Congressional team members.
  • Call or e-mail Congressional team members monthly. Ask for information on federal grant funding opportunities and ask to be included in any e-mail funding alerts sent to other constituents, including nonprofit organizations, in your state and community.
  • Keep Congressional team members updated on happenings in your church or ministry programs, activities, and events via frequent e-mail or newsletter mailings.
  • When you identify a federal grant opportunity that you want to apply for, notify Congressional team members of your intent to apply. Give them the name of the funding agency, name of the grant competition, and due date. Ask that a letter of Congressional support be sent directly to the Secretary (President-appointed head) of the federal agency.
  • Send or email a final copy of your grant application to your Congressional team members at the same time you electronically submit your grant application via the http://www.grants.gov or other federal e-grant upload systems. Make sure to include your Application Control Center tracking number issued when the online e-grant system accepts your grant application submittal.
  • your Congressional team members to track the progress of your grant application once it is received at the federal agency.

The formula for netting a monetary award for your church or ministry is simple: Exemplary Needs Assessment Research + Outstanding Creative Grant Proposal Narrative Writing + Congressional Advocacy = A Funded Federal Grant Application.

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Excerpted from Faith-Based Grants: Aligning Your Church or Ministry to Receive Abundance by Bev Browning. Available for immediate download.

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