I recently read a post in The Agitator called “The Best Words.” http://www.theagitator.net/communications/the-best-words/. It sent us to an article by the inimitable Denny Hatch http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/never-use-word-you-can-t-spell-introducing-write-it-right/1 (who no doubt would frown at “inimitable.”)
All of that got us talking about words we love. Denny’s list is great … “free”, “you” “easy” “money”, to name a few. And, we always push our clients to use “renew” whenever they can, because it encourages people to keep doing what they’ve been doing … no decision necessary.
To dig a little deeper, I browsed through some of Impact’s most successful direct mail letters, and what jumped out is that it’s not so much particular words, but categories of words.
We love specific concrete nouns: Piano, not musical instrument; kindergartners-not young children; Peppy Jacob, Rags, Blackie, Howie, Hunky, Miss Booties, Lilly-not just dogs and cats.
And, even farther down that road: We love to name names. Tell the story of Shauna, not a teen-aged girl. List the evil-doings of a specific company, not just Big Oil, Big Pharma, or big government. Name the organization who stands for values your organization opposes.
We love empowering words: inspire, hope, challenge, fight. And we love those words combined with “you.” You inspire, you bring hope, you fight … with the goal of the donor holding her head a little higher, and reaching for her pen and her checkbook.
And we love “your generosity” and “thank you”. Not just in acknowledgments. Not just in the P.S., but sprinkled liberally throughout the letter.
What are some of your favorite fundraising words? Ever used something a little bit out there and had surprising results? We would love to hear about your successes … or for that matter, dramatic flops … oops, make that learning experiences!
– Posted by Dinah O’Berry