Creating Urgency AFTER December 31
(Posted: Monday, January 8, 2018)

Developing a sense of urgency is imperative for any successful direct mail piece. (There are more than a dozen others.) You have witnessed it – and probably used it – within this past 30 days. “Donate on Giving Tuesday and your gift will be doubled.” “All donations received before the end of the year are guaranteed to be fully tax-deductible.” December 31st is a natural deadline, but how do we create urgency the remaining 11 months of the year?

4 Components to Urgency

Urgency shouldn’t be an afterthought. Please don’t compose your appeal, then stick-on a deadline to your envelope teaser and letter postscript. Weave these components throughout for a consistent and high-performing direct mail package.

Is there anything more urgent than a heart attack? Please understand I never want to equate any direct mail letter, no matter the cause, with the severity and consequences of a serious medical emergency. However, direct mail shouldn’t ignore similar components to the first directive one might give to a crowd of onlookers.
  • YOU! The first response should be to identify and get the attention of a singular person to help. In mail’s case, this is the prospect, donor, customer, or influencer. That one person must recognize immediately that you are speaking to her or him. 
  • STOP!  In direct mail’s case (and sometimes in a medical emergency), we must get people to cease going about their business and focus their attention solely on the situation at hand. A command to “Act Now!” helps break him or her out of the routine and increases the likelihood a person will do as you have asked.
  • Bad Things Could Happen Without Your Action. This is implied in a medical situation, but it isn’t so apparent for a business or nonprofit campaign. We must state clearly that people may not thrive, a window of opportunity will close, others may get this technology first, or conditions are about to worsen unless....
  • Scarcity. In the medical emergency, the obvious limiter is time. In mailing, we don’t want the donor or prospect to miss out on an “incredible chance.” Be realistic here. Your audience is intelligent, so please treat them that way. “Due to room size, seating is limited to 125 people.” Or “The first $10,000 will be matched.” Or “Only 200 of these limited-edition, signed prints are available.”

Blake Conover, President

P.S. If you could use a hand at creating successful direct mail, might I suggest 1Vision?

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