As I riffled through my mail, two different envelope carriers caught my eye ...two very different looks.
One was a brown paper lunch bag. The other was a lovely, mint green-colored envelope. Score 1 point for each. They both stood out in the post.
The brown paper bag was mailed in bulk with a presorted standard indicia permit. The mint green envelope had a first-class stamp. Score 1 for the green envelope. It looked like a personal letter.
The brown paper bag was addressed with a computer-generated label. The mint green envelope looked like it was hand-addressed. (On closer inspection, I saw that the address was printed by computer but hey, credit given for first-glance appearances.) Score 1 for the mint green envelope.
Naturally, since envelope carriers both were a little bit unusual, I opened them. Score 1 point for each carrier.
At this point, the mint green envelope was already up four points to two over the brown paper lunch bag. Now came the kicker … the content.
The brown bag contained a car key taped to an oversized flyer advertising an auto sale. (Huh? Lunch bag and cars. I couldn’t connect the dots. ) Tiny print – an afterthought – explained that the dealer would provide lunch to all prospective buyers during the three-day sale. Hence the brown paper lunch bag. In other words, the brown paper lunch bag was a gimmick, as was the key.
The mint green envelope opened up to a simple but beautiful thank you card expressing gratitude for “accepting people as they are,” and asking for an annual gift to an organization which supports people with special needs. Score 1 point for the mint green envelope for a consistent package with an authentic message.
Both got me to open the package. But from there the story diverges.
Now, when I see commercials or get mailings from the mint-green-envelope organization, I smile. (I occasionally send a gift, too.)
True, the brown bag did its job – it intrigued me enough to get me to open the envelope. But the content lost me and made me lose respect for the company. And what happens now when I see ads for the brown-paper-lunch-bag organization? I just shake my head.
Which way do you want your readers to respond to you?
More on writing fundraising letters
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