A Tale of Two Envelope Carriers:

Looks Get an Open, But Content Gets Respect

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.

Let the Scoring Continue …

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.

The Kicker: Is Your Content Consistent With Your 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.

Two envelope carriers. Two stories.

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

What your fundraising letter must have ...

The most common appeal letter trap ...

6 elements of a successful appeal letter ...

3 appeal letter writing formats ...

Call to Action: have you told your reader what to do?

Write a Call to Action in 3 words or less ...

Fundraising Ask secrets: how to propel prospects to give ...

Two writing tips for making the ask ...

More tips for fundraising writing on our Pinterest board ...


Return fromTale of Two Envelope Carriers to Nonprofit Copywriter home

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.
Powered by SBI! Learn more here.

Search This Site


Share This Page



Get Free Writing Tips

Stop Wasting Time!

Grab your exclusive FREE guide, "5 Simple Writing Tips You Can Put to Use in 10 Minutes or Less"

XML RSSSubscribe To This Site
  • XML RSS
  • follow us in feedly
  • Add to My Yahoo!