How to Be Creative with Premiums
The right premium can
boost response. Simply stated, any premium should satisfy three
- Low cost to the non-profit organization;
- High perceived value to the donor; and
- Relevant to the organization and its mission.
The most response stimulating premiums satisfy all three of these criteria.
And the third element — relevant to the organization — is tied
closely to what Jerry Huntsinger refers to as "tactile response." (J.
Huntsinger – "Dean" of direct mail fundraising - has over
40 years of copywriting experience for non-profits.)
Humans receive sensory information by handling an object with their
fingertips. So when the envelope contains an object the donor can feel,
handle, turn over and look at, and feel positive about ... you've got
a better chance of winning her attention while reading your letter.
There are a few other features to strive for in addition to
the three above:
- Three dimensional to create a lumpy envelope (peaks curiosity)
- Ensure it is of good quality
- The premium is consumable (e.g., stickers, greeting cards)
so it needs to be replaced
Of all the elements, I believe the greatest creative challenge is choosing
a premium with a relevant connection to your organization. Get this
right and the premium turbo charges the package and response. Let's
explore a few examples.
A Christian non-profit mails a cross as a premium. Trouble is ... a
cross relates to every Christian non-profit, including the local church
on the corner. It isn't unique to your specific mission.
If you're mailing a crisis letter to replace the leaky roof for example,
how about a strip of duct tape stuck on a piece of cardboard or small
piece of wood? Then write how every gift of $50 buys 5 feet of roofing
felt and 10 square feet of shingles. We're running out of duct tape
and tarp to slow down the leaks. A complete replacement is urgently
needed before our church artifacts are destroyed forever.
How about an environmental group? It's not too practical to mail a
bottle of fresh air ... but what about a blade of grass for natural
habitat preservation? Say something about how with your generous donation
of $35 we can save 8000 blades of grass over a 100 square foot area.
Just the amount of space an XYZ bird needs for nesting.
It's also vital to have copy that links the premium to the mission
or crisis in an intriguing or captivating way. Don't assume it's
The overarching secret to a successful premium is creativity.
Create an object relevant to your mission. An object your donor
feel, turn over and examine. One that actively engages your
donor while she reads your captivating letter. The donor is starting
with you. She's taking a giant step toward making a donation
because her involvement has begun.
The right premium can improve response. So start brainstorming and
test ideas that meet the three primary criteria and as many of the other
features as possible. And have fun!
There is another interesting article on premiums in the May 30, 2006
issue of Fundraising Success Advisor. The article is titled: "Two
Premium Response Boosters" and this link will take you to it (but
please don't click it just yet — more important news found below):