Why don’t people read your emails or letters?

in Copywriting - Nonprofit,Direct Mail,Email

If donors and prospects don’t read your nonprofit emails and direct mail letters, then you certainly won’t raise money.

Problems raise more moneyAlthough that’s stating the obvious … sometimes it’s worth repeating.

So what’s a big reason they aren’t reading your appeals?

Answer: Because the content doesn’t trigger the brain to read. Therefore you have to pull the correct trigger.

.

What’s that? It doesn’t “trigger the brain” to read? What is this trigger?

One of the most effective triggers is to begin by sharing a problem.

Like it or not, problems grab our attention instantly.  You can capture the attention of more of readers … draw them deeper into your letter or email … by talking about a problem.  In contrast, good news – or neutral news – takes longer to capture our attention or misses all together.

Why is that?  Because that’s how our human brains are wired.  It’s for our survival and basic safety.

You see or hear something and with every input your brain instantly analyzes whether it’s a threat or problem of any kind.  Then it very, very quickly determines how to avoid or solve the problem.  It’s automatic programming.

For example:

Scenario A – You’re walking down the sidewalk gazing at the scenery.  Suddenly your eye detects something on the sidewalk other than concrete.  Your brain starts analyzing as you look closer and then triggers your legs to do a side-step just in the nick of time.  WHEW!  Disgusting pile of dog-pooh avoided.  And all this transpired in two or three seconds.

Meanwhile your heart is racing a bit faster and you are very relieved – and proud of yourself – for avoiding a dreadful, stinky mess on your shoes.  I bet you also remember the incident and even relate it to a couple people during the day.

Scenario B – You’re walking down the sidewalk gazing at the scenery.  Suddenly your eye detects something on the sidewalk other than concrete.  Your brain starts analyzing as you look closer and then tells you to forget about it and keep on walking.  It’s just some crumpled brown paper.  You forget it as quickly as it happened – not even a second thought.

How does this relate to copywriting?  How does avoiding a pile of dog-pooh help you communicate better with your readers?

Scenario A illustrates the point: Grab their brain’s attention with a problem.  Get their mind working on how the problem might be solved; how someone ought to do something about this situation; what is this organization doing and how might I help?

Open the letter by describing a scenario: What the world would be like without your nonprofit.  Focus on one person or one family whenever possible.  Tell their story without you in the picture.

The brain makes a stronger connection to a problem … they’re drawn in … the impression you make on them with the problem story is a more intense and emotional experience.  I’m not saying they’ll always cry or get angry.  But whether a man, woman or child reads it … it will have a far greater impression on them.

They’ll be more likely to read more of your message.  And more likely to respond to your call-to-action.

Related posts:

Fundraising formula: Problem + Proof = Donations

How to Build Donor (or member) Loyalty

Saving a life through nonprofit copywriting

.

================
Photo Credit: “Sullyt64” via PhotoPin.com