Make your fundraising appeal stronger with the right teaser

An appeal from a religious nonprofit has this teaser on the outside envelope:

“It is necessary to be strong, in order to become great; that is our duty. Life is a struggle which we cannot avoid. We must triumph!”

It’s a quote from Padre Pio, and while it’s certainly inspirational, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher as a teaser for a direct mail appeal.

The reverse side of the envelope has another quote from Padre Pio that’s also about struggle and strength in adversity.

The envelope has a four-color illustration of Padre Pio, along with some graphic elements. Obviously, some attention went into this. Which makes the teaser even more puzzling.

The outside envelope of a direct mail appeal is prime real estate. There should be lots of thought about what to say on that envelope and what to show, because that’s what determines whether your appeal gets opened or gets tossed in the trash. And getting the envelope opened is the number one, overarching goal.

The problem is that there’s a dizzying array of options when it comes to teasers. Including not having a teaser at all and simply mailing a plain envelope.

But the main point is that the teaser has to tease – it has to make the donor want to see what’s inside.

Sure, a quotation might do that, but usually you have to put a little more into it.

Basically there are three kinds of teasers: the offer teaser, the benefit teaser, and the curiosity teaser. You can see more about that here.

So instead of a quotation on this outside envelope, we might think about a benefit teaser or a curiosity teaser and come up with something like:

  • Let Padre Pio inspire you with new strength in these troubling time – inside
  • Why does Padre Pio say, “Do not fear adversities”?
  • See Padre Pio’s prayer for you in these tough times – inside
  • Unsure? Frightened? Pray with Padre Pio now. See how, inside
  • Pray THIS prayer (inside) with Padre Pio for strength in these trying times.
  • Why we need Padre Pio now more than ever in these uncertain times

These are just a few possibilities for a teaser that could motivate donors to look inside. Another way to go would be an offer teaser.

The offer presented to donors in this appeal is to join in a special birthday mass for Padre Pio in gratitude for his guidance and intercession. When the donor gives, she can also include her own story about what Padre Pio means to her, along with her prayer intention.

So, an offer teaser could be something like, “Special Birthday Mass for Padre Pio – join us and draw on his strength in these trying times. Prayer card enclosed.”

This is of course just one possibility out of many.

Point is, the teaser is one of the most important parts of a direct mail appeal. But for some reason, it’s often treated as an afterthought. Lots of times, only once the appeal letter is created does attention turn to the outside envelope and the teaser. In reality, it should be the other way around. It’s vital to entice donors on the outside envelope, and get them wanting to see what’s inside. That’s the first step in moving them to give.

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