Dr. Bob’s Compendium of Do’s & Don’ts

Feeling results-challenged? Looking for ways to add vim and vigor to a flagging campaign? Take a dose of good, old-fashioned DM common sense, as prescribed by Dr.Bob.

DON’T go for short term gain if it’s going to cause you long term pain. Exceptional response is a wonderful thing, but not if it costs you your brand.

DO use email and direct mail in concert. Boxers would call it a one-two punch; direct marketers call it effective.

DON’T sound like one person in one medium and a totally different person in another. Sound like the same person, but one who wears different clothes depending on the situation.

DO change type sizes and fonts when writing order form copy, depending on who’s supposed to be talking, i.e. typeset “Yes, I want to help promote world peace” one way and “Complete, detach and mail in the postage-paid envelope provided” in a different way. Otherwise readers get confused as to who’s talking. And once they get confused, they stop completing the form.

DON’T use reverse type if the copy is longer than half a dozen words. People don’t read it, literally, half as much. And NEVER use more than a few reverse-type words on a web page.

DO get adventurous with your envelopes. Think different sizes. Think double windows. Think windows on the front and the back. Do you think such techniques don’t make a difference? Think again.

DO let your audience know, right away, that they’ve been segmented. In a fundraising campaign, for example, be quick to thank donors for their previous gift and let lapsed donors know right off the bat that you’re sorry they haven’t donated for a while.

DO SPAM unto others the way the way you would have others SPAM unto you. In other words, don’t do it!

DO test your emails. Test subject lines. Test short vs long copy. Test html vs text vs rich media. It’s cheap. It’s easy. It’s quick. And it can make a huge difference when it comes to response.

DO plan for the day when virtually all of your target audience will be able to accept rich media emails.

DO plan for the day when rich media email will no longer have the power of novelty going for it.

DON’T forget to add a viral aspect to your emails and web pages. Word of Mouse advertising is almost as cheap and effective as word-of-mouth, plus it’s trackable.

DO invest in responder lists.

DON’T let your fundraising package look expensive; people don’t like giving their money to organizations that appear not to need it.

DON’T be afraid of negative words or thoughts.  Remember one of the best-pulling headlines of all time: “Do You Make These Common Mistakes In English?” And one of the most stirring pronouncements in history: “I have not yet begun to fight.”

DON’T worry about the length of copy; worry about how interesting it is. Make it as short as possible but as long as necessary.

DO hire highly talented and experienced people to prepare and execute your campaigns. As oil well firefighter Red Adair once said, “If you think hiring a professional’s expensive, wait till you try hiring an amateur.”