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The Power of One

When you sit down to write direct marketing copy, what are you trying to accomplish?

It’s a very basic, but very important, question. In persuasive writing, we call this “beginning with the end in mind.” Do you want them to feel great about alma mater? Come to an event? Make a gift? Register for your online community?

It’s also critical, because here’s the truth: in direct marketing, you only get one. You can only leave your reader with one thought, one action, one idea, or one emotion. So choose wisely.

It can be tempting, particularly for nonprofits, to want one piece to serve multiple purposes — to have an annual fund letter, for example, ask for a gift, invite the graduate to join the reunion committee, submit class notes, and purchase game tickets.

But put yourself in your reader’s shoes: if you’re flipping through your mail after work, or quickly reviewing emails between meetings, are you really in the frame of mind to digest a lot of information? No, of course not — and neither is your reader.

Focusing on that one outcome will help your reader. It’s also a great roadmap for you, as a writer. Think of your marketing piece as a journey: you’re starting at the beginning and leading readers to a specific destination. Make sure every headline, every paragraph, every sentence works toward that goal.

You won’t be sorry. And neither will your reader.

Maura King Scully

by Maura King Scully
Principal, MKS Communication