“Your donors can’t read,” isn’t a commentary on your donors’ eyesight, education or IQ. That’s today’s reality. Everyone’s scanning. Your donors don’t have time to read. Even the people who think they’re reading are really scanning.
Your donors get like 100 emails a day (my inbox count was 147 yesterday and I’ve worked hard to move a lot conversations out of email). Statistically we’re exposed to 3 billion* advertising messages a day. Our mailboxes are filled with mail, fliers, magazines and bills. We’re stuffed to overflowing with communication.
Everyone and their dog (literally) have blogs. We’re all texting and tweeting and Facebooking.
Oh and Facebook? The Facebook newsfeed just rolls by like an Amazon River of food photos, vacation updates, cute new babies, angry babies . . . Seriously. Do you really believe anyone is reading?
The best anyone can really do is scan.
This reality leads to these rules:
1. It’s a parade. Just because we should have seen it doesn’t mean we did . . . or if we saw it, we may not have paid much attention to it. Or we may have seen it and wanted to act but got busy. Give us more than one chance. You gotta think frequency.
2. Ignore your English teacher. I know your 7th grade English teacher taught you better (mine was Miss South–if she was alive today, she’d roll over in her grave). But she was grading papers not trying to grab (and keep) people’s attention. Short sentences are OK. Fragments, too. Your English teacher isn’t your donor (or at least not a big segment of your donor file). Don’t write for an English teacher.
3. Visuals help. Design for the scanner.
4. Have a BIG idea or don’t bother. Small ideas will not change the world and more importantly . . . won’t get a hearing and won’t stick.
5. Spend your energy on headlines, photos and planning audience not details. This will make you crazy, but you should spend far more time on the topic, the headline or subject line (or the equivalent) than body copy. Maybe by a factor of 10 to 1. Copy has to be accurate, but really, most people are gonna scan it (if you’re lucky). And, to get people to read all that lovely copy, you have to draw them in. If you don’t pull them in, you’ve wasted your time and effort.
6. Assume people are far too busy to be bothered with your message. Yep. Even your friends are too busy to read what you’re putting out there. So you better grab everyone by the throat any chance you get. Be ruthless. I’m not kidding. If you don’t, you lose. And more tragically, your cause won’t make an impact.
That’s what I think. Keep moving. I know you have things to do.
*I completely made up the 3 billion statistic, but the point is that it’s a bunch however you want to count it.
(photo credit: Steve Thomas)
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