Friday, July 31, 2015

Brevity Is the Soul of Messaging

We live in a world of busy people, short attention spans, quick sound bites, Twitter messages of 140 characters. catchy marketing phrases, chat acronyms, and emojis that replace words completely.

So it's essential that you keep it short and sweet in your website, enewsletters, email appeals, and solicitation letters. Here are a few practical tips for you:
  • Highlight visuals. You've heard the old adage "one picture is worth a thousand words." Take photos and videos regularly, and use them.
  • Tell very short stories. When it comes to fundraising, one pithy story is worth a thousand statistics.
  • Use word count. This invaluable computer tool allows you to literally count words in text. Set a limit for yourself, write your text, check the word count, and then delete, delete, delete!
  • Use bullets. There's nothing worse than long dense paragraphs - at best people will read the first sentence, and at worst they will not read it at all. Instead, break text down into key points using bullets that can be easily scanned.
  • Focus on key achievements. I know you want to tell everyone about every wonderful thing your organization does. And you want to provide lots of impressive statistics to back that up. But they don't have the time or patience. Pinpoint key achievements with short pithy sentences and use statistical data strategically and sparingly.
  • Drive people to your website. In your newsletters, entice them and leave them wanting more - which they can find by easily clicking the link to your website.
  • Steal good ideas. Take the time to scan relevant websites and communications you receive from other nonprofits. What catches your eye? What motivates you to find out more? What causes you to lose attention? Use what you learn to inform your own communications.
Note: I limit myself to an absolute maximum of 500 words in each monthly blog post. I'm proud to say this one, appropriately, is a mere 327.

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