Are you a writer or communicator?
Bill Bernbach was one of the original Mad Men. The founder of DDB, he created some of the most famous lines in advertising.
Bill appreciated that great ads came from an understanding of human motivations. And, in that respect, he didn't necessarily think that facts and figures were particularly important. As he explained when asked about the qualities that make a great communicator…
“The writer is concerned with what he puts into his writing.
The communicator is concerned not just with what he puts into a piece of writing, but with what the reader gets out of it.
He therefore becomes a student of how people read and how they listen. He learns that most people come away from their reading not with a clear, precise, detailed registration of its contents on their minds but rather with a vague, misty idea that is formed as much by the pace, proportions and music of the writing as by the literal words themselves.
And he learns that the reader reads with his ego, his emotions, his compulsions, his prejudices, his urges and his aspirations. And that he plots with his brain to rationalise the facts until they become the tools of his desire.”
And that's one of the problems of working with strict brand guidelines that direct what must be included in appeal letters – they tend to miss the point.
Great fundraising copy is primarily about the reader. It's an offer – not just an ask – an offer to meet a donor's needs through supporting the work of a charity.
And, as Bill explains in the video, that rarely comes from the intellect. If you want to persuade someone to act you do it through their passions.