Adams Hussey & Associates' Jim Hussey on Telling Great Stories
Boldt: Does response vary depending on the emotion aroused, from rage to sadness to guilt to fear?
Hussey: I don't think you can say that one emotion pulls better than the other. Any of those in the right circumstances can certainly pull a better response than a package without any emotion.
Boldt: Is it only particularly effective for fundraising direct mail?
Hussey: It works in other sectors, too. We also work with associations on their membership programs, and often those associations are addressing a need that an individual has. A lot of times they respond to stories of people who were in worse situations than themselves. For example, we work for an association that represents the rights for seniors, and often the more successful mail pieces are those that tell stories that are about similar situations to what the reader may be facing.
Boldt: Does shrinking of the package hamper your ability to use emotional copywriting?
Hussey: We haven't really resorted to that because I don't really believe that what is better is a short letter or long letter. I think what's best is whatever fits the need. Some letters can be done in two pages; others need three or four. Even despite all the pressures we're facing today, such as rising print costs, shipping costs and postage costs, I don't think you can take that shortcut and really get away with it.
Boldt: Does it belong on other components besides the letter?
Hussey: This is a trap that a lot of people new to direct marketing fall into. They think that 99 percent of their effort should be spent on the letter. You have to recognize that a direct mail package is a lot more than just the letter: It's also the carrier that pulls the person in; the other components such as brochures and buckslips. You have to use the whole package.