Foundation Launches First Effort With Emotional Appeal
More than four years have passed since the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, but the success of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation's recent direct mail effort hinges on the belief that the emotions of that day still are relatively fresh for many Americans.
For its first-ever direct mail effortwhich dropped in November 2005the foundation developed a piece it hoped would evoke emotion and serve a dual purpose: gather stories for a national registry and solicit donations (Archive code #602-704874-0511). According to Jennifer Cassinelli of Stephen Winchell & Associates, a Falls Church, Va.-based division of Odell, Simms & Associates, "Our ultimate goal was to create a registry of people's stories as to where they had been on Sept. 11, and to get them in the envelope," says Cassinelli.
The only copy on the #10 envelope, other than the delivery and return addresses, is a teaser in bold, red type: "Where were you on September 11, 2001?"
"We felt that was a pretty powerful teaser," explains Cassinelli.
Signed by the foundation's president and CEO, Gretchen Dykstra, the letter inside reiterates the teaser and appeals to the emotions of prospective donors by briefly recounting that day's events, sharing a bit of Dykstra's story and asking the recipient to do the same by sharing personal memories with the foundation as a charter member. The four-page letter focuses on how a member's support will help fund the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum.
While a two-page letter may be tested in the future, Cassinelli explains that the four-page typically is more successful, particularly with a new effort such as this. "It's the first time in the mailit felt like [prospects] needed a detailed explanation of what [the foundation is] trying to accomplish in building the memorial, and we needed that much copy to do that," explains Cassinelli.
In addition to the letter, the effort consists of a four-color brochure featuring a time line and background information about the project, as well as a CRE and a reply device.
The reply device's ask string$25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000 and "other"is followed by a short form for the contributing charter memberor Memorial Sponsor for those contributors of $1,000 or moreto record personal memories about that day. The foundation promises to maintain those memories at the memorial and museum in the National September 11 Registry.
According to Amy Dreher, manager of database and direct marketing for the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, 150,000 pieces were mailed to prospectsthree-quarters of which were sent to various national lists, and the rest sent to lists with a New York focus.
Among those, 25,000 prospects received a package with a bonus componenta two-page note from New York's Governor George Pataki, sharing his story and asking people for their support.
Although results still are being analyzed, Cassinelli explains that initial feedback suggests a fairly high average contribution. Once official results are in, the agency will work with the foundation to develop a similar effort for this spring.