Good question – asked to me by a client recently. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may well guess what I answered.
And the moment I said so, the client smiled and said, “That’s exactly who I was thinking of too”.
If you’re unfamiliar with Boden, here’s a quick catch up. It’s a clothing and accessories company, selling via a catalogue and a website. But as I’ll explain in a moment, ‘catalogue’ doesn’t really do justice to what they send their customers.
Boden mailings arrive with alarming frequency, but whoever produces them works hard to rise above being 'just another catalogue', destined for the bin.
To do this, they employ many of the techniques we use in charity fundraising pieces. And it’s really worth keeping an eye on what they’re doing because Boden lists are widely used for charity recruitment. They generate fairly affluent names, predominantly female and if they like what Boden does, I’m sure there’s something we can learn from that.
TECHNIQUE 1: A GREAT OFFER
Every Boden mailing has a great offer that stands out – or, in the case of the mailing below – stands up.
Take out: Do you have a compelling offer for a donor? Is it clear what it is? It won't be a discount, but it could be a fast response incentive. Or, better still, the chance to do something really incredible, like sponsor a child, protect an animal from cruelty or help fund a medical research project.
TECHNIQUE 2: PERSONALISATION
I've written about Boden's great use of personalisation before, showing how a catalogue can be transformed into a relevant, personal communication.
Take out: Greater use of personalisation can help lift response. See here for my previous post about the most important words in fundraising and take a look at what's number 1.
TECHNIQUE 3: ENGAGEMENT
Here's another way of engaging the recipient – stickers.
This is the front cover of the catalogue. I spend a lot of time talking about 'donor-focus', but here's some 'customer-focus' with the whole idea being what the catalogue gives the customer (reasons to be 'gruntled').
TECHNIQUE 4: REINVENT
'That looks different' – that's what I thought when I saw this mailing in the style of a broadsheet mailing and, as a result, I opened it. I'm not convinced this would have worked for Boden as clothes don't look great in newsprint, but I think there's still some learning to take away.
Takeaway: Are you sticking too rigidly to a formula? Might there be a benefit in breaking it?
I don't think Boden get it right every time, but as you can see from this collection, they try hard. If you're inventive and if what you send is relevant, you can mail frequently without it being deemed 'too much'. There are some additional tools we advise our clients to use:
- Offering a donor choice in what they receive.
- Linking communications so that if a donor gives, they get to see what they have achieved - they are part of story lines that are ongoing.
So I'll go back to a point made right at the beginning of this blog. Did you spot it? The person I was talking to smiled when they talked about Boden. Wouldn't we like people to smile when they talk about the causes they support?
I think these communications give you an idea of how to do it. Try as hard to please your donors as Boden try to please their customers.