Resist the tell-all

Year-end and New-Year donor contact opportunities consume us in these winter months. Don’t let telling-it-all turn your donors off.

Each time your CEO (or other spokesperson) takes center stage or front page, the choice of content is a new opportunity. Of course your goals are broad appeal, opportunity for the listener to make a difference, introducing new enticements to participate, and capturing the interest of the not-yet members of your following. Resist the impulse to promote a comprehensive list of all your programs and services.

Would you rather read a general brochure about the offerings of the American Automobile Association, or a highlight piece about a trip to Alaska they are offering this spring? Are you interested in the full capabilities of a hospital center, or a new success story from their cardiac rehabilitation services? You are the perfect example of who-reads-what.

Each of us knows that, with all the communiques coming at us and with our fragmented time and energy, we limit our attention to those things which stand out because they are New, Critical to some Urgent Problem, Important to us Personally! Of course, there are certain topics we feel an obligation to know about, certain should-listens. But, in truth, our instincts (and our selective attention) will be drawn to the first categories.

Not only will we take those in first. We will also be listening/reading with heightened attention and absorption! That’s where impact can be made.

When you have center-stage, or front-page, or other versions of a captive audience, the subject matter is what is new, critical, and/or personally compelling to the audience. You risk muddying that topic, and losing the opportunity at hand, if you surround that topic with your organization’s full array of issues and events. The attention and momentum that you capture in the first five minutes will be dulled out of existence when you continue for ten or fifteen more minutes reiterating information of a lesser priority.

This is no time for a comprehensive listing of your full array of programs and services, with the latest accomplishments of each, and the progress your organization has made over time. Any planned communication, to be effective, needs a clear focus, an attention-getting spotlight, and a direct line from the focus to the call to action.

Next time we’ll consider strategic ways to include the whole picture without diluting the impact of the focus of the day.

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