Lessons from the world of message bombardment

By Mark G. Auerbach

Last month, I mentioned how not to overdo the holiday messaging.

But, my emails and social media feeds were overladen with messages from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through the holiday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday…enough to drive a person crazy.

It wasn’t the quality of the messages, but the quantity. Here’s a couple of incidents that drove me (choose one) to CVS for pain-relief, to the neighborhood spirits shop for pain-numbing, and to the supermarket for mochi ice cream and baked goods.

Okay, so I’m a reporter, and I get press releases from theatres I don’t know, who share my name with other theatres I don’t know, and I got bombarded with multiple requests for donations on Giving Tuesday. One out-of-state arts group, 150 miles from my coverage area, begged and begged hourly. I’ve blocked them. Another theatre, whom I have a relationship with and have donated to this year, did the hourly “we need your help and we haven’t heard from you” whine as they updated their gift totals. I’m done with them. A third non-profit, where I am a major donor and sponsor, acknowledged my additional gift with a form letter starting with “Dear Sir or Madam.” Really! If I’m just an account number to them, my money’s going elsewhere.

How you message is important, and who you message equally so. Here are tips to make sure you keep customers and donors happy instead of angering them.

-Know who you are messaging. One message to your mailing list or followers doesn’t work. Segment your list and message specifically to the segments. Pull your media list out of the messaging, unless you’re specifically mentioning them. Your lists may include: Current customers or donors, prior customers or donors, people who expressed interest in your product or your nonprofit. Each should get a message crafted to them. If you’re pitching donors, handle the major donors, and those who just donated differently than your overall list.

-Don’t trade your database with others. If someone doesn’t know you, they’re unlikely to support you or purchase your product. Your message quickly goes to spam or delete. If you and another organization are working for a common goal, acknowledge the organization. For example: “We and the ABC Theater are working together to provide discounted tickets to sensory-friendly performances, so everyone can have the opportunity to experience theatre.” And if you share, merge/purge your lists so no one gets the message twice from the two groups.

-If you’re going to message more than once, change the message, the photo, and the video that accompanies it. And vary the timing of you send things. Repetition doesn’t make anyone fonder. And, after the campaign, send a simple “thank you” message.

-For non-profits, most online donation platforms can be built to send an automatic receipt as the gift is processed. Your message should say something like “Thank you for your recent gift of X amount made on date. Please maintain this receipt for your tax records. We’ll be thanking you personally shortly. THEN, when you send the thank you letter, make sure it’s personalized, hand-signed, with a handwritten personal note, so people know a human being is appreciative.

-Consider varying the messages you use in an email, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, or Instagram. Many people use all of these platforms. And, in all messaging, give people an opt-out.

-And last, don‘t forget a message that resonates the spirit of the season. “We thank you for your support or patronage. Best wishes for a happy holiday season, and the New Year.”

And, on that note, thanks for reading my advice and those of others at Succeeding in Small Business. Season’s greetings and hoping we all have a happy and healthy New Year, as we channel Barbara Walters saying “And this is 2020.”


Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn. Mark also produces ArtsBeat in print in The Westfield News, on radio for Pioneer Valley Radio and 89.5fm/WKB, an on TV at WCPC15.

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