Sell Me This Pen
January 30, 2023
Kevin Schulman, Founder, DonorVoice and DVCanvass
To borrow from Boiler Room, “a sale is made on every solicitation you send. Either you sell the donor on why they should give or they sell themselves on why they shouldn’t.”
The Hollywood, sales-genre movies are often fantastic and full of useful tidbits. Sell Me This Pen, famous in sales folklore and cinema, is uber useful to our trade.
There are 3 ways to sell the pen,
1.Benefits. This pen has refillable ink cartridges so you’ll never need to buy a new one. This is fundraising equivalent of building the ask around an issue or beneficiary need.
- It’s superficial.
- It shows zero knowledge of who the donor is and what’s important to them.
As a for instance, climate change might matter to Person A. But, talking about the urgency and some policy or activist “solution” doesn’t show why climate change matters to Person A. It puts the burden on them to connect the dots between your superficial need/benefit skimming and their, deeper ‘why’. That takes mental energy and we’re mental energy misers.
2. Solutions. “What’s important to you when buying a pen?” The enterprising salesperson asks probing questions and tailors the pitch. This is the fundraising equivalent of generically saying, make the donor the hero.
- This assumes all (or any?) donors want to be the hero and often further assumes the best way to show it is with direct, often aggrandizing, bordering on obsequious copy.
3. Values. Many writers never find the inspiration they need to write something truly meaningful. They tighten their grip on the pen as if squeezing will make the words flow onto the paper. But not you…
- This is the fundraising equivalent of having your primary messaging tap into the Identity and Personality of the donor.
- These are the innate motivators that really matter.
Your issue and fund and program and solutions are largely irrelevant compared to the psychological, intrinsic benefit of donating to reinforce their values and goals.
Here’s the rub, consumers and donors don’t all have the same values and goals.
If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, this is probably 10,000 of em’. The top is selling product. Makeup in this case.
No talk of product benefit, hell no product shown. Nothing about solutions or need. It’s 100% about connecting to the innate, intrinsic reason these two very different people buy makeup. The bar chart is proof in the pudding. Blue is extraverted people seeing both ads.
The bottom images are the charity equivalent and the kind of brief we use and the kind you ought to demand from your agency or internal teams.
It’s very specific, based on mounds of evidence on the psychology of the donor and it avoids the performance killing assumption that everyone is the same.
Sell Me This Pen.