We used a back end premium, a book signed by our candidate, to increase the average gift of our telemarketing donations by 50%.
We hired a call center to place fundraising calls to all known conservative voters and right-leaning businesses in our district. The pitch over the phone was straight-forward: send a conservative who happens to be an expert in health care, to the state legislature. About 30 percent of those we spoke to agreed to make a donation. The average gift pledged was $25. That was considered a good campaign. But we wanted to do better.
Around 15 percent of those who pledged agreed to make their donation by credit card. We preferred that method since it meant that the pledge payment was guaranteed and the money would be in our bank account the next day. The rest declined but promised to send their payment in by mail when they received our (pledge collection) information package. We knew from experience that we could expect that 75 percent of those pledges would be collected. At that rate the overall cost of the campaign would be about 40 cents for every dollar we collected.
Our candidate was a medical doctor and had written a very good book about wellness. It wasn’t exactly number one on the NYT bestseller list but had sold well and had solid reviews. We decided to try using it as a premium to push up the average gift. First we tried promoting it when on the phone with the potential donor. After the donor had agreed to help us with a donation we tried to upsell by offering a signed copy of Greg’s book if they would increase their donation to $100. It didn’t work. This approach violated a basic rule of mass telemarketing – do not try to upsell the donor. It takes up far too much time and when you’re paying your call center by the hour that can be deadly. The callers on the phone didn’t like doing it. They were judged on their total dollar pledge rate per hour and they quickly realized that anything that led them to speak to fewer people per hour pushed down their performance rates. The few donors who did agree to the higher amount did not nearly make up for the sales per hour that were lost because of the much longer and more complicated pitch.
So we decided to offer the premium as part of the back end fulfillment package. We had designed and printed a very compelling one page / both sides flyer that was inserted with the collection package. It offered a personally signed hardcover copy of the book that would be specifically dedicated to the donor, if the donor would increase his or her (most telephone donors are female) donation to $100. This flyer went to all those donors who pledged a donation but would not pay on credit card.
The flyers were cheap to print and insert. There was no additional mailing cost. The books were available to us at the author’s discount cost of $10.00. The published had about 1000 of them in stock and had agreed happily to do another run if the demand required it.
It worked. Nearly one third of those we send the package to bumped their donation up to $100. After the cost of the book and the cost of packing it and mailing it out (we used a local fulfillment house) we ended up, on average, with an additional net income of $62 for every book we sent out. That drove our average gift for the campaign to $38. We paid no more to the call center. The additional $13 of average gift was all net income.
We had three hassles. First, it was a challenge to get our candidate to take the hours required to sign over two thousand copies of his book, including a salutation and comment to the donor. Time is precious and he was heavily booked already. Our scheduler did not appreciate our demands. Second, the publisher delayed on doing the additional small run of the books we needed until he knew that they were all likely to be sold, otherwise he would have had to make us pay for the full run. That delayed our getting the books out to the donors. And then there were all the legal and reporting issues. Mixing a gift that had an obvious market value with political donations made headaches for our reporting team.
Otherwise it was a great success. But now we need to get him to write another book that’s as good, since we’ve already marketed the first one. Not likely to be able to do that. As chair of the Health Care Committee of the Legislature, he has no time. We’ll have to think of something else.
(Note: the above story is fictional. It has been provided to give potential contributors an example of they types of stories we hope they will share with fellow conservatives.)