Do you P.S.?

by Stephen Tall on February 23, 2010

A reminder from those good folk at EuroDM arrived in my email inbox this week stressing the importance of the post script (P.S.) message in any direct mail communication:

When writing a fundraising letter, the P.S. is the most read portion of any letter. Personalising the P.S. while making a strong call to action will increase response.

The inclusion of a P.S. in direct marketing/appeal mailings is one of those small but crucial battles on which fundraisers have to stand their ground.

This is especially the case in the education sector, where Vice-Chancellors / Principals / Rectors are often allergic to the notion of a P.S. I understand their concern: a P.S. is informal, and regarded as a marketing ‘trick’. (“Won’t it make it look like I’ve forgotten to put it in the main text,” some worry).

In a previous job, I decided it was easier not to tell my boss I was putting a P.S. in his name. These days I’d be more prepared to tell it to him straight: we’re putting in a P.S. because it works.

When designing political leaflets in my other life as a councillor, I was always instructed by the past-masters to make sure the leaflet survived the “10-second test” – the average length of time it takes a householder to walk from their letterbox to their recycling bin. You needed a striking headline, a good ‘action’ photo, and a call to action (“your vote here matters”).

Well, the same is true of the fundraising letter. There are certain essentials regardless of the length of the letter. And the plain fact is that test after test has shown that direct-mail letters with the P.S. are more successful than those without.

Why? Because, along with the opening sentence, it’s the one other part of the letter most people receiving your letter will read. Try it yourself the next time you receive a piece of direct-mail literature from a charity othert than your own.

P.S. And remember, this is the part most people will read: I urge you to make sure the pay-off is a good one that delivers a simple call to action!