Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jennifer Miller. You can check out her past posts here.
One of the questions I get asked most often by clients and colleagues is if they should update the story in a strong-performing control — and when to do that.
Here’s what I say:
Don’t guess. Test.
Sometimes refreshed versions of stories in proven controls can have a novelty effect and boost results in the short-term. Sometimes they can have no impact at all. So it’s impossible to state emphatically that there is a particular cadence to refreshing fundraising stories that works every time.
If you can, test a new story and see how it performs. It’s the only way to know for sure.
In the meantime, check out these 5 story myths:
- Donors will bristle at reading the story you used in last year’s control package. (Donors probably don’t remember the story as well as you do — or at all. Plus, repetition spurs recognition, which can trigger giving.)
- Any new story that’s similar enough to the control can safely be swapped out and will perform as well. (Not always true. We tested this for one nonprofit and found that a very similar story still didn’t perform as well as the story in their strong multi-year control.)
- The story has to be real to work. (Real stories and photos are ideal, but I’ve seen success with word composites, too. Those are stories that paint a realistic picture based on actual impact or success stories. In fact, some circumstances may indicate using a word composite over a real story to get the best results with your audience.)
- Stories aren’t as important as statistics. (Wrong. Stats don’t touch your heart. Stories do.)
- Good stories are packed with details and are usually really long. (If stories were powerful solely based on length, we’d all be sending War and Peace as a freemium.)
Heard any other good myths about fundraising stories? Post it in the comments section below.
Want to know more? Contact me at: Jennifer.Miller@truesense.com