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Principal of Reciprocity Direct Mail Example | Catholic Relief Services

Within a day or two of receiving the Nielsen Survey letter that had an unexpected dollar bill inside, this direct mail solicitation arrived from Catholic Relief Services, asking for a donation.

Here, being overly generous (with the free gift would have certainly been counter productive. So, this request has to reinforce the idea that they will be good stewards of our donation by offering inexpensive but still valuable (spiritually, that is) gifts. They included a free holy medal and prayer card.

Direct Mail Marketing Tip: Adding a promotional item to a direct mail campaign doubles its open and response rate.(1)

Unlike Nielsen who called attention to the fact that they were mailing their letter ‘First Class,’ Catholic Relief Services used ‘Bulk Mail’ — another proof of their thriftiness with the donated money they receive.

Smartly, the Catholic Relief Services donation form included several suggested amounts and highlighted one of the middle amounts. This works because humans tend to select choices located in the middle.(2)

And it is interesting to note that they said “Angel Medallion Inside. Do Not Shred” in big, bold lettering on the outside of the envelope. That important notice/warning almost forces the recipient to open the envelope.

Lastly, they created a sense of urgency(3) (and guilt and sense of responsibility)(4) with the words Emergency Appeal on the outside of the envelope and the heartbreaking message on the letter inside.

Here are all the contents inside the envelope…
law of reciprocity example direct mail catholic relief service

Source:(1) (2) (3) (4)

Randy is a print designer, web developer, graphic illustrator, copywriter, and advertising fanatic based in Asheville, NC. Have ad-related questions, comments or possible projects you'd like to discuss? Email [email protected]