Story is powerful. I'm not talking stories, but story (though stories are powerful too). Story is the big picture of who you are, told in an understandable and motivating way. Stories are helpful building blocks toward story.
The Copy Blogger recently talked about story in the context of blogging, in a useful post called Your Unique Story Proposition:
... we’re blogging ... to establish a relationship with readers and prospects that doesn’t rely on an all-or-nothing, one-off attempt to make a sale. You get to tell your story in small, manageable pieces, or even experiment with different ways of telling the same story, until one clearly resonates with your audience.
Blogging allows you to turn a unique “selling” proposition into a unique “story” proposition. A story that will not only sell, but provide room for your customers and clients to run with the story and grow your business for you.
That's true about blogging. It can (though often isn't) true about donor relationships in other media, like direct mail.
Like a good blog, a good direct mail stream should have:
- A clear point of view.
- A distinct voice.
- A unified and clearly understandable topic.
- A strong sympathy and awareness of the audience.
You may talk about a lot of different things, but it all needs to be part of one story. The person you're writing to should have a clear and steadily deepening emotional connection with you. She should be able to tell your story -- and that story should be largely about her.
You might say that story is a deeper, richer way of saying brand. While brand tends of focus on externals, like font, color palette and consistency, story is the real thing. The unifying element that actually matters.
Look at every piece of communication you do in that light: Is it all part of the story? Or is it an isolate, a confusing bit of noise that doesn't build the relationship.