Most writers and marketers understand the concept of aiming your message to a specific person.
Imagining someone real, whom you might have an actual conversation with, makes your persuasive techniques more relevant and convincing.
But when you are writing a persuasive piece about nature… just who are you writing to?
It’s hard to pin people who care about the environment into one caricature anymore.
The people who identify themselves as environmentalists today are not all wired the same and definitely can’t be pigeonholed into the hippie-dippie crowd.
I tend to see two main types of marketing coming out of environmental organizations.
If your organization runs primarily on urgency… gaining signatures to lobby Congress to stop a particular bill, organizing demonstrations against certain actions by city leaders, or trying to meet a hard deadline of some sort.
If this is you, it’s likely the best person to market your messages to are the one’s that run on FEAR.
As an environmental copywriter, I receive loads of emails every day that play on this fear.
Act now, or there won’t be any clean water left for your children!
Join our cause, before it’s too late to save the polar bear!
President X is out to strip all our lands of trees!
These headlines and fear mongering scenarios work well for a lot of people and a lot of serious causes.
Plus, there is a certain amount of truth to the idea that if we don’t act now, all the good stuff will be gone, and we’ll be known as the generation that blew it.
On the flip side, there are the INSPIRATIONAL messages.
These work well for organizations that foster community involvement at a deeper level, are aiming at longer-term solutions, or have education as a primary goal.
These organizations believe that the work we do now will bring concrete positive change, versus the fear organizations that are often simply trying to stop the bad guys.
The inspirational messages tend to have headlines like…
Our work today brings a safer tomorrow.
Nature is a gift worth giving
Plant a tree, save a life.
As an engaged reader and a potential donor, I have a preferred type of message that I respond more positively to.
But I’m not trying to take sides.
We aren’t all divided into the-glass-is-half-full or the-glass-is-half-empty people.
Fear and inspiration don’t have to work in opposition.
They could be looked at as simply two sides of the same coin. And many organizations have used both with success.
In deciding to highlight either fear or inspiration, return to your original objective and the particular medium (social media, fundraising letter, blog post, etc.) of your message. Streamline further by choosing one of those minds to write to.
Different people will respond to different tactics, and it’s probably in your best interest to seek them all.
You may like to stick to one or the other, but throwing in a little fear among all the inspiration might draw a new crowd of donors.
After all, would you really turn away a prospective donor simply because he is fueled on the fear of tomorrow as a dark, bare place? His money is the same color as someone who believes tomorrow is bright and shiny.