Direct Mail Premium

What is a premium and how can it help my organizations donor response?

A premium is a gift or product offered in a direct mail piece or advertisement. There are two types of premiums: back-end and front-end premiums. Back-end premiums are usually larger items that are offered to a donor or customer in return for money or information. A front-end premium is usually a smaller item that is sent to a donor or potential donor regardless of their current involvement with a specific organization.

One common understanding within the marketing and direct mail industry is that creative or package design will only affect about 20% of your response rate. The other 80% will be the list you mail to and the message and premium you offer. It’s vital in understanding how a front-end or back-end premium affects the response rate in your marketing campaign.

What three elements does a premium provide to a potential donor?

First, let’s face it, most of the time, when people receive a letter in the mail and can easily tell it has some sort of gift or tangible item in it, they are more likely to open that letter first, and that is the first battle within direct mail marketing. Getting noticed and opened first in a crowded mailbox should be the first priority. If you can become the first to be opened, your donor or potential donor has already decided your package holds more importance, which will decrease the chance of your letter being tossed in the trash.

Second, it provides a three-dimensional connection – or tangible connection – to your organization and your donor, or potential donor. This connection is a great relationship builder in the sense that your new or current donor feels a direct or subconscious sense of appreciation due to the unexpected gift they received in the mail. It’s even better if the gift you send is an item that can be incorporated into their daily lives – giving them a tool like an ink pen, garden gloves, calendar or another small useable item. This also gives the donor the ability to proudly display a statement that only your brand can communicate.

This brings us to our last point: your premium should always encourage giving, and help you in your effort to create an instant image that causes others to form positive opinions about you and your donor. When people connect with an organization or charity, they’re hoping to discover something significant. People desire to connect themselves to something substantial and something that’s bigger then themselves. Most individuals find themselves joining those who share their values in a cause that can change the world. Through their support of the organizations they choose, they hope to infuse their own lives with the same significance.

As part of the selection criteria for your next premium, be sure the premium will help your donors make a bold statement about their support for you. Whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, donors are asking for these kinds of things. It helps them communicate what they value and believe are most important to the world around them.

If the premiums you're offering are not helping your donors become "statement-makers," you're missing out on one of the greatest benefits offered by these tools. A well-designed premium will not only create donor loyalty to your organization's mission, but will help the donor become a statement-maker to the rest of the world on your behalf.