A Development Copywriter’s Biggest Headache? Marketing Folks

Marketing folks want to dictate messaging. All messaging. That, they’ll remind you, is what they do.

True enough. But when your marketing people don’t know what they don’t know… danger! And poor returns for your fundraising or constituent print and digital communication.

What do marketing people know?

They know how to position your organization and its work in the market.

What don’t they know?

They don’t know your donors or constituents. Your copywriter—if he or she is worth what you pay them (and if they’re worthy, you pay them well)—knows your donors and constituents. This, I’ll tell you, is what we do.

Marketing speak trumpets the organization and its work. Marketing says, “Look at us! Look at what we do! Look how long we’ve been doing it! Look at how effective we are!”

Here’s the beef: Your donors and constituents don’t care.

Let me clarify—they do care in that they’re happy to know all those things … but they already know those things. So they don’t care (and will lose interest) when you bloat your correspondence with corporate or organizational hype and hoopla.

handshakeWhat do your donors and constituents want to discover in your correspondence? The impact they are having. Your donors and constituents want to be the heroes of your work. They may not articulate it exactly that way, but their hearts long to see affirmation—they’re making a powerful impact. They want to be recognized, thanked … patted on the back. They need to feel it. They’re wanting to say, “Look at what I’m doing!”

And good storytelling writers, what do we do? We show them. Stories. Testimonies. Emotion.

Marketing folks don’t deal in emotion. They deal in equations; in numbers, stats, facts—market analysis. All well and good. And important.

Writers deal with people’s hearts, emotions, desires and dreams. These are the places where donations and deepening commitment to your organization and its work reside.

If I got a nickel for every time development folks were overruled by marketing folks in donor and constituent copy discussions, I’d be retired on a beach somewhere with an umbrella-drink in my hand.

And if I had a nickel for every time the marketing folks’ copy direction resulted in more donations or constituent engagement than that of a solid development copy writer … I’d be nickel-less.

Grasp the difference between advertising and engaging, selling and inviting, equations and emotion. Your organization and its work—more importantly, those your organization and its work serve—will tremendously benefit.

Hire a good writer. And it’s a real plus if the writer you hire knows how to gently navigate your marketing departments’ fragile egos.

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