10 June, 2010

How my college got me to donate

I'm the first one to talk up the power of social, much to the annoyance and/or ridicule of my agencymates. But I was reminded today why it has - and always will - have its limits.

I try to remind clients that relationships work on the same principles of physics: Energy is neither created nor destroyed. It's simply transferred. You can't expect that a low wattage effort is going to yield nuclear results. You get what you put in.

With that in mind, Towson University, my alma mater, went beyond the one-click connection we've gotten so used to online. They eschewed the relative ease of link love and Facebook fans and Twitter talk.

Instead, they actually took the time to learn about me - and do something about it. It didn't take going to my blog and leaving a comment. Or checking out my LinkedIn profile. Or hitting me up on Google chat. Those are all great and all but...

They mailed me a package with all this stuff:
Included was the latest edition of the school's literary magazine. I once worked on the staff as an editor. Good times (from what I remember).

There was also a handwritten note from the Director of the Annual Campaign Development:

Mr. McDermott,
I understand you worked on Grub Street while a student at Towson so I've enclosed the 2010 Grub Street along with an announcement about English Dept. retirements. We hope you enjoy your summer and the enclosed.

Meghan Colbertson

I was a little sad to learn that four of my former professors were all retiring, but it was nice to know.

As I flipped through the lit mag, I found a donation envelope stuffed between the pages. Same strategy Ralphie employs in "The Christmas Story", placing a Red Ryder BB gun ad in the pages of his mom's magazine.

Interestingly, there was nothing in the note asking for a donation. The package as a whole was all the call to action I needed.

The appeal worked on so many levels.

It was personal.
It was relatively expensive to produce.
It was hand-assembled.
It was relevant.
And, it was gloriously analog at a time when everyone's digital.

I'm going to cut them a check this weekend. It might even clear.

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