Friday Afternoon Round-Up
Overcoming 'The Curse of Unremarkable Fundraising'

Beware the dangers of fundraising 'puffery'!

A fascinating report over at Harvard Business Review on a great piece of consumer  behaviour research by Alison Jing Xu.

PhD student Xu was looking at the impact of puffery (an American legal term to describe overblown marketing promises made in adverts) on consumer behaviour and came up with some interesting findings.

In areas where people believe they have reasonable knowledge of a product then they see through such language and are liable to rate such a product as inferior to rivals, but the opposite happens when a person doesn't have such knowledge. 

Xu commented:

"What I saw coming through was that puffery seemed to influence people who are not major consumers of your type of product, but it turns away consumers who are experts or have relatively higher knowledge."

This has an impact for fundraising and direct marketing.

If you are targeting an audience who are used to receiving charity appeals then you need to make sure you keep the puffery to a minimum, as potential donors will see straight through it and are unlikely to respond.

In fact the article goes on to say that "research has shown that when people communicate positive and negative information, rather than just positive information in, say, job interviews, they gain higher trust."

If this is true for marketing, then it will go a long way to explaining the success of this CRUK appeal I talked about a few months ago, which kept the puffery to a bare minimum and got some fantastic results.