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Oh, No — More Free Address Labels?

January 21st, 2009 by Bob Bly

Today I got a fundraising letter from Ocean Conservatory containing — you guessed it — free address labels.

The reason fundraisers enclose these free address labels, of course, is what Robert Cialidini in his book Influence identifies as the principle of reciprocity:

If I give you something (labels), you will feel obliged to give me something in return (a donation).

A free gift enclosed in a direct mail package is called a “freemium.”

It’s not that I object to free address labels as a freemium.

But I already have a whole drawer full of them.

What do you think fundraisers could use instead of address labels as a freemium that would be just as appreciated — and affordable?

I’ve seen a few other freemiums. Catholic charities have sent rosary beads and crosses. An Indian Mission sent a dream catcher and a sacred prayer.

Any other ideas out there that can get me free stuff in my mail other than all these address labels?


This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 at 1:23 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

62 responses about “Oh, No — More Free Address Labels?”

  1. Quinton said:

    Car magnets. Affordable and a high perceived value.

  2. dianacacy said:

    Pens! I always notice when a company sends me a good pen. It’s the writer in me.

    Labels are useful, but they are an easy way to not have to think about your freemium. And way over done. I have tons, but I can’t tell you who they are from. They’re so familiar I’m blind to the message now.

    They need to think more of the market and send something those people will notice more. Like, pens for writers and office people. Bookmarks for book readers. Calendars are useful at the right time of year. The good ol’ penny gets attention still – or so I hear. Calculators. A bracelet medallion created with the charity’s logo or mascot. A charity photograph. T-shirt. Free subscription to a periodical put out by the charity organization. Bumper stickers. Window stickers. Sheet of stickers for paper items. Activity page to keep the rugrats busy while the mom’s busy.

    Ok – some are not usable keepers. Just thinking of what might make me remember the charity more than just labels.

    If you want to get people to the website, a special coupon with an url on it to get a free download is an idea. If the download appeals to the person, it’ll make them remember the charity more. And the webpage can help push the funds more.

  3. Bob Bly said:

    A temp agency trying to recruit home-makers to work for them as temps sent refrigerator magnets. They reasoned that the home-maker would stick it on the refrigerator door, which he or she would look at numerous times each day.

  4. Jodi said:

    My mom got a cross from a Catholic charity once. Someone must have picked the wrong list!

    On the other hand, I was at the DMA Nonprofit Conference several years ago, and a Catholic school reported excellent results from a letter that included a picture of the head of the school standing with the Pope. It worked so well that people returned it with their donations (thinking it was a personal photo that the school head was sharing).

  5. Jodi Kaplan said:

    To clarify my first paragraph, we’re not Catholic.

  6. Dave J. said:

    I always loved getting stickers as a kid from Highlights for Children.

  7. S.P. Gass said:

    Occasionally I receive greeting cards (w/ envelopes) from charities in the mail. I would think they would be more expensive than address labels though.

    I agree with Dianacacy that calendars are nice. A magnetic calendar from a real estate agent has made it onto my fridge before. Also a credit card sized calendar comes in handy. I’ve also seen businesses give out magnets with a local sports team’s schedule.

    Actually, I recently ran out of address labels so I hope they keep coming.

  8. Brett Owens said:

    I’d vote for a stamp or two. I also have a 3-years supply of address labels next to my desk, but no stamps!

  9. Bob Bly said:

    Brett: My supply of address labels is about the size of yours! Dave J: I also read Highlights as a child. Remember Goofus and Gallant?

  10. Ken said:

    You’re smart…create a blog post that stimulates discussion and get a bunch of free ideas to use in your own mailings…and no I’m not insinuating unethical or anything like that. Just a really smart guy. Sometimes you teach without even knowing it.

  11. Note Taking Nerd #2 said:

    Back in my fundraising days I used to market on a local level to the business owners in the community.

    Myself and one other person would cold call lists of high net worth business owners in town.

    For the people we talked to who couldn’t help at the moment, we’d get a soft commitment from them as to a better time to call back.

    In between the time I spoke with them and when I was supposed to call them back, they would get business reports from us we had sent to us from guys like Chet Holmes, Jay Abraham, Jim Rohn, Scott Hallman, Brian Tracy and others.

    Getting these reports was easy. These men admired our cause, wanted to help and also were open to the idea of generating leads from high net worth business owners for free.

    Depending on how soon they wanted me to call back they’d either get a free report once a week or once a month.

    Using another one of Cialdini’s principles, consistency, we’d call them back when they asked me to.

    This strategy brought in big bucks.

    It put us in completely separate class from the “address label” guys.

    I’m sure you’ll see how this can be switched over business owners to consumers easily.

    Note Taking Nerd #2

  12. Bob Bly said:

    Ken: although what you suggest WOULD be smart, I didn’t do it: I don’t write fundraising copy.

  13. Dennis Kalian said:

    I have customized hand sanitizer spray that we hand out at our seminars and when we visit clients and potential clients. This seems to go over really well especially during h ecold and flu seasons.

  14. Holly Bonds said:

    There are these great little things I’ve found recently that can stick on the back of your cell phone or iPod, which basically prevent them from sliding all over the place. They are easily removable, as well. I’m not sure what they are called, but you can have them printed with your logo on them. I have one on the back of my iPod and whenever I want to play my iPod in my car it doesn’t slide all over the dash. Same thing goes for the gym, or anywhere else I tend to set the thing down.

    I also think maybe for certain lists – people who have donated in the past – a USB pen is a great little gadget that doesn’t cost too much more than a calendar. But, they’re still on the pricier side, so I’d reserve those for the mailing list of repeat donors.

    “freemium”… never heard that before!

  15. Andrei said:

    great suggestions, but will give it a try when time is right

  16. Ken Norkin - Freelance Copywriter said:

    A Post-It notes pad. Even the mini size. Don’t know if it’s possible to imprint the charity name so it’s there on every note you write.

  17. Bob Bly said:

    Ken: Yes, you can buy imprinted Post-It notes with your logo and URL.

  18. Kelly Robbins said:

    Hospitals and urgent care centers often send magnets for refridgerator. Works great with a map for directions and emergency phone number.

    Orthodonist, pediatrician and dentist give in welcome packets for new patients makes it easy to have phone numbers easily accessible.

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  20. Paul` said:

    I have too many frig magnets (no room).

    Labels I can always use.

    Pens, – dont need em, get too many from job fairs and event I go to… I get so many that everytime i do this I end up throwing away any pen that doesnt work (from the new stash & old stash both)..

    Little lights u put on a keyring, are handy.

  21. Ryan said:

    How about a cross between a fridge magnet and a Post-It note with your URL or company logo on it? You can write grocery items that you need as you run out, personal notes to others in the family or URL’s or 1-800 numbers you just caught off the TV before you forget them.

  22. Tonya Miller said:

    I’m a sucker for those pens with something floating in them (no dead bugs or such, but funny things like little people or plastic fish).

  23. Liz Gray said:

    Ijust found this question, so I’m replying as I know of a few great AD specialty items.

    If you want repeat business among locals, Get frisbee type gadgets printed “Fly me back for a discount or free item. Sodas are high percieved value for cost. Sneaky side benefit, the store washes and hands out the flyer again. This would also be good for pet stores. I have one that I got on a trip years ago. It is perfect for holding fast food meals in the car.

    Another favorite is the rubbery textured jar opener. It will thrive in kitchen or workshop for decades. Ideal for those with limited dexterity. My mother had one for decades.

    I also like items that “glow in the dark” and could really use a couple more. I put the “key” tag on my black dog, Horse halters (find halter faster in power outage) and on the gate latches. I can easily see if gate chain is up or down. You can find many uses for these, and most have a blank side for marking the key’s use. I think that kitchen aids such as substitution lists and measurement conversions are kept. Information related to the charity is worthwhile, such as a laminated list of skin cancer warnings to hang on a shower door or mirror. Related information is beneficial and usually kept. A travel site might provide sources for passport, vaccination and related site info for travelors or provide a packing list, and hints for business travelors.

    Have you noticed that one gets dozens of labels for home, but none for business name and address? BBB or Chamber of commerce should be able to provide lists of sole owners.

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  31. Lee Haas said:

    The ironic thing about all of these address labels is that people don’t write as many personal letters as in the past. I send emails and pay many bills online. Most bills come with a self-addressed envelope. I assume that the company knows its own address, so I see no need for a return address label. I wish fundraisers would become more imaginative. Post-it notes, pens (not too cheap), and note pads would be more appreciated.

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  39. Roman said:

    One way to get free address labels is through a charity. Some charities will send out free address labels to help increase awareness of their cause or as a small token in hopes to get you to donate to them.

  40. Don said:

    One clever way to get free stuff is to find companies that will send you a gift if you provide online review. Works for many online stores. When they send you an item you order, they ask you to provide online review to receive a free gift. We have done that for our nyc sidewalk repair store.

  41. Alex Webster said:

    One way to get free address labels is through a charity. Some charities will send out free address labels to help increase awareness of their cause or as a small token in hopes to get you to donate to them.


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