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Hello from the Bridge Conference!

I'm here today in Washington, DC (actually National Harbor, which is not quite DC) and I'm on day three of one of the premier conferences for nonprofits. The Bridge Conference is sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association of Washington (DMAW) and is full of people working to improve online and offline fundraising, direct mail, DRTV, and all the other strategies to get audiences to connect, engage and donate.

I was invited here to speak about storytelling and strategies to increase the use and impact of video.

What has struck me over the course of the conference is how much of what participants are talking about can be boiled down to optimization. And that's not surprising for an event focused on direct response. How can you find the right lists, optimize your data, place the right ads, etc. For sure all of this is important. In order to successfully navigate direct mail or direct response online you need to thoughtfully and systematically engage with data and the technologies which make it easier to market directly to individuals.

But what I fear is that in the midst of all this focus on data and optimization, we are losing sight of the need for powerful and emotional storytelling. What I know from experience is that if your content isn't the right content in the first place, you can optimize it all day long and it won't change the general outcome significantly. Conversely, if you have powerful stories, they will be carried in today's connected world by the people who are moved by them.

By all means become expert on data, programmatic advertising and all types of optimization! But make sure you know your audience and tell stories that empower them to action.

Need help figuring out what stories your audience wants, and how to best tell them? We’re here to help.

Author: Michael Hoffman
  • optimization
  • DMAW
  • Bridge Conference
  • Video
  • Strategy