It is far more easy to get people to vote for, volunteer for and give money to candidates who make you feel good than people who make you feel sad or angry…though evoking anger is a powerful motivator, but only if you leave folks with a positive uplifting message of hope that things can and will get better.

To that end, pay particular attention to these hot tips from fundraising legend Kevin Gentry

How can you effectively use nostalgia right now – this November and December — to improve your marketing and fundraising success?

I think the obvious answer is for you is to use the convenient seasonal hook of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, etc. – “the holidays.” Let me explain.

Recently, you and I have discussed how using references to familiar moments in our pass can evoke positive feelings that can in turn lead to positive action. As we’ve said, most successful advertisers get this.

You might consider this excerpt from a blog post entitled, “Remember the Good Times, Marketing Through Nostalgia,” –

Through various studies scientists have found that there are two types of memories that are often associated with nostalgia: social interactions such as family gatherings or playing catch at school and momentous life events such as graduations and weddings. These are the memories our minds are drawn to when the feeling of nostalgia is evoked.

The reason that nostalgia is now being considered as an important emotion by marketers is because it makes us happy. In times of recession or instability nostalgia is even more effective. This is because when people are feeling down about their situation now, nothing makes them feel better than remembering the happier times in the past. Our minds as human beings are hard wired to work that way.

That is why in times of recession we notice more older retro products being brought back (the Fiat 500 for example), more songs tend to incorporate tunes or lyrics from older songs, company advertisements will focus on the past to the extent that some companies will even bring back advertisements that they used decades ago. All of this is supposed to target consumers who are now burdened by long working hours, paying bills, or taking care of children and remind them of the days when they didn’t have to worry about such things. By framing their products or services in this context, companies link themselves with happier times in the minds of consumers, making a sale that much easier.

If you’ve got a few minutes, you might check out this compilation of successful television commercials from decades past. I’m very interested to get your reaction to these – what effect did watching them have on you personally?

Okay, then how do we apply the use of nostalgia – especially related to the upcoming holidays — to our work right now?

• First, you might think about story-telling, in your fundraising letters, emails and newsletter articles. You and I have repeatedly discussed how story-telling is a powerful form of communication – it helps “cut through the clutter,” it can help simplify a complex point and get it across more effectively, and it provides more helpful hooks for memory retention. Everyone has stories they can tell about holidays past – and then virtually by definition it connects you more personally to the recipients of your marketing.

• Second, you might consider using visual images related to the holidays – colors, iconic imagery, even stylistic flourishes that help “set the mood.” Again, this connects you effectively to the positive memories your prospects have of good times in their past.

• And third, if you can finesse it, what if you could also use sound, and even smell? A connection to a familiar, nostalgic tune is a no-brainer. Something as simple as sleigh bells can do the trick. But what if you could also pull off the smell of freshly cut evergreens or Grandma’s Thanksgiving dinner cooking on her old kitchen stove? Now, is Starbucks’ autumnal use of pumpkin making sense to you? And then, their likely upcoming pivot to peppermint and spice?

• There are surely other creative ways you can use nostalgic references that will evoke those warm and fuzzy feelings.