Example Material: A Letter to Farmers

From forests to woodlands to windbreaks, the Kansas Forest Service (KFS) is looking out for Kansas’ trees. Recognizing that a large proportion of Kansas’ windbreaks were in need of attention, the KFS team set out to engage private landowners in renovating windbreaks on their property.

Starting in a three county area, the KFS team targeted farmers with windbreaks in poor to fair condition encouraging them to contact their Conservation District Manager or District Forester to learn about options for renovating their windbreaks. They used remote sensing data to identify the windbreaks requiring attention and applied a parcel data layer to that information to locate the landowners.

While a portion of their success was no doubt due to their targeting of only those landowners that qualified for the program and could successfully complete the desired action, the letter they sent also has some valuable lessons to be learned. Read the letter below and find out what worked and what could be improved.

Read the full case study here.

WHAT WORKS

1. Personalization: Letters were addressed to the landowner by name and signed by a real person that they could contact. This has been shown to increase resonance with the reader.

2. Credible Information from Trusted Institutions: The letter explained that KFS, KSU, and the local Conservation District had conducted the assessment that identified their property as a priority. The letter itself also came from the local Conservation District which is likely to be more trusted and recognized by farmers in the area than the Forest Service.

3. Reduced Barriers: They highlighted that financial assistance was available to cover the majority of costs associated with windbreak renovation which appeals to their target audience’s financial priorities.

 

WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED

 

1. Long Web Address: Including a long web address in a letter (where it’s not clickable) can make it difficult for anyone to accurately type the address into a web browser. Using a shortened url can make this task a bit easier. If you are unable to create a shortened url from your own website, there are sites that can do it for you:

2. Be Specific: People are less likely to follow through when presented with two options instead of one. Telling landowners to contact either the Conservation District Manager or the District Forester might leave some feeling unsure of who to call. Choosing one point of contact provides a clear action for the landowner to complete and increases the likelihood that they’ll actually do it.

3. Missed Opportunity: The target audience identified by KFS was farmers motivated by financial concerns. The letter mailed to this audience neglected to explain the financial benefits that windbreaks provide to farms in the form of increased crop yields and decreased crop damage and erosion. This information could have provided an extra motivational nudge toward the desired action.

Special thanks to the Kansas Forest Service for providing this letter.

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