Apr 24, 2003

Direct-Mail Money Makers

How to implement a successful marketing plan via a direct-mail campaign

Million Dollar Mailing$ for marketing and communications
professionals? We have got to be kidding, right? Wrong!

Do not think direct mail is beneath you and the crass
discussion of doing mailings profitably is not something you have to worry
about. Whether you want to admit it or not, you do
mailings--"snail" mail releases, e-mail releases, product
catalogs, special promotions, product roll-out editorial/analyst packages,
event media announcements/invitations, employee/legislative educational/
informational packages--and management expects you to deliver a return on
investment on those mailings.

The author of Million Dollar Mailing$, Denny Hatch, is no
"newby" to direct mail. In fact, he has spent almost his entire
career researching, studying and writing/designing direct mail marketing
efforts. Anyone who maintains an archive of more than 200,000 mailings in 200
categories should be able to speak with some authority. He does.

His new book is perhaps easier to follow and use than his
earlier books--2,239 Tested Secrets or Direct Marketing Success and Method
Marketing. It is an excellent book that includes copy approaches, designs,
formats and offers that will help you produce results. Reading about and using
the tried and proven techniques from others is a lot easier--and less
painful--than doing your corporate and marketing message packages the way
most of us do them today: by trial and error.

It is hard to believe this book can be packed with so much
information, guidelines, examples and detailed discussion information
throughout its 500 pages. You will not find a lot of useless theory or lofty
messages in the book. It is simply your guide to developing the objectives,
strategies and tactics that will work in helping get your messages to the right
audience. More importantly, it is a road map on how to help you guarantee to
yourself--and to your management--that your efforts and budget will
produce the results they want to achieve.

Every chapter contains four to five direct mail examples.
More than just showing you what worked; he goes behind the scenes for you to
help you understand the entire thought and design process in the program. Then
he explains why the direct mail effort worked, and he gives you an insight into
what the payoff was for the organization that did the mailing.

Fortunately, he did not fall into the common trap of
2000-2001 and the belief that the Internet would make all other forms of
communication obsolete. That really is not surprising when you understand that
Hatch's criteria for successful direct marketing are pretty stiff. In his
opinion, a successful direct mail effort not only has to produce immediate
results, but it also has to be a proven winner over at least three years.

We have a pretty tough time remembering a direct mail effort
we saw even last week, let alone three years ago. That only proves that most of
the money spent is a complete waste of time and dollars for the sending and
receiving parties. The only people who seem to have profited from it are the
designers, writers, printers and postal/overnight package services.

Whether you work for a company selling products to other
businesses or consumers, work with a nonprofit organization or are employed by
the government there is something to learn in this book. Get over the idea that
direct marketing is only crass advertising that clutters people's
mailboxes, inboxes or e-mail accounts. Think in terms of what your management
wants you to do--explain/sell a product or service; influence business
partners, consumers, industry influentials or governmental bodies. Relate what
the book's examples did for the companies' organizations and how
you can modify one or more of the examples to put some sizzle and results in
your activities.

A little creative thinking as to how the examples can be
used to fill all the seats at a press conference; deliver just the right
message to your market and financial analysts; produce favorable media coverage
for your company, its services or its products will go a long way in helping
your organization remain in business. It also can help ensure you have a job

Million Dollar Mailing$: The art and science of creating
money-making direct mail to make money on the Internet, by Denison Hatch,
August 2001, 500 pages. Bonus Books, Inc, 160 East Illinois Street, Chicago, IL

About the author

G.A. "Andy" Marken is president of Marken Communications, Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif. He may be reached at [email protected].