Direct-Mail Money Makers

April 24, 2003
How to implement a successful marketing plan via a direct-mail campaign

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

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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 tomorrow.

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 60611.

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