Axel Andersson: Entrepreneur Extraordinaire!
He built a huge empire based on great copyNovember 5, 2013 By Denny Hatch
Many young direct marketers have indicated total disinterest in direct mail. "Direct mail is dead," I have been told over and over again since the mid-1990s. "This is the era of the Internet—a new medium and a new paradigm with new rules of marketing and communication. We make the rules now."
IMPORTANT, PLEASE NOTE
Everything that follows directly relates to the Internet, e-commerce, the Web or whatever you want to call it.
"Human nature is perpetual," wrote Claude Hopkins in his 1924 masterpiece, Scientific Advertising:
In most respects it is the same today as in the time of Caesar. So the principles of psychology are fixed and enduring. You will never need to unlearn what you learn about them.
The great John Caples reduced the Hopkins dictum to four words:
Times change; people don't.
Quite simply, if a great offer plus great copy works in print, it will work online.
Axel Andersson was a stocky little Swede with a cherubic face and a shock of wavy white hair. He cut his Terry-Thomas teeth on direct marketing under the guidance of the legendry Ed Mayer in New York.
Following World War II, Axel moved to Hamburg, Germany where he bought a correspondence-school business. He offered courses in languages, writing and art to name a few. Single-handedly he turned the Axel Andersson Akademy into the largest operation of is kind in Europe.
After 30 years, he sold out and moved to Florida so he could indulge in his passions: warm weather and studying direct mail.
Axel's retirement beat:
- Florida (walking the beach two hours a day)
- The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (where he poured over obscure tomes on marketing)
- Europe (to visit clients)
- Stamford, Conn. (and later Philly) to spend hours prowling through Peggy's and my Who's Mailing What! archive of junk mail.
Andersson cut a deal with me whereby I would send him all my leftover mail—the dupes and purges that would otherwise be thrown out of our massive library of direct mail samples.
I probably sent Andersson 50,000 mailings a year.
He rented a whole house in Palm Harbor just to house his collection.