Denny’s Daily Zinger: A Junk Mail Letter So Real It’s a Lie.

Click to enlarge this illustration of fake handwriting.

Click to enlarge this illustration of fake handwriting, as seen at the Bridge Conference.

Peggy and I attended the wonderful Bridge Conference sponsored by the Direct Marketing Association of Washington.

One of the exhibitors was RST Marketing, Forest, Va.

A machine was cranking out endless “handwritten” letters with “hand-addressed” envelopes.

[See Illustration No. 1 in the media player at upper right.]

With RST, you can create a barrage of letters that appear to have been individually typed into a computer and then printed out.

The stopper: handwritten margin notes and a personalized P.S. in the same handwriting as the signature.

This technology is uncanny.

Takeaways to Consider
“The most important word in direct copy is not ‘you’—as many of the textbooks would have it—but ‘I,’ ” freelancer Richard Armstrong wrote to me. “What makes a letter seem ‘personal’ is not seeing your own name printed dozens of times across the page, or even being battered to death with a never ending attack of ‘you’s. It is, rather, the sense that one gets of being in the presence of the writer … that a real person sat down and wrote you a real letter.”

In all direct mail, the reader knows junk mail letters are mass-produced by a computer.

But as the great freelancer Bill Jayme said, “In the marketplace, as in theater, there is indeed a factor at work called ‘the willing suspension of disbelief.’ ”

With the RST technology, no suspension of disbelief is required.

Could the experts on “Antiques Road Show” spot one of these letters as a forgery?

Which, of course, it is.

Denny Hatch’s new book is “Write Everything Right!” Wes [Wesley Murph, The Marketing Maniac] writes, “I was just dropping you a line to let you know that I totally ‘dig’ your new book. I haven’t gotten through it all. But what I have read, I love. In particular, I really enjoy your style. You call a spade a spade. And what’s cool is nine times out of 10 you’re dead on the money. Keep up the great work!” Click here to download (opens as a PDF) and read the first three chapters FREE. The title is also available on Kindle. Reach Denny at

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

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  • LizK.

    No one has time to do handwritten letters anymore and if they are they are in the stone age. Plus all the capital letters like A are exactly the same. The only time the letters change is if it is at the start of the word – such as the h.

    When I get these I feel like I’m being conned and in the trash it goes. I got one from a dealership that was on an actual post-it note – again in the trash – who the heck does that? If it were real – the post it note was so unprofessional I’d toss it out anyway.

    If you really want to know – dab some water on the ink to see if it smears like regular pen ink. I’m an Antique’s Road Show fan.

  • Jim Gilbert

    Denny this surely beats the “you have to try this” post it note mailers from years past. I can definitely see testing this.

  • Mia Sherwood Landau

    Denny, this is such a great little commentary on life as we are coming to know it right now. Discerning the real from the unreal is becoming impossible, on TV, on the web and now in our own mailboxes. No area of our lives remains untouched by manipulation. Great post.

  • Ray Ammari


    Thank You,

    For years, I have been asking why no one has this – or developed this. Visiting their web site, I was impressed. How RST Marketing presents themselves and their innovative services really caught my eye. And my imagination! Their “UPS” mailer is another ingenious idea that needs to be tested. I am just starting out in DM. I look forward to testing these new innovations going forward. Obviously, one at a time. Thank You for bringing this to my attention.

  • Michael Bann

    We have a local source here in the Twin Cities. They can even match your personal penmenship. Funny we stil have not found many takers to pay the extra cost. The point is not if people like Liz are offended the only point is the results of the test. Generally the marketer is not worried with the one but with the many and i personally agree!!

  • Regis Garrity

    I know, catch a misspelling, don’t win a prize. But in the sample letter it should be “country’s” (possessive) not “countries” (plural). Accurate writing + personalization = potential winner.

  • Virginia Nicols

    I was first attracted by the reference to the handwriting technology. (I too remember when yellow “handwrittten” stickies came out.) But then I got to the taste test for your new book. Damn, I read every word precisely BECAUSE IT WAS EASIER TO READ THAN SKIP! (Easier, more fun, more satisfying, you name it!) Thanks so much, from a long-time fan.