Creative

Magalogs: Design ’Em to Be Read
May 24, 2006

“In a magalog, copy is king, and I’m just here to help get people to read it,” proclaims designer Lori Haller, proprietor of Shadow Oak Studio, Germantown, Md. “I’ll throw in some exciting things to tease them, drag them along, pull them to the next page and the next page. Until I’ve made them want to read the whole thing, so that on the last page, they can’t wait to sign up. It’s a whole progression—like a rocket.” So what are some of the techniques that fuel her designs? Color, size, leading, bursts and bolding, to name just a few. Here, Haller shares a

Eight Hot Spots for Direct Mail Typos
May 10, 2006

Where are the eight most likely places in a direct mail campaign for a typo to appear? According to Gayl Curtiss, managing director of The Hacker Group, a direct marketing agency in Bellevue, Wash., marketers should pay close attention to the following elements of their direct mail campaigns: 1. Phone numbers, both call and fax—it’s easy to transpose numbers. 2. The company’s name—anywhere it appears. 3. Signatory’s name—you often don’t have a proofing tool to verify the correct spelling. 4. Terms and conditions—proofers often don’t read them. 5. Address information—wherever it appears. 6. Headlines—they’re big and people blow right through them. 7. Letter set-up—vendors often retype perfect copy from laser mechanicals. 8.

Response Down?
February 1, 2006

This past November, former Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy died at the age of 89. It was McCarthy, a bookish, low-key intellectual, who, you’ll recall, startled the country and the world by announcing he would challenge the incumbent president, Lyndon B. Johnson, for the 1968 Democratic nomination. Johnson was mired in the Vietnam War with hundreds of body bags coming home every week. McCarthy made his announcement in the Senate Caucus Room in the Capitol. He said, “My decision to challenge the president’s position and the administration position has been strengthened by recent announcements of the administration, the evident intention to escalate and to intensify the

Stretch Your Postal Dollars
January 1, 2006

The new year is a good time to review your direct mail efforts and look for opportunities to get more from your investment. Whenever you're paying for postage, you want your mail piece to work as hard as possible to achieve your marketing goals. With that in mind, here are 15 suggestions to help you maximize your direct mail investment in 2006.

Room to Grow
December 1, 2005

Highlights for Children was a 43-year-old magazine with a strong brand before marketing any other offerings to its core customers: parents of young children. In 1946, Dr. Garry Cleveland Myers and his wife Caroline Clark Myers founded Highlights for Children Inc. The privately-held company flourished with a single product—Highlights for Children® magazine—throughout four full decades before deciding it was time to grow its brand and its business. Today, Highlights for Children Inc. houses under its corporate umbrella several kids’ book club programs, a toy and game catalog, and an interactive Web site. “We are now much more than a single magazine for children.

The Passing of Ed McLean
December 1, 2005

In the 1970s—before telemarketing, infomercials and spam—direct mail was the main response medium. And like every medium, direct mail had its stars—a charmed circle of brilliant copywriters whose names were synonymous with big results and big fees. Among them: Bill Jayme, Chris Stagg, Frank Johnson, Linda Wells, David Ogilvy, Maxwell Sackheim and Ed McLean. With the passing of Ed McLean on Aug. 13 at age 77 after a long illness, the last of the great stars has ceased to shine. McLean was a very special guy—short, funny as hell, with a small mustache and an impish smile. He was enormously supportive when my wife,

Explore Your Postage Options
November 1, 2005

Postage can do more than just get your mail delivered. Your mailbox tells the story. Most direct mail bears ho-hum, routine-looking postage, whether it’s a stamp, metered postage or a preprinted indicia. Sure, it does its job. It gets the mail piece delivered. But if you’re the direct marketer paying for the postage, you also should consider how to make your postage investment work harder to: - make your mail piece stand out from the rest of the stack; - make it look important and valuable enough to get past the mail screener; and - get it opened and read, instead of

Oops: 6 Tips to Avoid Direct Mail Gaffes
March 1, 2005

Have you ever received a piece of mail that prompted you to think, “Oops! I wonder what they were they thinking when they mailed me this?” My first tip for avoiding these direct mail blunders is to put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving your mail. Do this and you’re almost guaranteed to avoid the following problems. Timing Is Everything This past Nov. 24—the day before Thanksgiving—I received two different holiday gift catalogs already proclaiming, “It’s not too late—Christmas delivery guaranteed!” and, “There’s still time to order!” With Christmas more than a month away, the “It’s not too late” message is

Creative Corner: Technology Is Great
December 1, 2004

... until it eliminates the human factor. This past year, Mason & Geller relocated to Florida. Why’d we come? Well, we have clients down here, and I’m closer to my 93-year-old mom. We also cut our office overhead by about 70 percent. Then there’s the weather, the beaches and the laid-back lifestyle. Except for hurricanes, it’s been great. We all miss New York, but we’d be crazy to go back. Why didn’t we make this move years ago? Simple. We didn’t have the low-cost technology—or the low-cost air travel—that lets us work in an out-of-the-way marina in Hollywood, Fla. Now, with clients all

Hook Them With Your Copy
November 1, 2004

If you can get people to spend more time reading your direct mail, you’re likely to generate more response One of the most eye-opening things I’ve learned during my 25-year career of writing direct mail copy is that people don’t read every word I write—even those who truly are interested in what I’m selling. And they certainly don’t read it from start to finish. Instead, most people scan copy, looking for reasons either to keep reading … or toss it. Even those who ultimately respond spend less than three or four minutes reading the copy it took you (or your writer) days or weeks