2001 Direct Marketer of the Year
After a brief tour of duty with Colonial Penn in Philadelphia, Brandt moved to California where she joined Education Today and reported to Tom Ryder (now chairman of Reader's Digest) and circulation guru John Klingel, both of whom became mentors. During her 10 years in California, she briefly worked for the liberal fund-raiser Richard Parker Associates and, for several years, ran her own consulting agency.
She returned to the East and spent three-and-a-half years with Newfield Publications, which had acquired Xerox Education Publications and published the Weekly Reader products, as well as crafts clubs and continuity series such as McCall's Cooking School.
The move to America Online
AOL went public in 1992. The following year, Steve Case hired Jan Brandt as vice president of marketing. AOL's headquarters were located on two rented floors of a dilapidated building in Tyson's Corner, VA; visitors would find the receptionist doubling as the mail sorter. At that time, the main source of members for the three competitors—AOL, Prodigy and CompuServe—was their partnership with computer manufacturers. Computers were loaded with Internet access software from one of the three and membership was commissionable.
The Evolution of the Offer
The other method of distribution by the two competitors was joint venture deals whereby the companies sold their books and software at retailers such as Borders, CompUSA and Barnes & Noble. At the time, all three were charging for the software as well as for per-hour usage.
In the early 1990s, the benchmark direct mail package was CompuServe's long-term control created by freelancer Sol Blumenfeld, a 6˝x9˝ four-color effort with a briefcase premium. The offer:
YES! I want access to CompuServe. Please enter my name as a Preferred Member and rush me a Membership kit. I understand that my one-time payment of $25.00* (plus $3.00 shipping and handling) gives me Lifetime Access to CompuServe while a member in good standing.