I agree. Another reader raised the same point and here was my response: “Small companies—whether they be digital printers or the corner dry cleaner or retailers—-are generally good at what they do, but are not expert marketers. Nor can they afford expert marketers—ad writers, strategists, etc. One of the problems I found when I ran Target Marketing magazine—a direct marketing trade publication—was that advertisers complained they got little response. One reason was that the advertiser never made an offer—never gave a reason to respond.” Sigh…
The late, great guru Ed Mayer suggested that success in direct mail depends on the following formula: 40 percent lists, 40 percent offer and 20 percent everything else.” Ed was the person who got me into direct marketing ... back in the late ‘50’s. I took his one week saturation course and he became such a close personal friend that he gave me the key to his Sutton Place apartment to use when he was out of town.
—Peter K. Crone
Another excellent piece, Denny (“When a Marketer Breaks All the Rules”). Do you know who did the Vermillion creative? It looks like one of those situations where a general ad agency assured the client that “of course we do direct response” and then pulled out all the stops in typical “cult of creativity” fashion. You alluded to this is your last take-away bullet point, but didn’t explicitly get into the whole general vs. direct agency issue, and the fact that in so many situations the former literally don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to direct response.
I loved your review of Vermillion in “When a Marketer Breaks All the Rules”, and wanted to see if you could expand on “Cleverness and humor have no place in direct marketing”—I just ran a postcard campaign with 1 funny/clever image (within our company brand) and 1 serious image (same tagline, same call to action, features, benefits)—I’d love to send images of the creative—in any event the funny one is not doing well at all. So why is that the clever aspect means that the sale is lost ... wouldn’t it generate show-a-friend (same as in the email space) or at least keep our company/brand top of mind for the recipient?
—Charles Dupin de Saint Cyr