Bto B Insights Book Smarts
By Russell Kern
In interview after interview, I ask copywriters and account managers who are applying for a position with my firm, "What have you read recently?" Too often the answer I get is a blank stare.
OK, maybe they didn't understand my question. So, I get more specific: "What have you ever read to give you the background necessary to be a direct marketing professional?"
Again, in most of these situations their answers barely touch the wealth of marketing classics and up-to-the-moment marketing and business books available.
This leaves me wondering: How can they become master craftsmen, if they never study the grand masters of direct marketing? All the techniques, strategies and millions of dollars of knowledge are revealed in our industry's books. Thus, a million-dollar career can be created by whoever is willing to invest in himself.
Before I present my list of top summer reads, I want to start with one key premise about the importance of studying from the masters: Human nature and the psychology that creates response behavior hasn't changed in 50 years.
Even with Bluetooth-enabled telephones, wireless laptops and Internet-based marketing, the basic drivers of human motivation remain unchanged. The interplay and relationship between these human drivers in advertising and their impact on response were carefully measured and documented by grand masters like David Ogilvy, and John Caples.
For example, Victor Schwab's list of these basic drivers of human motivation, developed in 1950, has stood the test of time (visit the "Web Exclusives" section at www.targetmarketingmag.com to see Schwab's list). So have these books on direct marketing.
The Classic Big Five Reads
- "Tested Advertising Methods" by John Caples--This quick read will ground you in the true motivators of human nature. Head-to-head test comparisons show you what works and what doesn't. While the examples are dated, the concepts are timeless.
- "Confessions of an Advertising Man" by David Ogilvy--This classic reveals David Ogilvy's insights and revelations about how and why different advertising works. Based on his careful study from being a market researcher, Ogilvy presents the case for the relationship between typography treatment, readership and response. A must for any creative person.
- "Ogilvy on Advertising" by David Ogilvy--This is THE classic of classics. Ogilvy presents his rules, backed up by response results, on everything from reverse type to long headlines and the use of captions under photos. How can you write a winning package or manage an integrated campaign without putting his wisdom to work?
- "2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success" by Denny Hatch and Don Jackson--This compendium of tips, techniques and wisdom from leaders, including Robert Hacker, Cecil Hodge Sr. and Emily Soell, among many others, is a wealth of knowledge and an invaluable resource.
- "Million Dollar Mailing$" by Denny Hatch--This encyclopedia of direct mail marketing has examples of the greatest control mailings. While dated in their look, the copy appeals are timeless. A study of The Wall Street Journal's "Two Young Men" control reveals how the writer made a highly emotional case for the value of reading the Journal, which drove subscription sales to record highs. It's copy brilliance like this that we must strive for to make emotional contact with our audiences.
Five Must-reads for Career Advancement
- "My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising" by Claude Hopkins--Written by the grandfather of direct marketing, this is a must-read classic.
- "How to Write a Good Advertisement" by Victor Schwab--Again, a timeless tome that will give any direct marketer the foundation he needs to write compelling copy.
- "Direct Mail Workshop" by Rene Gnam--This workbook is filled with expert advice from real-world campaigns that delivered results. All it takes is one great headline, a powerful lead-in line or a great P.S. to move your response needle. Gnam's guidance makes it possible.
- "Powerful Advertising Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters and Mail Order Entrepreneurs" by Joseph Sugarman--Sugarman sold millions of ant farms and "potato spud guns." He knows how to make a product and an offer come alive. This is a classic copy resource.
- "Business-to-Business Direct Marketing" by Robert Bly--This is one of my favorites and a true must-read by a great direct marketing writer. Bly delivers his lessons through relevant examples and well-articulated explanations.
Direct Marketing Foundation Must-reads
- "Direct Marketing: Strategy, Planning and Execution" by Ed Nash--A fundamental background on direct marketing; if you're a newcomer to the industry, read it now. If you are a seasoned pro, a reread is sure to bring you some fresh ideas.
- "Business-to-Business Marketing" by Victor L. Hunter--People buy from people, not companies. Complex B-to-B sales transactions are consummated when the buyers have trust in the sellers. Learn the power and value of building a community and how to use it to help drive your sales process.
- "The New Direct Marketing: How to Implement a Profit-Driven Database Marketing Strategy" by David Shepard--This large text is the definitive resource on the topic. If you want to understand the mechanics of how to make database marketing deliver, this is the read.
- "The Fundamentals of Business-to-Business Sales and Marketing" by John Coe--Coe is an expert on database marketing and B-to-B marketing. He addresses the most critical issue in B-to-B marketing, that of connecting marketing activity to sales results.
- "S.U.R.E.-Fire. Direct Marketing: Managing Business-to-Business Sales Leads for Bottom-Line Success" by Russell M. Kern--A great resource to learn about strategic planning, the use of qualitative and quantitative research, response management, and the details of execution, from offer presentation to copy strategy.
As mentioned above, the basic drivers of human motivation, and thus people's response behavior, have not changed since their identification more than 50 years ago by advertising great Victor Schwab. In case you don't have this list committed to memory, below is Schwab's findings. In fact, it's not a bad idea to print out this page and stick it to your bulletin board as a constant reminder of the pressure points your campaigns should be hitting.
People want to GAIN:
5. Improved appearance
6. Security in old age
7. Praise from others
10. Pride of accomplishment
12. Increased enjoyment
14. Personal prestige
They want to DO:
1. Express their personalities
2. Resist domination by others
3. Satisfy their curiosity
4. Emulate the admirable
5. Appreciate beauty
6. Acquire or collect things
7. Win others' affection
8. Improve themselves
They want to BE:
1. Good parents
2. Sociable, hospitable
5. Proud of their possessions
6. Influential over others
9. "First" in things
10. Recognized as authorities
They want to SAVE:
8. Personal embarrassment
Russell Kern is president of The Kern Organization, a fully integrated offline and online direct marketing agency in Woodland Hills, Calif. He can be reached at (818) 703-8775, or by visiting www.thekernorg.com.