The Secret of Starting an Instantly Successful Business
FDR had in his head what Katie Couric does not. He is generally acknowledged to be one of the great presidents.
Knowing Your Audience
In an early edition of my newsletter, WHO’S MAILING WHAT!, the great freelance copywriter, Malcolm Decker, described how he goes about writing a direct mail letter:
I develop as clear a profile of my prospect as the available research offers and then try to match it up with someone I know and “put him in a chair” across from me. Then I write to him more or less conversationally.
This concept is spot-on, not only in terms of writing copy but also starting a business, running a business or expanding a business. The fledgling entrepreneur who dreams up a product or service, invests in producing it and then, after the fact, gets around to figuring out who will buy it—and how to market it—will lose a lot of money.
Why I Started a Business
When I was fired from my agency job in 1976, I decided to give freelance direct mail copywriting a shot. I doubled my income the first year and doubled that the second year.
But direct mail was tough. Unlike space advertising, which is immediately available the day a magazine or newspaper is published—direct mail is secret and those that created it are secretive.
I would get an assignment and wonder what would be the best approach—envelope size, length of letter, size of brochure (if a brochure at all). My work was intuitive, not based on known information.
A number of times in this publication I have mentioned hearing Dorothy Kerr, then circulation director of U.S. News & World Report at a Direct Mail Writers Guild luncheon in New York. “The way to be successful in this business is to see who’s mailing what,” Kerr said. “Watch for those mailings that keep coming in over and over again—which means that they are controls and making money—and then steal smart.”