Famous Last Words: Of Underwear, Aspirin and MBAs
Promotional copy I did not write:
“As the kick-off to NEDMA ’06, at the much heralded Direct Marketer of the Year Awards Banquet on June 14, we will be graced by the presence of none other than legendary direct mail guru, Denny Hatch.”
“Legendary direct mail guru?” Gimme a break! Peter Drucker once said people use the word “guru” because nobody can spell “charlatan.”
However, the theme of the NEDMA (New England Direct Marketing Association) bash is, “It’s a Brave New World.” The title of my talk? “In a brave new world, old is better.”
In college I was a D+ student and skinned out of Columbia with a B.A. in English. During my career, I turned around two businesses (Better Homes & Gardens Family Book Service and Target Marketing magazine) and started one business (WHO’S MAILING WHAT!).
With no advanced degree, I was always made to feel inferior by M.B.A.s and Ph.D.s, whom I found uppity and not very knowledgeable. When I said so, I was excoriated by those who had the degrees and those who hired them.
So it was with great pleasure that I read in a March 21, 2006 AdAge.com story that I was right all along. In a story titled “M.B.A.’s May Be a Marketing Liability,” Jack Neff wrote:
“CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) — A Master of Business Administration degree is not only worthless, it can work against a marketer, according to a survey of marketing executives from 32 consumer-products companies by consulting firm Ken Coogan & Partners. The study found that marketing executives from under-performing companies were twice as likely to have been recruited out of M.B.A. programs than marketing executives from out-performing companies.”
When I show up at NEDMA and proclaim that “In the brave new world, old is better,” maybe people will listen because I am NOT an M.B.A., but rather the product of the old-fashioned apprentice system. I learned at the feet of practitioners, not teachers, theoreticians and Internet wunderkind.