Famous Last Words: The Wisdom of Milt Pierce
I have known Milt Pierce for many years as a world-class freelance copywriter of direct mail, space ads and TV commercials, and teacher of direct marketing at New York University.
Now direct marketing entrepreneur Bob Bly has assembled a fascinating compendium of Milt Pierce’s work over the years and published it as an e-book with the intriguing title, “Milt Pierce’s Marketing Success Secrets.”
With all the razzle-dazzle of data warehousing, Internet marketing, co-op databases, myriad list appends and content-management systems, the old true, tried and tested rules of direct marketing tend to get shoved into a mental bottom drawer and ignored. In fact, a great many newbies to the business never learned the basic rules—or secrets—of marketing in the first place. Hence the dot-com bust of 2000 that cost investors billions and thousands of dewy-eyed, hotshot greenhorns their jobs.
So, “Milt Pierce’s Marketing Success Secrets” comes at a propitious time.
Swipe Files—Essential to Success!
Readers of this publication know that I first achieved notoriety by amassing a giant archive of direct mail and using it to start the newsletter, WHO’S MAILING WHAT! (now called Inside Direct Mail). But why did I start collecting this stuff? For the same reason Milt Pierce says you should collect it:
I have a swipe file. I have used that file for years. I keep adding to it, week after week. And when a client comes to me and asks, “Can you write a direct mail package for me?” I smile and say, “Yes,” with the full knowledge that I shall go running to my swipe file to get ideas for copy and ideas for formats and ideas for headlines and ideas for a million other things.
Some writers will take a direct mail package and break it into its component parts. Then they will create a file for good letters, a file for good sales brochures, a file for good lift letters, a file for good outer envelopes and a file for good order forms.
I do not think this makes sense. After all, a direct mail package is an organic unit. It may be composed of a dozen different parts, but it has a unity that declares, in no uncertain terms, that this was created by a single human being.
(If this were not the case, we would be hiring one copywriter to create the sales letter and another to create the lift letter and another to create the brochure and still another to create the outer envelope. How absurd!)
“A good swipe file,” Pierce adds, “is better than a college education.” And remember, all this invaluable research comes into your mailbox FREE!
Among the many treasures to be found in Bly’s e-book:
* “The Daniel Hodes checklist for preparing political direct mail”;
* “25 ways to improve collections by mail”;
* “10 tips for writing and testing telephone scripts”;
* “Beware these common telemarketing blunders”;
* “Pitfalls in testing: testing too few lists and the temptation to over-test”;
* “What is the most important part of a direct mail package?”;
* “When is the best time to test a mailing? Why is this the best time?”;
* “Are hot line names worth the extra cost?”;
* “When will a sweepstakes actually depress returns?”;
* “The world’s most powerful collection letter”;
* “50 questions to ask BEFORE you test direct mail copy”; and
* “50 question to ask AFTER you have written copy.”
I always have said that if you buy a book on direct marketing and come away with just five money-making ideas, you’ve gotten your money’s worth.
You will find dozens of useful ideas in “Milt Pierce’s Marketing Success Secrets” as well as have a very enjoyable read. At just $39 for a PDF version (www.miltsmarketingsecrets.com), it’s a bargain. At least have a look!
Denny Hatch is a freelance direct marketing consultant and copywriter. Visit him at www.dennyhatch.com, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.