Meet the Masters: Alan Rosenspan
President of Alan Rosenspan & Associates, Alan and his teams have won more than 100 awards for creativity and results, including 18 DMA Echo Awards. He has also been a judge of the Echoes, the Caples, the European Direct Marketing Association (EDMA) Best of Europe Awards and the international judge of the RSVP Awards in New Zealand. Rosenspan is the creator of the "Creative Strategy" course for the Direct Marketing Association, and has led seminars and workshops in 18 different countries, as well as for dozens of corporate clients and associations. He also has been a direct marketing instructor at Bentley College for the past 11 years. Alan's articles have been published in various direct marketing magazines, and he is an author and contributor to three books on direct marketing. He now pauses to reflect on backyard carnivals, Jiffy Lube and the incomparable David Ogilvy.
Q: What was your first job?
A: Even when I was a kid, I was always doing something. Delivering newspapers on my bike, mowing lawns. I even set up carnivals in my backyard. In school, I worked on a moving van, and asked the owner to write me a letter of recommendation. My favorite line? "Alan picks up things easily."
Q: What made you begin a career in the advertising/marketing industry?
A: A dare. A friend showed me a creativity test that Ogilvy & Mather published in a college newspaper. I took the test along with about 350 other people, and they invited 30 of us in for a weekend training session. They hired two of us, including me. Years later, when I was appointed creative director of the Hong Kong office, I thanked David Ogilvy personally.
Q: In terms of securing a client, what is the most daunting task copywriters face today?
A: As a copywriter, you have to realize that the actual writing is the least important part of your job. In my experience, most companies are hungryeven starvingfor creative ideas about their business. All you have to do is feed them. My philosophy has always been to give clients as many ideas as possible. They always come back for more.
Q: What copywriter(s) have had the most influence on your craft and why?
A: I think I've read virtually every book on advertising and direct marketing. I've learned from the real masters like John Caples, Max Sackheim, Bill Jayme, Ray Jutkins, Robert Bly, George Lois, Stan Rapp, Bill Bernbach and, of course, David Ogilvy.
Q: What has been your most memorable direct mail campaign?
A: My favorites are the ones that worked best. My team developed the first check package to win customers back to AT&T. We never dreamed it would be that successfulor copied by everyone else! But it multiplied response. All told, we won back over 11 million customers.
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: The answer to that changes constantly. Look at my bookshelves at home, and it seems like 14 different people live there, with completely different interests and tastes. But once I find an author I like, I read everything they've ever written. I'm currently reading Michael Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things."
From a marketing point of view, an excellent book is "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion," by Dr. Robert Cialdini. If you want to learn how to motivate more people to respond, read this book.
Q: Any funny direct marketing snafus over the course of your career?
A: Funny? No. Snafus: Everybody has them. A few years ago, I did a direct mail package for a major investment company on Sector funds. I did a year's worth of research in two weeks, and put together a masterful six-panel 8-1/2" x 11" brochure. It had everything you always wanted to know about Sector funds, and was full of compelling facts, fascinating charts and scintillating statistics. The only problem? This was supposed to be a lead generation packageand the offer was a "Free Guide to Sector Funds." After reading my brochure, there was no need to send in for it. Ouch!
Q: Which companies do you find market best one-to-one?
A: It's always changing. One example I use in my seminars is Jiffy Lube. When they change your oil, they put a sticker on your car reminding you to come by a certain date or specific mileage. And if you don't come back, they come and get you by sending you a card that says, "We Missed You ... at 29,450 miles." That's smart database marketingnot from IBM or American Expressjust Jiffy Lube. And if they can do it so well, so can we.