She began life after college as a school teacher before getting a job in the circulation department of a small magazine in New York City. That was when Caroline Zimmermann began to learn about direct marketing, including how much she liked it, to the point that she next got a job at a boutique direct marketing agency, where she became fascinated by both the art and the science of direct marketing—including whether or not her promotions worked.
"Perhaps it's why I gave up teaching. I liked the idea of getting a report card from my clients more than giving them out," says Zimmermann, who I recently enjoyed an extended conversation with about copywriting, design and her invention of the iconic, effective voucher that every publishing company now relies upon for revenue.
Clearly, she's since received many stellar report cards from her clients, especially after she ventured out on her own and created the Zimmermann Agency in Brookville, N.Y. Zimmermann has created literally dozens of "control busters" in nearly every business category for companies like Chase Manhattan Bank, Time Inc. Magazines, American Express Publishing, Columbia House, Hearst Magazines, Hachette Filipacchi and others. For example, she has all the controls for Kiplinger's Personal Finance and Discover Magazine, including acquisition, expires, renewals for gift giving, insert mail, etc.
Indeed, 40 years after beginning in the direct mail industry, Zimmermann is again a teacher, this time concerning the principles of solid direct marketing, running a business as both a copywriter and designer, and the ongoing evolution of the powerful voucher.
Boldt: After starting your own copywriting business, why did you decide to become a direct mail designer as well?
Zimmermann: I didn't get into design until about halfway through my current career, but getting into design was probably the biggest thing that happened to me in terms of making a really meaningful contribution to direct response and to developing winning packages.