Strategy Session: Think Like a Direct Marketer
Many years ago, when I was first hired at Ogilvy & Mather, the executive creative director said, "We're offering you a job as a junior copywriter ... but you can't write well."
I was astonished. "If I can't write," I stammered, "why hire me as a writer?"
"Because you can think," she answered. "We can always teach you to write."
Now whether or not they succeeded is still an open issue, but one of the things
I'm going to attempt to do in this column is not just share my ideas or techniques with you, but also the thinking behind them. When something worked, I'll share it with you. But so you won't make the same mistakes that I have, I'll also share when I fell flat on my face.
My intention is to get you thinking like a direct marketer, which is not as easy as it sounds.
Let me give you three examples.
The Scatological Self-Mailer
I recently spent a day with a leading company that helps students prepare for their college and graduate school tests. It used a self-mailer with a photograph of a No. 2 pencil on it. The headline read, "Does the SAT or ACT Scare the No. 2 Out of You?"
It's admittedly a funny and creative headline, and the firm markets to college kids, but there's a problem. Many people feel these are the most important tests of their lives!
Think back to the days when you were taking these tests. It may have been the SATs, the LSATs for law school or even the MCATs for medical school. You may have been trying to get into a specific school. You were competing with hundreds, if not thousands, of other students. Your SAT or ACT scores were vitally important to you. And so, this headline was remarkably off the mark.