What Dickens Did for Direct
Charles Dickens the Victorian era author, should be considered the Great-grandfather of Direct.
What Dickens did for the business of direct marketing is history.
For example, Dickens gave us:
* “Buy One, Get one Free”
* Continuity and club programs
* White mail
* Seasonality studies
* Chat rooms
* Contrast pricing
* Installment payments
* Market research
* Customer relationship
And these are just the beginning. To this list you also can add that he was the great-grandfather of soap operas and paperback books.
When Dickens came up with all these innovations he was only 23 years old and had just written “Pickwick Papers,” his first novel.
But no publisher was willing to publish a novel written by a young and unknown author, particularly, with novels out by such well-known authors as William Thackeray (who wrote “Vanity Fair”); the three Bronte sisters, Emily, Anne and Charlotte (who wrote “Jane Eyre”); and George Eliot (whose real name was Mary Ann Evans). Tough competition for a neophyte author.
But Dickens was a creative thinker, and suggested the publisher charge a goodly number of pounds to sell his novel. At this suggestion, the publisher came back with, “Good God, no one would pay a tenth of that even for a Sir Walter Scott novel.”
Marketing strategist Dickens had a n answer for that, too, saying, “I will write a long novel and sell it in 20 installments. Each month I will write just three chapters, which you can sell for one shilling per month.”
The publisher threw up his hands saying, “At one shilling, I will go broke. It costs me three shillings just to produce the book. At your price of one shilling, I would lose two shillings a month.”
Marketing tactician Dickens had an answer for this too, holding up a book and saying, “Your covers are made of wood pulp, and this is very expensive. For my books, print the covers in paper, the same as you use for the inside pages.”