Why Obama Is Unstoppable
I immediately started building an archive of junk mail, created a system to quantify and qualify the stuff, and reported on it in my newsletter, WHO’s MAILING WHAT!
Today, the WHO’S MAILING WHAT! archive has information on more than 200,000 mailings in 200 categories—business, consumer and nonprofit—going back 20 years. It includes marketing gold—nearly 1,000 grand controls that were mailed for three or more consecutive years.
“Creating direct mail without studying other people’s successful direct mail,” said guru Axel Andersson, “is like trying to do brain surgery without studying brains.”
If I were to posit one single rule—or secret—from 25 years of collecting and analyzing junk mail, it's this: All the communications techniques invented and tested by the great junk mail marketers of the 19th and 20th centuries—content and design—are absolutely relevant to e-commerce in the 21st century.
I will take this one step further: One reason for the dot-com bust of 2000 that caused $5 trillion to evaporate was that the smarty-pants 20-something geeks that set up the systems and protocols—and conned the same dim-witted and greedy investors responsible for the subprime crash—didn't know squat about direct marketing, tapping into human emotions or how to monetize a business model.
Political Direct Mail
An early mentor in my career was Walter Weintz, the pioneer of political campaign fundraising. As circulation director of Reader’s Digest, in 1952 he was put on detached duty by DeWitt Wallace to create direct mail for Ohio Sen. Robert A. Taft’s campaign for president, and later for Dwight D. Eisenhower, who won the nomination.
It was Weintz who first asked for contributions of money. His rationale: (1) An influx of cash would help pay for the direct mail campaigns, and (2) those who sent money have a stake on the outcome—like betting on a horse. They want their candidate to win, so they will spread the word among friends, family, neighbors and business colleagues.