Your Signature is Your Handshake
By Denny Hatch
Many years ago, freelancer Malcolm Decker wrote a major analysis of the direct mail package for my newsletter, Who's Mailing What! (now Inside Direct Mail). Decker likened direct mail to a sales team, with the envelope knocking on the door, the letter being the main salesman and the brochure acting as the demonstrator—a third member of the team who sits nearby and points to photos, graphs, charts, and illustrations and says, in effect, "See, everything the main salesmen (the letter) says is true."
Decker wrote, "Be sure the right person signs the letters."
Some time ago, two investors' newsletters—Advance Planning Letter and Investors World Intelligent Report—sent out long, highly technical promotional letters filled with forecasts with recommendations. The former was signed by Bobbie Bunch, assistant to the publisher; the latter was signed by Joan Pendergraft, executive assistant to Sid Pulitzer. Obviously neither wrote the letter, so believability is out the window.
Don't overlook the color, size and vitality of your signature; it's your salesman's handshake.
Even people who aren't graphologists pick up insight from the way a name is signed. It's interesting to compare the signatures of Carolyn Davis (Reader's Digest) or Carol Wright (Carol Wright cooperative program) with those of Salvador Dali or Gloria Vanderbilt. Ask yourself why the former are so lackluster and the latter are so distinctive.
Carolyn Davis of Reader's Digest is an interesting character. Many years ago, all Digest billing efforts went out to subscribers signed by "CD"—code for "credit department." Circulation Director Walter Weintz was one of my early employers. It was Weintz who invented the Penny Mailing (two live pennies showing through the window of an envelope) and who wrote the first political mailing (for Eisenhower) that asked for money. He thought CD should be a real person and came up with the moniker Carolyn Davis—an inoffensive name whose signature was at the bottom of tens of millions of Reader's Digest efforts for more than 50 years, right up until today.