Lois K. Geller

Lois K. Geller
Creative Corner: Lose the Attitude

I loved my dad dearly, especially for his remarkable aptitude for being wrong about just about everything. He was actually right about everything, but something in his complicated psyche made him say the exact opposite. My dad used to tell me, “You have to be tough to survive in this dog-eat-dog business world. Nice guys finish last.” Once I learned that his advice was 180 degrees from what he really meant, I knew he was telling me that it pays to be nice when you can. What Does “Nice” Have to do With Direct Marketing? I was thinking about this question yesterday when I came

Creative Corner: The Power of Taglines

As always, the Direct Marketing Association’s Conference and Exhibition has a theme. This year it’s “Customers Are on a Journey: Be the Destination!” I suppose I understand that. It’s a bit of a reach—and a command without a benefit—but at least I know what it means. Customers are looking for something, and your product should be it. It’s a tagline, and I love taglines. My all-time favorite tagline came from a tech company that wanted people to know its geniuses used their brain power to create brilliant products. So it came up with the tagline “Out of our minds.” My favorite spoof tagline was Jerry Della Femina’s

Creative Corner: Words of Wisdom

This May, I flew to New York to attend a memorial for my old friend and international direct marketing expert Al Goodloe, who died in February. Al, a little guy with a gravelly voice, was one of a kind. He was one of the nicest men I ever met, but he could be a mule. For instance, he was from Virginia and his dad expected him to attend the University of Virginia, like everyone else in the family. But Al set his sights on Harvard, and that’s where he went. After he graduated, Al wanted to be in New York, and that’s where he wound

And the Winner Is ?

By Lois K. Geller Cataloger Hoofprints.com caught our eye and got a free mini-makeover. In February's Creative Corner column, "It Only Hurts When You Laugh," I asked for submissions from folks interested in a free, mini-makeover from Mason & Geller. I didn't expect many entries, but Target Marketing readers surprised me. While there were a good deal of deserving entries, Hoofprints.com's owner, Gina Keesling, sent in an irresistible letter, complete with horseshoes running across it. A letter should sound like it comes from a human being at a company. Keesling's letter accompanying her catalog did. Most of the other entries came with a mini-makeover

Wow?What a Buzz!

With a little extra work, you too can generate powerful word-of-mouth By Lois K. Geller Things just seem to go wrong for me in hospitals. Not just things like long waits, hostile clerks, indifferent nurses and doctors who look like they should still be in grade school—those are just annoyances. The procedures terrify me, too. Like when an allergic reaction to simple iodine dye sent the top number in my blood pressure soaring into the 200s. So my knees were a bit shaky as I checked into Baptist Hospital in Kendall, Fla. for a small procedure. Imagine my astonishment when I got there.

Creative Corner: I’m a New Mover

So where are the direct mail campaigns? Greetings from Florida. I moved here permanently in the middle of June to be close to my mother. Now, instead of commuting from New York to Miami, I commute from Miami to New York. My staff, Michael, Dwain and Pepper, is down here with me, and the rest of our merry crew works out of our office in New Haven, Conn. Our new office is on the second floor of the lovely and brand-new Harbormaster’s office in a marina in Hollywood, which is about halfway between Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach. I like the view: water, yachts

Creative Corner: The Brand Promise

Create a memorable brand without compromising response A few days ago I took a quick break to zoom around the corner to see the fruit and vegetable man on 39th Street. I was starving! I asked him for four bananas and he said: “$1.25.” “Why,” I asked? “Yesterday they were only a dollar.” “These are Chiquitas,” he smiled. Did I notice the difference between bananas? No, but I forked over the extra quarter. On the way back to work, I ate one and pondered the little oval Chiquita label. Does the label make it a better banana? My perception is that it does. I

Creative Corner: Problem > Solution?

Position Your Offer as a Solution When you get down to it, everything we do in direct marketing is based on coming up with a solution to a problem. The way we sell our products and services is to identify people’s needs and wants, and then position our offerings as the fulfillment of those desires. When I think of problem/solution marketing, NetFlix immediately comes to mind. What’s the problem with Netflix? Nothing. As far as I can tell, it’s the perfect Internet-driven direct marketing business. In fact, it’s a solution to a problem. What problem? It goes back to the birth of the Internet,

Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

By Lois K. Geller It started with a phone call. A pleasant female voice asked, in delightfully accented English, did I want to speak about direct marketing in Istanbul? The next thing I knew, Mike McCormick, our creative director, and I were relaxing in the business-class section of Turkish airlines. Nine hours later, we met the wonderful Meltem Karateke, president of IMI Conferences and the greatest hostess in the world. Until then, I had only a vague idea of where Turkey is. I wasn't at all sure I wanted to go there, but it was a new and exotic place, and I'm a

We're #18. We Try Harder

By Lois K. Geller Do you remember the Avis No. 2 campaign? "We're #2, We Try Harder." It was brilliant. Hertz's reaction also was brilliant. In an article I read a few years ago, Lee Clow, chairman and chief creative officer of advertising agency TBWAWorldwide, recalled that the president of No. 1 Hertz told his ad agency something like this: "I don't want us to talk about efficiency, clean cars, price, anything like that. The competition can duplicate all those things tomorrow. What I want our advertising to do is to make people like us." Make people like you. What a concept. By the

A Lesson in Postal History

By Lois K. Geller It was a cold and snowy day in our nation's capital. I had just finished speaking at the Travel Learning Conference. My son, Paul, came by to tell me he had a real treat in store for me. The snow in Washington, D.C., was 4 inches deep and looked as if it would get much worse. I silently hoped that the treat involved a fireplace and maybe chamomile tea, but I knew better. Just as I feared, the treat involved more of a Valley Forge experience. We donned heavy boots, bundled up and trudged through the suddenly cab-less streets. As

Blazing New Trails Takes NERVE

By Lois K. Geller Last week I went to an off-Broadway musical called "Hank Williams: Lost Highway" with a friend of mine. Williams was a small town Alabama boy who became a great country singer in the late 1940s. Jason Petty plays Williams in "Lost Highway." To me, Jason and his backup group sounded better than the great Hank Williams, and I said so to my friend as we left the theater. "Well, sure" she said, "He was imitating. Hank didn't imitate. He wrote new music, wrote new lyrics, arranged everything by himself and recorded every song in single takes. He did things

The Power of "Thank You" (1,206 words)

By Lois K. Geller A little effort and a personal touch go a long way. For the last year or so, I've been noodling about different ideas for creative in relationship marketing. I included customer service in this realm, too. So much of what I see and hear in both areas is blatantly self-serving, artificial and sometimes just flat out nonsense. How is it supposed to work? Then, last month, I got an interesting perspective on a speaking tour. All while hopping on one foot because I'd broken the other one. Everywhere I went, people stopped to talk about this

On the Road in Cheesesteak City

By Lois K. Geller Last week, I got lucky. I went to Philadelphia, my hometown, where I haven't been in ages (except for quick trips for meetings). My son, Paul, drove me because I'd broken my foot a week earlier racing for a cab. I'd been invited to deliver the keynote speech at the Philadelphia Direct Marketing Association (PDMA) Conference. I give many speeches, and I've discovered that I get a pretty good impression of a group months before the actual event. I had a great feeling about the PDMA, because the organizers were terrific. So I wasn't surprised—as Paul supported me through