Stretch Your Postal Dollars
January 1, 2006

The new year is a good time to review your direct mail efforts and look for opportunities to get more from your investment. Whenever you're paying for postage, you want your mail piece to work as hard as possible to achieve your marketing goals. With that in mind, here are 15 suggestions to help you maximize your direct mail investment in 2006.

Room to Grow
December 1, 2005

Highlights for Children was a 43-year-old magazine with a strong brand before marketing any other offerings to its core customers: parents of young children. In 1946, Dr. Garry Cleveland Myers and his wife Caroline Clark Myers founded Highlights for Children Inc. The privately-held company flourished with a single product—Highlights for Children® magazine—throughout four full decades before deciding it was time to grow its brand and its business. Today, Highlights for Children Inc. houses under its corporate umbrella several kids’ book club programs, a toy and game catalog, and an interactive Web site. “We are now much more than a single magazine for children.

The Passing of Ed McLean
December 1, 2005

In the 1970s—before telemarketing, infomercials and spam—direct mail was the main response medium. And like every medium, direct mail had its stars—a charmed circle of brilliant copywriters whose names were synonymous with big results and big fees. Among them: Bill Jayme, Chris Stagg, Frank Johnson, Linda Wells, David Ogilvy, Maxwell Sackheim and Ed McLean. With the passing of Ed McLean on Aug. 13 at age 77 after a long illness, the last of the great stars has ceased to shine. McLean was a very special guy—short, funny as hell, with a small mustache and an impish smile. He was enormously supportive when my wife,

Explore Your Postage Options
November 1, 2005

Postage can do more than just get your mail delivered. Your mailbox tells the story. Most direct mail bears ho-hum, routine-looking postage, whether it’s a stamp, metered postage or a preprinted indicia. Sure, it does its job. It gets the mail piece delivered. But if you’re the direct marketer paying for the postage, you also should consider how to make your postage investment work harder to: - make your mail piece stand out from the rest of the stack; - make it look important and valuable enough to get past the mail screener; and - get it opened and read, instead of

Oops: 6 Tips to Avoid Direct Mail Gaffes
March 1, 2005

Have you ever received a piece of mail that prompted you to think, “Oops! I wonder what they were they thinking when they mailed me this?” My first tip for avoiding these direct mail blunders is to put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving your mail. Do this and you’re almost guaranteed to avoid the following problems. Timing Is Everything This past Nov. 24—the day before Thanksgiving—I received two different holiday gift catalogs already proclaiming, “It’s not too late—Christmas delivery guaranteed!” and, “There’s still time to order!” With Christmas more than a month away, the “It’s not too late” message is

Creative Corner: Technology Is Great
December 1, 2004

... until it eliminates the human factor. This past year, Mason & Geller relocated to Florida. Why’d we come? Well, we have clients down here, and I’m closer to my 93-year-old mom. We also cut our office overhead by about 70 percent. Then there’s the weather, the beaches and the laid-back lifestyle. Except for hurricanes, it’s been great. We all miss New York, but we’d be crazy to go back. Why didn’t we make this move years ago? Simple. We didn’t have the low-cost technology—or the low-cost air travel—that lets us work in an out-of-the-way marina in Hollywood, Fla. Now, with clients all

Hook Them With Your Copy
November 1, 2004

If you can get people to spend more time reading your direct mail, you’re likely to generate more response One of the most eye-opening things I’ve learned during my 25-year career of writing direct mail copy is that people don’t read every word I write—even those who truly are interested in what I’m selling. And they certainly don’t read it from start to finish. Instead, most people scan copy, looking for reasons either to keep reading … or toss it. Even those who ultimately respond spend less than three or four minutes reading the copy it took you (or your writer) days or weeks

Catalog and Direct SellingL Create in 3-D
November 1, 2004

Techniques to help your products come alive on the printed page Selling a product through the mail is a true art form when it’s executed correctly. While it’s true that many direct marketers successfully sell products with minimal representation of the product, consider how much more response might be garnered if a product were to come alive on the printed page. Direct marketers have to compete against their retail sisters in an unfair playing field, since retail allows customers to pick up, touch, feel, try on or even sample products. You can create products that are three-dimensional in nature using the right creative techniques.

Outsource Solutions: Creative Services
October 1, 2004

Hiring a Creative Consultant Whether you’re trying to jump-start a drained creative team, identify areas of opportunity in your direct mail program or simply tighten your billing cycle, a creative consultant can offer the outside expertise and perspective to help you achieve your goals. But where hiring a freelance copywriter or designer to create a new package is fairly straightforward, working with a consultant can be more tricky. To ensure a productive working relationship, it’s good practice to define your expectations up front, establish clear-cut goals and detail it all in a contract so there are fewer questions. Plan for Success For a consultant

Direct Marketer of the Year: Beth O’Rorke, COO and Vice President, The Economist
October 1, 2004

Playing by the old rules—and winning big. In 1981, Beth O’Rorke had been out of work for three months after spending a year as circulation manager for a start-up magazine called Prime Time, which had run out of money. Robert Cohn of the PDC circulation modeling consultancy steered O’Rorke to The Economist, a British magazine that needed someone to take charge of its direct mail, which she could do in her sleep. On her way to the interview with circulation director Peter Kennedy, O’Rorke bought a copy of the publication at a 42nd Street newsstand and blinked in disbelief. Here was a skinny little