Many times over the past seven decades, I have met ambitious young men and women who wanted to leave the corporate rat race and go off on their own. The idea of working like hell for five years only to have your business tank is not a pretty thought. I'm a guy who started two businesses (the WHO'S MAILING WHAT! newsletter with my wife Peggy and a freelance copy and design service). Both are still going 25 years later.
Many years ago we were staying at an inn on the Jersey Shore. One of the guests said to the innkeeper, "I would love to do what you do and be part of the magic." "I am not part of the magic," was the reply. "We make the magic happen." What triggered this column was Susanne Craig's Fall Restaurant Review in The New York Times titled "What Restaurants Know (About You)."
On Nov. 22, 1963, consultant Paul Goldberg—with a huge mailing for Consumer Reports going out across the country—was having lunch with two colleagues at the Café Carlyle in New York. The maître d' came over to the table to report that President Kennedy had been shot.
Our friends Jack and Evie retired to Cape Cod 15 years ago, and two years ago decided to subscribe to the Cape Cod Times. It's a good paper, with all the local goings-on and one of the best sports sections I have ever seen. Jack's deal: $38.40 every six weeks. The bill would come and Jack would faithfully send a check. At the end of the most recent six-week period, Jack got a bill for the following amount: 26 weeks for $158.60.
When my wife, Peggy, and I started WHO’S MAILING WHAT!—a newsletter about junk mail for junk mailers—it was based on our massive archive of direct mail samples. The premise—as long-time readers know—was based on a luncheon speech by (then) U.S. News & World Report circ director Dorothy Kerr, who said: The way to be successful in direct mail is to see who’s mailing what, track those mailings that keep coming in over and over (which means they are successful and making money), and then steal smart. The newsletter analyzed important mailings each month and made copies of all the mailings available to subscribers for
Last October, my wife, Peggy, and I invited our good friends Paul Goldberg and Joseph Dipper to lunch in Chicago, where we were all attending the DMA Conference. The hotel concierge recommended NoMI on the seventh floor of the Chicago Park Hyatt. Our table by the big window overlooked the iconic Chicago Water Tower, constructed in 1869 of Joliet (Illinois) limestone blocks and one of the few survivors of the 1871 Great Fire. Everything about the restaurant was world-class—the décor, service, food, wine and vodka (Grey Goose). Dining doesn’t get any better than that, and I would recommend it to anybody who has plenty
The story of Vicki H. Readling is typical. She made $60,000 as a freelance insurance broker last year, but could no longer afford health benefits, because with her history of cancer, a health policy would cost $27,000. After taxes, she would be left with maybe $15,000 a year to live on. Yesterday’s story of Readling was just one of many in the media last week about the state of our sad-sack health care dilemma. Among the others: * A Miami Herald piece that suggested Americans who need surgery should go abroad where procedures can be performed for a fraction of what they cost here.
I never open “personal letters” from strangers in my Yahoo or AOL inbox. Too often, they’re the Nigeria scam or a pitch for Viagra. But the following subject line intrigued me: “Personal letter from the CEO of Titan Holdings (TTGL) as they anticipate …” I can’t recall ever receiving a personal letter from a CEO. My ego was stroked. Even though I’d never heard of Titan Holdings—and knowing it was most probably Spam—I clicked on it to see this “personal letter.” There was nothing personal about it. And therein lies the problem with e-mail and e-commerce. Remembering the Dot-com Boom In 1999, a serial
That Bookspan—the amalgam of the old Book-of-the-Month and Literary Guild—was cited and fined for treating customers badly is a shame. It’s true that the negative option book club is—without question—the most complex of direct marketing business models. It operates under a crushing schedule of 15 mailing cycles a year. Ten to 15 different kinds of communications between the member and the club could be in the mail at any given time: packages of books, returned books, announcements of new books, rejection (do-not-ship) slips, bills, statements, dunning efforts, payments, bonus book orders and bonus books shipped. All of these transactions are date sensitive. If a rejection
Dadaism was a wacko cultural movement dreamed up by artists, writers and musicians. First announced in neutral Zurich on Bastille Day, July 14, 1916, in the middle of World War I, it was the “reaction to what many of these artists saw as nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective homicide.” Dadaism quickly spread across Europe and came to New York, its main proponents being avant-garde photographer Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, whose iconic “Nude Descending Staircase” is featured in every art history course that deals with the modern era. The basic tenet of the Dada art, music and literature was screaming, wrenching, fingernails-on-the-blackboard