Reader's Digest

2001 Direct Marketer of the Year
October 1, 2001

AOL & The Genius of Jan Brandt By Denny Hatch In 1993, Internet access was essentially a three-horse race. The text-heavy CompuServe was owned by the tax accounting people H&R Block and had about a million members. So did the cartoon-oriented Prodigy, a joint venture among CBS, Sears and IBM. The longshot was America Online (AOL), with its elegant Graphical User Interface (GUI), chat rooms and exclusive community-building techniques, that had been taken public the prior year by founder Steve Case; he had just under 250,000 members and was doing about $40 million a year in revenue. One advantage Case had over the

Testing Hidden Markets (1,296 words)
August 1, 2001

Hidden Markets By Malcom Decker When asked about what color choices would be available in his Model T, Henry Ford said, "You can have any color you want so long as it's black." Is there such a thing in the United States these days as a single market for any nationally-distributed product or service? Yet, many mailers treat their markets—that is, the universe of all the lists they think they can mail profitably—as if every person on those lists shared identical characteristics, wants and needs, by mailing the same package to all of them. Even Reader's Digest, one of the most sophisticated mailers

The Rise and Fall of Time Life Books (2,310 words)
June 1, 2001

By Denny Hatch Oct. 4, 1957, is etched in my memory almost as clearly as the day Kennedy was shot. That October day, the Russians launched sputnik, leaving the U.S. space program at the starting gate. I stood on Columbia University's main campus talking with fellow students while this satellite whizzed over our heads, all of us fully expecting Armageddon. During a speech in Poland the previous year, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev said to the West, "We will be at your burial." During this period, American school children practiced regular air raid drills. Survivalists spent small fortunes outfitting backyard air raid shelters.

The Latino Renaissance
December 1, 2000

Not since the days of the Spanish Empire—when armada galleons roamed the high seas and conquistadors traversed North America—has Spanish culture had such a pervasive influence on mainstream American culture. Consider some of the biggest names in entertainment today: former Menudo member Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, Mark Anthony, Enrique Isglesias … the list goes on. Also, Santana has made a huge comeback, and this year saw the prime time broadcast of the first annual Latin Grammy Awards. Underlying this fascination with the Latino culture is the size and anticipated growth rate of the U.S. Hispanic community, coupled with a saturated and

The Great Mentors (4,982 words)
October 1, 1998

Back In the earlier part of this century, direct marketing didn't even have a name. Over the years, more and more disciples became devoted to this super-focused method of reaching and selling customers; eventually direct marketing drew enough of a following to earn its own professional association and a trade journal. However, only in the past five years has direct marketing fanned out to touch nearly every company across this country—and even the world. For those who started out in this "industry," there weren't any college classes, associations or experts to learn from. No companies ran workshops, seminars or full-blown conferences on creating effective

Marketing Your List-In-house or Outside Management? (510 words)
March 1, 1998

By Denny Hatch Is In-house or outside Management Right for You? FOR OCCASIONAL marketers, list rental is the main source of income. After serving time for salacious advertising, Ralph Ginzberg, formerly of Eros, started a newsletter called MoneysWorth. A huge part of his business then became gathering the names of literate responders and marketing the list. Recently, Boardroom bought the MoneysWorth name, and it was reborn under Martin Edelston's aegis. Some marketers, including AARP and the American Bible Society, do not allow their lists into commerce at all. For most, however, list rental represents icing on the cake. After all, to generate income, a