The Wall Street Journal

The Yin and Yang of American Consumers
September 1, 2002

By Denny Hatch A guy I know bought two Fedders air conditioning units and a VCR from American Appliance, an independent discount appliance chain in my area. One of the machines didn't work, and he phoned the store. The line was perpetually busy. He went to the store during regular hours and was told the store was closed. "When will it be open?" "I am telling you, the store is closed," was the reply. It turns out GE Capital called in its markers, and the 33-year-old, privately held American Appliance instantly shut all 24 stores and fired its 700 employees. For The Philadelphia Inquirer

August 1, 2002

By Denny Hatch Ihave always believed that because a great deal of information about my wife and myself was out in cyberspace, our lives are much easier. When we moved to Philadelphia, we got a mortgage in one day. When we were in Istanbul, I stuck a piece of plastic into a machine and instantly became a Turkish millionaire (US$5 = 7.9 million Turkish lira). In the past I've frequently quoted freelancer Ed McLean's rule: "You must dumb down what you know." To be successful, personal information about the subject must operate behind the copy, not be part of it (e.g., not: "Congratulations

Why I'm Canceling My Subscription
July 1, 2002

By Denny Hatch To: Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., Publisher, The New York Times Dear Mr. Sulzberger: After 50 years of reading The New York Times, I am—with great regret—canceling my subscription. I can no longer justify spending $600 a year. I also subscribe to the print edition of The Wall Street Journal and pay an extra $20 for the online edition to take advantage of the magnificent archive service. I'm about to cancel my WSJ print edition and become a pure online subscriber for $60. For 10 days in February I was at the World Curling Championships in Bismarck, ND, where no

Sweet Talk to Promote Pay Up
July 1, 2002

By Alicia Orr Suman When you have deadbeats on your file, the typical reaction is to send them increasingly nasty notes to scare them into paying. The strategy is to put a little fear into these late-payers, make them squirm a bit, and hope they figure out some way to pay you what they owe. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Your letters and calls might be ignored, or the worst-case scenario may happen: Some of these folks may file for bankruptcy, and you'll never get paid. But some smart credit card marketers are using a kinder, gentler approach to collections. From 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

One-to-One Marketing and the "Shot Heard 'Round the World"
June 1, 2001

At a direct marketing conference several years ago, I heard a Peppers and Rogers Group MBA go on about taking care of customers' needs on a one-to-one basis. When it came my turn to speak, I quoted the late economist Herbert Stein who said: "I never forgot what my old professor Frank Knight said. 'People don't want their wants satisfied. They want better wants.'"

On Target - Can You Guess Who I Am?
May 1, 2001

By Alicia Orr, Editor in Chief, Target Marketing think you know a person by what she buys? Think again. I for one appear on the subscriber files of publications from House & Garden and Vogue to Fortune, The Wall Street Journal and Dog Fancy. An avid catalog and Web shopper, lately I've bought furniture, household goods, gifts, kids' clothes and baby items. I also shop the 'Net for books and music (recent CD purchases include the Backstreet Boys, Dave Matthews Band and Faith Hill). Plus, my husband and I like to research and book vacations online. So who am I? Can you tell

List View-A Targeted Direction (651 words)
April 1, 2001

Consumers are tuning us out. Now What? by Jeff Hellinga No Matter Where they turn, today's consumers are bombarded with advertisements and promotions. Marketing messages are everywhere: in mailboxes, on TV, from telemarketers and on computer screens. The fight for consumers' attention is getting fiercer, and it's forcing many marketers to increase their efforts any way possible. The most common solution historically has been for marketers to increase the size of their lists. After all, a bigger universe means more targets. But when hundreds of direct marketers expand their universes, the result can be overwhelming: According to The Wall Street Journal,

Internet Buyers-The New Castrati (676 words)
March 1, 2001

By Denny Hatch The equivalent of rock stars in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe were the castrati, former choir boys whose soprano voices were so pure and exquisite they were subjected to castration. Said one writer, "[The castrati] were frequently described as having the 'voices of angels.' This was no doubt due to the combination of a child's fresh voice with the vocal power of a man, and the high register of a woman." Being neutered did not make for connubial bliss, but the money was great and, socially, these eunuchs were lionized. Recently, my friend Russell Perkins, one of the

Creative Techniques That Work
March 1, 2001

By Pat Friesen What's the difference between direct response copy and creative for front-end prospects vs. back-end customers? In a nut shell, it's the credibility you have with your audience—or how you establish it and then use it to your advantage. Your customer knows your company and hopefully trusts it. He or she has a relationship with your company. You've already met or surpassed your customer's expectations. But a prospect is daring you to: "Show me." What does this mean as you're developing the creative strategies for your direct response advertising? To answer that question, start by defining your objective, including the audience(s) you