Dorothy Kerr

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

How does a publisher monetize 800,000 freeloaders—without resorting to advertising or list rental? Quite simply, I went through my private business and marketing archives (plus Google) searching out publishers who out of necessity turned themselves into marketers. I looked at what others had done to 1) monetize their existing material and 2) come up with line extensions—relevant new products and services that should delight their existing readers.

"To be successful in this business, you have to see who's mailing what … Look for those mailings that keep coming again and again, which means they are successful, and then steal smart." Dorothy Kerr said that at a Direct Mail Writer's Guild luncheon attended by Denny Hatch in the late '70s, and he's quoted it often since. It was one inspiration for the Who's Mailing What! direct mail archive.

Take just a moment to read “IN THE NEWS” at right. It contains the entire text of a full-page ad for a Honda car in The New York Times Magazine, a jumbo size 8-3/4” x 10-3/4” Sunday supplement.

Now click on the first illustration at right in the media player and you can see the layout.

The type: 12-point for the subhead in mid-page and 8-point body copy—a teeny, unreadable band of copy across the middle of the page.

Cost of the ad: $107,075.

This Honda ad is a lame attempt to capture the consumer’s attention with a single, ill-written unique selling proposition (USP) that is the entire premise of the ad:

“The Acura car is very quiet.”

The ad breaks every rule in the book.

The presidential memo under IN THE NEWS came to my inbox, and I printed it out. It was the 751st e-mail I received from the Obama organization since the first effort I received back on March 5, 2008, titled, “What Happened Today.”

This one stunned me—the real deal, the actual take-no-prisoners, kick-ass directive to the cabinet and intel agencies from a controlled but obviously furious president ordering them to cease and desist the turf wars and set up an information sharing system pronto. Implied: “or else ...”

Back in March 2009, I requested to be put on the Obama e-mail list and sent a small donation. I have saved all Obama organization communications (so far) in my computers as a record of the most successful outreach to voters by a politician in the history of the world.

“Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” said the late Jesse H. “Big Daddy” Unruh, speaker of the California State Assembly.

Since 2007, the Obama campaign has built a database of 3.1 million supporters and raised more than $700 million, surpassing what all the candidates from both major parties combined collected in private donations in 2004.

It doesn't matter whether you like Obama, hate Obama or are somewhere in between. If you are in business—any business, consumer, B-to-B or nonprofit—and do not monitor how this extraordinary organization communicates with its constituency and prospects via e-mail, you're a damn fool.

This guy is a great communicator, and we can all learn from him.

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

On June 6, 2006, I devoted these pages to the tectonic change in the CBS Evening News. The piece was titled “WOMEN TAKE OVER AT LAST! With Couric and Logan on Board at CBS, Maybe the Evening News Will Come Alive.” With CBS paying Couric $15 million a year and spending $2.9 million for a new set, I had high hopes that she and her electric, articulate chief foreign correspondent, Lara Logan, would bury their tedious male competitors. Alas, a year later the program is moribund, with lower ratings than those garnered by temporary anchor Bob Schieffer. In a fascinating 6,300-word analysis of Couric—including

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