Ed Mayer

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 dennyhatch.com.

A good envelope shouts, "OPEN ME NOW!" The fat blue carrier from "David Birnbaum, Private Jeweler Extraordinaire" did just that. Birnbaum's name and address on the label were in shiny gold. The name on the address in gorgeous script: "Mr. Denison S. Hatch"

Time to rewrite an ironclad direct marketing rule from Ed Mayer: "Success in direct mail is 40 percent lists (audience), 40 percent offer, 20 percent everything else." My suggested new formula: 30 percent lists, 30 percent offer, 30 percent testimonials, 10 percent everything else.

When an envelope arrives in the mail, it could be personal correspondence from a friend or relative. Or it could be a piece of direct mail trying to sell you something. In either case, a letter is de rigueur — normal, customary, socially obligatory. I recently reviewed two control mailings from Harvard Women's Health Watch and Learning Strategies. The letter from Harvard Women's Health Watch is textbook correct, whereas the letter from Learning Strategies breaks all the rules.

In 40 rapid minutes, Pat Friesen discussed the keys to getting more calls, clicks and visits from your copy in last week's Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk 2012 virtual show session, "Using Words to Generate Response ... Direct Mail, Email, Online and More." Here are some questions that Friesen wasn't able to answer during the session, but subsequently answered in friendly, frank Friesen-like fashion! They may be the same kinds of creative challenges you're wrestling with, so take a look.

"Success in direct mail," wrote the legendary guru Ed Mayer many years ago, "is 40 percent lists, 
40 percent offer and 20 percent everything else." On the Internet, lists count the least. Names are so cheap, you can blitz the world practically for free.

The small and medium business (SMB) market is huge. Almost all of the businesses in the U.S. are in it! But while the opportunity is unlimited, SMB firms also are volatile, nomadic and subject to varied definitions. Thus, our first imperative for achieving greater rewards and reduced risk when selling to this market is:

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