Frank Johnson

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.

The content marketing debate revolving around length makes me think of a story. A curious little girl is said to have asked Abraham Lincoln how long one’s legs should be. After a moment’s reflection, the tall and lanky president responded wisely, “just long enough to touch the ground.”

Some recent and mildly frustrating interactions with young marketing colleagues started me wondering about the amazing mentors whose generosity and wisdom shaped my own career. What’s happened, I asked myself, to the time-honored practice of mentoring?

Hands up all of you who remember the great old Johnson Box? The Johnson box, according to Wikipedia, is “a box commonly found at the top of direct mail letters, containing the key message of the letter. The purpose of it is to draw the reader's attention to this key message first, and hopefully grab their attention, enticing them to read the rest of the letter." ... If you know the power of the Johnson Box, you know you need one at the top of every email and website sales letter for one great reason: It boosts response!

Magazines have long been among the most sophisticated users of direct mail (for the very latest look at trends, into both direct mail and email marketing by magazines, along with extensive analysis, see DirectMarketingIQ's just released Magazine Publishing Industry Sector Report). Many fine copywriters and designers cut their teeth on subscription packages and developed giant reputations as a result of their ability to sell subscriptions through this channel.

I was heartsick to hear American Heritage magazine is folding. I remember when it was founded back in 1954, the brainchild of three TIME alumni: James Parton, Oliver Jensen and Joseph Thorndyke. It broke all the rules. It accepted no advertising, was printed on heavy, glossy paper and had a hard cover with a full-color painting printed on it. It was not just a magazine; subscribers kept every issue and displayed their collections on bookshelves, along with Time-Life books, Harvard Classics and other great continuity series of the time. American Heritage circulation promotions were created by the legendary Frank Johnson, after whom the Johnson box

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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