Harry Walsh

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.

Peggy Hatch is a senior advisor at NAPCO Media. A direct mail copywriter, she co-founded Who’s Mailing What! with her husband Denny Hatch. Her previous position at NAPCO Media was Group President for the Target Marketing Group.

It was October 1984 when Denny and I launched the premiere issue of Who's Mailing What! Back then, it was a paid newsletter that analyzed direct mail and included a members-only archive service.

One of the revolutionary direct marketers and copywriters in the 1980s and 1990s was Joe Sugarman, who changed direct marketing by introducing the toll-free 800-number. What's more, Sugarman was the first to market a cordless telephone phone and a digital watch. If you traveled back then, your in-flight magazine was certain to have one or more page ads for Sugarman's goodies and high-tech gadgetry. They were immediately obvious with bold, catchy headlines and long copy that grabbed the reader by the throat and would not let go.

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.

The dumbest thing I ever did in business was heed the dire warnings of the bloodsuckers I worked for in my early years, who threatened instant dismissal if they caught me moonlighting.

So I didn't moonlight and was fired anyway—often.

These are rough times. And we're all dependent on mediocre, unmotivated co-workers and potentially failing businesses, no matter how superb our own performances.

If you can get something going on the side, for God’s sake do it! This way, if you get fired laid off, you’re still working.

I stumbled across Randy Cohen’s column in that most dismal and pretentious of publications, The New York Times Magazine. It reminded me of a 1990 series in WHO’S MAILING WHAT! put together by one of America’s greatest freelance copywriters—and a splendid, perpetually upbeat human being—Barbara Harrison.

I hope you find it useful.

Every time I drive by an Arby's—which have been around since 1964—and see the whimsical sign with the giant cowboy hat, I chuckle. I imagine a hot roast beef sandwich, and it makes me hungry.

Same thing with Wendy's, which opened in 1969. The sign says to me, "Stop here for a great breakfast or juicy, old-fashioned burger!"

Though only a sometimes customer, over the years both of these organizations have created positive brand awareness in my head.

So when I received the e-mail from KCSA Strategic Communications announcing a "new brand identity" for Wendy's/Arby's, I was curious. After all, the old brands were real good.

Here's how the "new brand identity" is described:

"The Wendy's/Arby's Group brand identity is designed not only as an acronym, but as a spiral continuum, maintaining the idea of continuous, flexible movement forward," said Margaret Wiatrowski, creative director, KCSA Strategic Communications. "The overall visual direction remains neutral by introducing entirely new elements to the combined entity, both formalistically and typographically. The two entities are symbolically combined through a mutual sense of innovation, authenticity and tradition."

Huh?

Kim Zinda's five ways to use e-mail marketing are:

* Provide subscription visibility.
* Employ e-mail onboarding programs.
* Use promotional activities to acquire new e-mail names.
* Append e-mail names to an existing database.
* Fine-tune your data.

I have no quarrel with anything Zinda says in her 937-word piece and have provided a hyperlink below FYI. Zinda's dealing with the technical aspects of e-mail marketing.

But once the electronics are in place--the right audience and the ability to reach them--what do you say and how best to say it?

I just ran across a Forrester Research report from July 2008 that predicts the volume of e-mail marketing will hit a high point of 838 billion messages by 2013.

Yes, the cost of e-mail is low. But with this huge blitz of traffic, the message must be compelling and relevant--from the subject line in the inbox to the landing page and the follow-up.

Always remember that, at any point along the way, the effort is a mouse click away from oblivion--whereupon ROI is nonexistent and your time spent is wasted.

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