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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.

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.

We're all seeing the results of the Democrats' recruiting effort, and similar efforts on the Republican side, in our mailboxes and inboxes today. These are the most highly targeted, personal, high-tech (and, yeah, maybe a little bit creepy) fundraising campaigns ever launched.

I encourage everyone to write a novel. It doesn’t matter whether the finished product is any good—let alone publishable. It’s the experience that’s important. The novelist has to come up with a plot, create characters, give those characters challenges and invent believable behavior patterns and thought processes to deal with them. Like a chess player, the novelist must think many moves ahead, create mental scenarios and play a continual game of “What if …” In the 1960s and 1970s I wrote three novels that I was lucky enough to get published. The exercise of completing a novel gave me the equivalent of a Ph.D.

By Denny Hatch I've been an American Express Cardmember since 1964. As a company that has been in business for a long time, you would think it would have business on the Internet aced. Think again. I lost my American Express platinum card (for which I pay $300 a year) and wanted to report it. I went on Google and searched both "American Express Platinum Card" and "American Express," and went through screen after screen looking for how to report a lost card. Finally I found an 800 number to report a lost card and dialed it. The recorded message: "You have

By Denny Hatch I hate to count the number of times I have nearly veered off the road trying to figure out what a wordy billboard is all about. Billboards today are serious and confusing. Does anyone remember the old red-and-white Burma-Shave signs by the side of the road—one after the other—that touted the brushless shaving cream? There were several hundred versions of these—every one of them a hoot. Each sign had a little bit of copy; just enough so that you didn't take your eyes off the road for too long. This was followed by another and another, until you had the whole

Save "6% APR," "half our regular fee," or "two points closing costs" presumes the reader will do the math. Telling him he can save "$500" in costs is a tangible, easily understood benefit. —Denny Hatch, contributing editor, consultant, freelance copywriter and author of the books "Method Marketing" and (with Don Jackson) "2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success."

By Denny Hatch The best nonfiction book I've ever read is Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit." For a brief period of my life, I spent every Saturday with The Daily Racing Form the way some people do crossword puzzles. I loved studying the past performances, and once in a while a horse would pop out of the numbers as a sure winner, and I would bet a couple of bucks. But mostly it was mental exercise. Several years ago a Midwest circulation group invited me to do a talk on direct marketing, and the meeting was held at Arlington racetrack outside Chicago. I decided my talk

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