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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.

What's the best way to get inside a prospect's mind? There are surveys, focus groups, market research and customer service centers to collect information about an audience, but sometimes basic direct mail testing is the most straightforward and profitable way to find out which approaches work best

What's the best way to get inside a prospect's mind? There are surveys, focus groups, market research and customer service centers to collect information about an audience, but sometimes basic direct mail testing is the most straightforward and profitable way to find out which approaches work best.

I damn near did not get today’s column done. I started reading Jack Valenti’s memoir, “This Time, This Place: My Life in War, the White House and Hollywood” and it grabbed me by the throat and would not let go. Valenti, a World War II bomber pilot who flew 51 missions over Italy, died at age 85 on April 26, just six weeks before publication. In the following half-century after his discharge from the Army Air Corps, Jack Valenti bestrode the mighty worlds of Washington and Hollywood like a colossus, quite a feat for someone a mere five foot five inches tall.

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