Lois Geller

I was thinking that when I called 1-800-CONTACTS. We must be a pain most of the time, but their customer service people always sound happy to hear from me. That was the case this week when Kristine Taylor was so cheerful about handling the return and getting my new trifocal lenses from England. Very few marketers ever think about the value of actually dealing with existing customers, probably because they’re so focused on new customer acquisition. The “back end” of the business—returns, credits, handling complaints, answering questions, even keeping track of customers—doesn’t interest them much. It should.

I'm a big fan of social media. I jumped on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., but it didn't occur to me until recently that social media could help direct marketers by leveraging influencers. In other words, I was a purist—I was communicating on social media for the pure joy of talking to people, meeting them and learning. I didn't think about it as leveraging anyone, but there is something to be said for targeting respected followers and encouraging them to recommend you.

At our agency, we create about 30 percent of the direct mail we used to do. There’s no logical reason for the drop, but there are a few dozen other reasons—and they all center on the Internet. ... Today, a man called about attracting more investors, people just like his current high-end clients. That’s ideal for direct mail so I asked if he’d tried it. He said no; he needed a brochure, and printing and … well, he had more excuses. I mentioned “Maybe just a great letter?”

Banks mystify me. They should be great one-to-one direct marketers, but they’re just not! It’s not only the stilted letter copy printed in mouse type, “my eyes glaze over” offers or the stock photo brochures with more legal disclaimers than actual selling copy. It’s the staggering mismanagement of information. Better yet, complete ignorance of information that, with minimal effort, could make them lots of money. When we were getting ready to move from New York City to Hollywood, Fla., banks were the first companies notified. My assistant Kate sent about 50 letters to banks, credit card companies, insurance companies and brokerages, and I figured I’d get

Our Relationship Begins When You Tell Me a Story! This past November, I flew to New York City for the Silver Apple Award ceremony. My friend Murray Miller of American Express was among the individuals being honored, and my friends at Boardroom/Bottom Line received the Corporate Apple Award. After each award, the honoree said a few words, well actually a lot of words, which is OK with me. It struck me, as it does every year at the Apples, that long-time direct marketers all seem to be great storytellers. I think that’s one reason the ceremony always is packed. We like hearing their tales

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