Marc Stein

Breathe. I'm assuming, of course, that you're not below water-if so, I hope you're busy swimming your way to the surface. Otherwise, please tell me that at least your nose is above the surface. And I mean that: send me an e-mail or give me a call to tell me how you (and your company) are faring in the squeezed economic climate right now. So please let me in on the challenges you're facing ... and I'd also love to hear some of your success stories.

When you have a control package that’s performing near or on budget, you may not want to risk testing a completely different approach. You should, however, test “tweaks” to the control package that have the potential to generate small increases in response/profitability. Theoretically, a series of successful tweaks will add up to a major improvement in your program. There is, however, a danger in tweaking. It results from misunderstanding the difference between a tweak and a substantive (and possibly damaging) change to the control package. Here’s an example from the world of publishing. The control package is comprised of a promotional outer envelope; a four-page, 8½˝

By Lee Marc Stein The premise in the direct marketing industry in the late '90s was that the Internet was going to wipe out direct mail. Over the past five years, we've seen that prediction proven as false as the other great lie, "2 percent is a good response to a mailing." What we've experienced instead is (no surprise) media convergence and synergism: direct mail helping online marketing and online marketing helping direct mail. Direct mail helps online marketers get serious prospects to visit sites and register. Paid search engine marketing doesn't capture all prospects. Because of all the online clutter, direct mail

By Lee Marc Stein What makes direct mail work? Some argue that the answers lie entirely with tactics--that one killer word on an envelope will make it pull response, while a variation on that word may cause failure. Perhaps, but after 40 years of working with and learning from an army of smart professionals, I know there are theories that explain direct mail success, too. 1. Understand That It's All About Connecting. Direct response works when there's an unfettered connection with the prospect. By "unfettered," I mean that no big idea (based on the marketer's conception of the product), or small, hackneyed

By Lee Marc Stein I didn't need a sociologist or psychologist to tell me that having a "feeling of control" was a good thing. My mother, from the time I left the house at 21 until she passed away 30 years later, injected the question "Is everything under control?" into virtually every conversation. She never realized how much of my business life revolves around the concept of control. When I was on the client side, just about the most exciting thing in the world was to come into a new position, develop new creative, and have the first or second package mailed

By Lee Marc Stein Many of you will remember "Wag the Dog," that prescient 1997 film with Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro. The plot revolves around diverting attention from a presidential sex scandal by fabricating a war. Direct marketing isn't as glamorous or funny as the movies. Sometimes we let the tail wag the dog, and the results can be sobering. In most cases, this tail wagging isn't planned; it simply results from lack of concentration on key strategic issues. And now let's head to the tales. 1) A food company that sells home delivery of gourmet meals actually lets

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