Peter Rosenwald

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.

When I was running Target Marketing magazine, I would get phone calls all the time from marketing kids asking either: "How many times a month should I contact a customer?" or "I'm considering buying such-and-such software that reminds me when to contact my customers. Is this good software?"

The annual budget process in most companies is a period of tension and trauma, with the individual trees often getting ignored while management looks at the forest. Managements tend to focus on the "big" macro numbers: How much you plan to spend for marketing instead of looking at the micro picture; what you can afford to spend (we call this the Allowable Cost Per Order or ACPO) to acquire or keep a customer multiplied by the number you want to acquire or keep. In my view, this is a big mistake: It's the sum of the individual trees that make the forest.

Next time you're in London—and Her Majesty is not in residence—take a tour of Buckingham Palace. It is drop-dead splendid, as is the Queen's Gallery next door, one of the world's most spectacular small museums.

You will find yourself privileged to peek into the life and legacy of one of the richest, most beloved women in the world, and who is—it is generally agreed—very good at what she does. Most of the time.

But what nitwit in the Queen's employ approved the idea of hitting on state funded energy-saving grants set up for low-income families to help pay the heating and lighting costs of her nine palaces? (See IN THE NEWS at right.)

When this PR boo-boo was revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, faces in the Royal Household were red as a Beefeater's tunic.

During this past two weeks, I have been astonished at the big-name organizations with such poor management that untrained employees are allowed to make careless, embarrassingly bad and costly decisions.

Get List Hygiene Right, or You're Outta Business By Denny Hatch Half of your success in direct mail hinges on two elements: lists and arithmetic. Start with the basic U.S. Postal Service (USPS) statistics. Consumer lists go sour at the rate of 2 percent a month—or roughly 25 percent a year. People move, die, marry and divorce. In the business arena, lists go out of date at the rate of 50 percent a year. A quick way to prove this number is at any business conference. Ask everyone in the room who has a business card today that's different from that of a year

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