Winston Churchill

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.

Maybe once in your career, you will be tasked with finding an artist to create the official portrait of your CEO. Or maybe your mother-in-law. Or you may be called on to hire or recommend a designer or webmaster.

Call it the unchecked box felt round the world. The worldwide anti-spam movement scored an earth-shaking, landscape-altering victory as British retailer John Lewis has been ordered to pay unspecified damages for sending unsolicited emails to a Sky news reporter who clearly hasn’t enough to do. According to various reports, Sky news reporter Roddy Mansfield brought the case after he started getting unsolicited email from the retailer. “Mr Mansfield began receiving the promotional emails after registering his details with John Lewis' website which opted-him-in for marketing using a pre-ticked consent box,” said one report

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.

Under normal circumstances, a letter announcing that Amazon.com is trashing its BookSurge self-publishing imprint and renaming it CreateSpace would be a big ho-hum.

But I just signed a deal with BookSurge to publish “A Treasury of Takeaways,” goodies from the past five years of this e-zine.

On the surface, everything about BookSurge seemed wonderful, right down to the splendid logo—an open book that looked like a soaring bird in flight.

Alas, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos—the Web marketing genius who created the world’s greatest distribution and marketing system for books—is a lousy talent picker. He turned his publishing arm over to amateurs.

Every person in business should study this transition gone sour, make a note of the broken rules and avoid making the same mistakes.

I've been around for 12 presidential administrations—starting with that of Franklin Roosevelt, who died in office when I was 10. In my memory bank are five deeply flawed men who turned the highest office into a national nightmare and were rendered politically impotent during the final years of their presidencies: John F. Kennedy (Bay of Pigs, Cuban missile crisis, assassination), Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam), Richard Nixon (Watergate), Jimmy Carter (Iran hostage crisis) and Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky).

My family was not Democratic nor Republican. Nor am I. I've always voted for whomever I believed to be the best person for the job. As a result, I'm a registered Independent, which means I never vote in primary elections. If that's a cop-out, so be it.

For the record, up to the current administration (on which the jury is still out) I voted Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Humphrey, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41 and Clinton.

Only twice in my life have I seen the country crippled and disfigured, resulting in genuine grassroots passion in a presidential election: 1968 and 2008.

The year I got passionate about politics—and dispassionate—was 1968.

In spring 1958, I was about to graduate from Columbia College and head off as a draftee for a two-year stint in the Army. We were in the thick of the Cold War. Eisenhower was president and in Russia, a bellicose, bald little tyrant named Nikita Khrushchev, first secretary of the Communist Party, was claiming missile superiority over the United States and constantly threatening us with nuclear annihilation.

The mainstay of American defense was a growing fleet of giant Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses that the Strategic Air Command (SAC), under super hawk Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, kept in the air 24/7, loaded with nuclear bombs and missiles, and ready to head into Russia on receipt of a coded order over the radio. America’s Cold War strategy was MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction—whereby if one of the big firecrackers on either side went off, each of us would blow the other to hell.

These were very tense times.

In April 1958, for a brief and glorious moment, all the angst and terror vanished amid a sudden lovefest between the people of Russia and America.

More Blogs