Why Direct Mail? My Story
I'm not sure exactly when it all started ... my near-obsession with direct mail, that is. The signs were all there when I was growing up. There was the excitement I felt whenever the Edmund Scientifics catalog arrived at our family's house. Despite its spare 2-color graphics and tiny type, I was still inspired to order microscope slides and other awesome things for my room. And as a bonus, it saved my dad a trip to the "hobby" shop at the Bazaar of All Nations (an indoor shopping complex) a few miles down the road.
It could have been that postage stamp collection I started when I was 8, one that I still have sitting in big red albums on my shelves. Sure, it helped me sharpen my geography and history knowledge, but I also learned about the wide world of mail — first-class, business, air mail, and much more.
Or, maybe it was my first direct mail campaign. For a fifth-grade school project, I asked for a bumper sticker or game program from every major league sports team in North America. My response rate was over 60 percent, I think. Sorry, I didn't do any testing! I'm pretty sure everyone got the same letter — a simple, straight-up appeal to flattery, with a little pity thrown in.
So call it Destiny, if you want. All I know is that I've always liked mail — getting it, sending it, thinking about it, and responding to it. It's often been a source of amusement for family and friends. But instead of going to work for the U.S. Postal Service, my first career was in database publishing. That's how I started saving my mail for Denny and Peggy Hatch's archive and newsletter, Who's Mailing What!, back in 1989.
I had no idea of the complex education that was ahead of me when I was tapped to run that very same archive 9 years later. It was kind of like my first skydive, a leap into a cool universe where a thousand different details rush past and around you all at once.