Book Reviews

Direct Marketing

Million Dollar Mailing$

Author: Denison Hatch
Publisher Bonus Books, Inc.
Publication Date: April 2001

Reviewer:Andy Marken
In his nearly 25 years in the advertising/public relations field, Andy has been involved with a broad range of corporate and marketing activities. Prior to forming Marken Communications in mid-1977, Andy was vice president of Bozell & Jacobs and its predecessor agencies. During his 12 years with these agencies, he developed and coordinated a wide variety of highly visible and successful promotional campaigns and activities for clients. A graduate of Iowa State University, Andy received his Bachelor's Degree with majors in Radio & Television and Journalism. Widely published in the industry and trade press, he is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

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Million Dollar Mailing$ for public relations professionals? Weíve got to be kidding right? Wrong!

Donít think direct mail is beneath you and the crass discussion of doing mailings profitably is not something you have to worry about. Whether you want to admit it or not you do mailings -- smail releases, email releases, product roll-out editorial/analyst packages, event media announcements/invitations, employee/legislative educational/informational packages -- and management expects you to deliver an ROI on those mailings.

The author, Denny Hatch, is no newby to direct mail. In fact he has spent almost his entire career researching, studying and writing/designing direct mail marketing efforts. Anyone who maintains an archive of over 200,000 mailings in 200 categories should be able to speak with some authority. He does.

This book is perhaps easier to follow and use than his earlier books -- 2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success and Method Marketing. Itís an excellent cookbook you can use including copy approaches, design, format and offers that will help you produce results. Reading about and using the tried and proven techniques from others is a lot easier -- and less painful -- than doing your PR message packages the way most of us do them todayÖtrial and error.

The first thing you notice about the book is itís big and it weighs more than your notebook computer. But itís hard to believe he has been able to pack so much information, guidelines, examples and detailed discussion information into the 500 pages. You wonít find a lot of useless theory or lofty messages in the book. Itís simply your guide to developing the objectives, strategies and tactics that will work in helping get your public relations messages to the right audience. More importantly, itís a road map on how to help you guarantee your self -- and your management -- that your efforts and budget will produce the results they want to achieve.

Hatch doesnít waste a lot of time in this book. Every chapter contains four five direct mail examples. But more than just showing you what worked; he goes behind the scenes for you to help you understand the entire thought and design process in the program. Then he explains why the direct mail effort worked and he gives you an insight into what the payoff was for the organization that did the mailing.

Fortunately he didnít fall into the common trap of 2000-2001 and the love affair that the Internet would obsolete all other forms of communication. Thatís not really surprising when you understand that Hatchís criteria for successful direct marketing are pretty stiff. In his opinion, a successful direct mail effort has to not only produce immediate results but it also has to be a proven winner over at least three years.

We have a pretty tough time remembering a direct mail effort we saw even last week, let alone three years ago. That only proves that most of the money spent is a complete waste of time and dollars for the sending and receiving parties. The only people who seem to have profited from it are the designers, writers, printers and postal/overnight package services.

Whether you work for a company selling products to other businesses or consumers, are with a nonprofit organization or are employed by the government there is something to learn in this book. Get over the idea that direct marketing is only crass advertising that clutters peopleís mailbox, inbox or email account. Think in terms of what your management wants you to do -- explain/sell a product or service; influence business partners, consumers, industry influentials or governmental bodies. Relate what the bookís examples did for their organizations and how you can modify one or more of the examples to put some sizzle and results in your public relations activities.

A little creative thinking as to how the examples can be used to fill all the seats at a press conference; deliver just the right message to your market and financial analysts; produce favorable media coverage for your company, its services or its products will go a long way in helping your organization remain in business. It can also help ensure you have a job tomorrow.