Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Posted by Denny Hatch

You Never Get a Second Chance
To Make a First Impression

Only a Fool Would Immediately
Trash This Terrific Offer
The self-mailer for THE WEEK arrived in mid-January 2019.
This fat, giant interruptive mailing had not only contained the pitch for a weekly magazine, it included the actual current issue of the magazine as a FREE SAMPLE.
At 8" x 10-1/2" it dominates your mailbox and your attention.
You can’t ignore it.
You can’t simply click “Delete” and expect it to go away.
You gotta deal with it—physically look at it and handle it.
What’s more: SEND NO MONEY!
NO HIDDEN PRICING. “If I like it, I can continue with 19 more issues (25 in all) for just $1.39 each. That’s 72% savings off the single-copy price.
Absolutely NO RISK: “If you do not like it, write “cancel” on our bill, return it unpaid and you’ll owe absolutely nothing.”
IF YOU SAY “YES,” you’ll receive an additional freebie.
Like the private briefing presidents receive, it’s packed with inside information and classified intelligence from around the globe. An invaluable guide that no leader should be without—it’s yours FREE when you send in your RSVP Card found on the front of this issue.

This mailing is hugely flattering.
Wow! The publishers called me "leader!" They think so highly of me as a possible customer they are spending big bucks to reach me!
Printing and production (including the magazine): at least 50¢.
Postage: According to the USPS, postage would average 50¢ apiece.
     That means basic price is $1.00 ($1000 per thousand)!

Plus… the publisher has committed to investing in:
• Printing and Mailing: 6 additional free issues
• Printing and mailing at least 6 invoices (postage 38¢ each).
• Printing and mailing: Free premium, CONFIDENTIAL INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING.

Selling Magazine Subscriptions 
the Old-fashioned Way
In the heyday of magazine direct mail circulation mailings—the 1970s and 1980s—two of the dominant figures were the elegant, erudite and witty copywriter Bill Jayme and his partner, Finnish art director, Heikki, Ratalahti.  They brought in gazillions of subscribers and made themselves a small fortune.

When Jayme-Ratalahti magazine offers hit your mailbox, you did not ignore them. They were lively, fun, pictorially gorgeous and great reading.

A sample Jayme offer for a monthly magazine: Send for THE CURRENT ISSUE FREE. No Risk. No Obligation. If you like it, take 11 more for the special introductory rate of $9.95 (a 73% saving under what others pay).
     THE WEEK went Jayme-Ratalahti one better: instead of simply offering free issue, they sent everybody the current issue free.

Had Any of the Above Mailings Arrived in Digital Form…

They would have shown up like these 65-character subject lines and pre-headers—boring type in the inbox looking like every other dreary message announcement.

THE WEEK’s Unusual Editorial Model:
Steal Outside Research and Rewrite!
Our editors scour hundreds of magazines, newspapers and websites worldwide to bring you the most intriguing stories and influential commentary—left, right and in-between.
     We find the best. Boil it down. Banish the boring. And deliver the facts straight to you in a clear, concise package with minimum advertising and maximum insight.
     Buried in its promotional copy is a brilliant USP (Unique Selling Proposition):
"You read less, but you know more."

Interesting Facts from THE WEEK
It was founded in the UK in 1995 and launched in the U.S. in 2001:
     • 74% of readers do not read a daily newspaper.
     • The daily news site— reaches 2.1 million global unique visitors per month.
     THE WEEK JUNIOR—published for 8- to 14-year-olds in the UK since 2015—has an average circulation of 59,266.
     • U.S. rate base, 550,000 readers.
     These folks seem to know what they are doing.

Why I did not subscribe to THE WEEK
I’m up at 5:00 a.m. With morning coffee and iPad in hand, I blow through Apple News (with links to hundreds of worldwide sources), and pay for digital subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post. I scroll through most of the sources THE WEEK’s researchers steal from. And I see them a week earlier than THE WEEK’s subscribers.
     (In case you missed my May post, I fired The Wall Street Journal when I discovered they were ripping me off.)
    For current news I tune in to CNN, Fox News and MSNBC throughout the day. I don’t feel the need to spend $99.99 for a digital subscription to THE WEEK or ($129.99 for print)—yet another source for last week’s news regurgitated and rewritten.

Takeaways to Consider
• You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

• Direct mail emphatically ain’t dead.

• However, direct mail is horrendously expensive and very complex.

• In the current craze to use vastly cheaper digital promotions, the ranks of old-time direct mail experts are thinning. Do not be conned into hiring a techie wizard who claims complete knowledge of direct mail. You’ll wind up deeply in debt.

• Knowledge needed for successful direct mail: pricing and offers; copy and design; printing and mailing know-how; list research and rental; scheduling; budgeting; forecasting; product fulfillment; follow-up mailings, billing series, upselling and renewals.

• “There are two rules—and two rules only—for successful direct mail. Rule #1: Test everything. Rule #2: See Rule #1.”
 —Malcolm Decker

• Ed Mayer’s Corollary: “Don’t test whispers.”  (E.g., Don’t test $49.95 vs. $49.99. Testing is expensive. Look for breakthroughs.)

“Success in direct mail is 40% lists, 40% offer, 20% everything else.”
—Ed Mayer

• The three most important words in direct mail: “Arithmetic, Arithmetic, Arithmetic!”

P.S. A shout-out with sincere thanks to direct mail guru/expert Dick Goldsmith of the Horah Group for taking the time to check my arithmetic and critique this post. If you are planning to do direct mail, Dick can be reached at

Word count: 960

At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press. He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 years he has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.


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  1. Wow, Denny,
    You never cease to amaze me!
    Just last month I told you about a 'discussion' I had with a website agency for a client on digital marketing vs. direct mail marketing.
    I am simply forwarding this to him! Ha!
    Thanks so much, Denny. You are indeed a national treasure for us 'ancient' direct mail aficionados!

  2. Contents of this website are good and appreciative. Congratulation

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