Tuesday, October 11, 2022

#170 SV List


#170 Blog Post - Tuesday, 11 October 2022

Posted by Denny Hatch 


A Mind-blowing Survey and the Unique
List of 20 Million Upmarket Consumers


Many, many years ago I somehow landed as a copywriting client in Toronto a tiny company called Shopper's Voice. I have no idea how we found each other. I went up for an exploratory visit and found I would be working for a peach of guy—perhaps the nicest, most knowledgeable client I ever had. The company was putting together a marketing survey of consumers and wanted some help with the verbiage for the questionnaire and messaging to persuade people to take the survey.


I don't remember my client's name, but my gosh he was a lovely, low-key young guy. I made a couple of trips to Canada for meetings. When I asked about the business model—how he planned to monetize the service—the reply was vague. I didn't pursue it. Instead I concentrated on the copy and he liked what I did. Whereupon after two or three months he announced the company was being acquired by Epsilon. My client was going to marry the love of his life and retire young. I had met Epsilon's John Groman—another lovely guy—who had his own copy staff. I was let go. It was all very amicable.


Revisiting Shopper's Voice

Last month on a whim I Googled Shopper's Voice. All I can say...


I interrupt this blog post to alert readers that after joining Shopper's Voice I am suddenly being blitzed with torrents of JUNK EMAIL, SPAM AND OBVIOUS SCAMS. 


 Denny's Yahoo Inbox


I now continue where I left off as if this rude interruption never happened...


Imagine the profitability of a list of 20 million consumers who are guaranteed to read their mail and order products and services over distance—email, Internet, TV, telephone and direct mail.


What's more all 20 million folks (representing 40 million families) on this list happily blabbed everything about themselves—the entire intimate nitty-gritty of their lives. Among the specifics they shared for their entry:


name - street address - email addresses - family members' ages  - occupation - income - retirement plans - investments - specific credit cards (and reasons for ownership) - credit limit - bank balance -  health - ailments - medications - insurance - real estate - own or rent - hobbies - diet - eating habits - smoking - social concerns - religion -  donations and specific non-profits - interests - sports - apparel  and sizes of family members - magazines - political party - products & services ordered by mail (and from whom) - specific electronics owned - home technology - pets.


Here's a Sampling of How Deep into the Weeds

Of Responders' Lives the Survey Goes

 = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

As a reminder, responses may be used to provide you with information regarding heath conditions and products that might be of interest.



Do any household members have diabetes?




1) What type of diabetes do household members have?

                                                                    You          Others in Household                             

Type 1

Type 2

Not Certain


2) Do household members use any of the following to manage diabetes?

                                                                                    You          Others in Household

Glucose monitor

Insulin injection - 3+ times per day

Insulin injection - 1, 2 or 3 times per day

Insulin pump

Oral medication

Diet or exercise


3) What types of Insulin do household members use?

                                                                      You          Others in Household                                                  

Humulin 70/30



Novolin 70/30





  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Forty-five years later, the business model and promises made sense.


In Shopper's Voice Own Words

Epsilon’s Shopper's Voice database is made up from a mix of online and postal survey responders who have taken the time to complete our comprehensive Shopper’s Voice survey, providing us information about unique, hard-to-find data points such as ailments, product usage, purchase intentions, lifestyles, and demographics.

With Shopper's Voice data, you can reach high potential prospects by targeting consumers with known interest and behaviors. Our precision targeting allows you to reach proven direct mail responsive consumers, maximizing your response rates and reducing your cost per responder. Find the right customers, target them with the right message, and increase your ROI.


Shopper's Voice—You Can Do the Arithmetic on a Cocktail Napkin

Let's say the average one-time rental order is $75/M plus 5 refinements at $10/M for a total of $125/M.

Assuming my arithmetic is correct (I sometimes get lost in zeros) why that's $2.5 million smackeroos every time the list of 20 million consumers is turned.



• Salaries

• Commissions to list brokers

• Minimal digital ad buys to attract consumer volunteers. 

• Minimal expenses for gift premiums and "online thank-you goodies" for participating.

• No product or service development costs.

• No testing costs.

• No cost of goods sold.

• No manufacturing

• No inventory.

• No warehousing.

• No returns.

• Damn near pure profit from a few teensy spritzes of electricity.


Yum, yum.


Quite Frankly, the Con Job in the Survey Is Some of the Most Brilliant Direct Marketing Copy I have Ever Read!

This is the epoch of the Internet, the "cloud" and vast electronic dossiers amassed by corporate America on all of us. By reading our emails and recording our shopping habits, wealth, legal and financial problems the results are mixed. The upside: terrific offers by savvy direct marketers. The downside: ruinous scams out of China, Russia, Nigeria and computer geeks all over the world.


The Shopper's Voice pitch to consumers is fascinating. The entire business model is premised on the fact that most people love to talk about themselves. I remember an old aunt many years ago who—if you asked "how are you?"—would relish telling you for the next half hour.


As a result, the Shopper's Voice Survey is amazing—involving, persuasive, reassuring, flattering and irresistible. I took the Survey and was hooked. I was particularly interested in the health questions. Mercifully, I've had good health all my life. I hate health stuff. Plowing through this litany of diseases and disorders in the lives of others made me feel blessed and grateful. It was a positive experience—especially in these depression-causing years of COVID.


The messaging is brilliant! Shopper's Voice uses four proven Key Copy Drivers (Emotional Hot Buttons) that persuade prospects to act:
             Flattery - Greed - Exclusivity - Salvation


Below Is Some Actual Verbiage Used on the Shopper's Voice Website

("Imagined emotional responses by the consumer are in red.")

  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

"... By sharing your thoughts once a year in our Consumer Product Survey, you play a key role in shaping how your favorite brands, products, and services are developed and improved. By connecting with these companies..." ("I play a key role! I can make a difference!")


"At Shopper’s Voice, we’re about helping you make the most of your shopping. That’s why we make it so rewarding for you to tell us about the brands, products and services you love most. Complete our survey and you’ll have the opportunity for instant flash savings from your favorite brands – plus coupons, samples and free stuff all year long! Plus, as a Shopper’s Voice member, you’ll get Rewards points simply for opening and clicking on our emails – points that you can convert into gift cards...

"By connecting with these companies, they reward you with free samples, coupons and special offers tailored to you – and Shopper's Voice  rewards you with instant flash savings plus a chance to win in our free survey sweepstakes." ("Free goodies! Wheee!")


Shopper's Voice carefully gathers opinions, preferences and insights from shoppers like you around the country through our online consumer opinion survey."  ("I stand out from the crowd! My opinions are worth something!")



At Shopper’s Voice, we’re about helping you make the most of your shopping. That’s why we make it so rewarding for you to tell us about the brands, products and services you love most. Complete our survey and you’ll have the opportunity for instant flash savings from your favorite brands – plus coupons, samples and free stuff all year long! Plus, as a Shopper’s Voice member, you’ll get Rewards points simply for opening and clicking on our emails – points that you can convert into gift cards. ("This is a grand invitation to add meaning to my life, to learn about the world, and receive payments—if not in cash, at least in kind!")

 = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


I Really Liked the Honesty Throughout.

In addition, Shopper's Voice is dead honest and levels with you. For example, in the health-fitness-illnesses section is the oft-repeated caveat:


As a reminder, responses may be used to provide you with

information regarding heath conditions and products that

might be of interest.


"If you want to be successful in Direct Marketing, STEAL SMART.

—Dorothy Kerr, Circ Director, U.S. News & World Report


As I was taking the Survey—answering seemingly hundreds of questions—it quickly became obvious that I was deep into the mother lode of how to persuade and inspire normally wary customers and prospects to give you a ton of information about themselves and their lives.


Suffice it to say Shopper's Voice makes it very difficult to capture the Survey. For example, you must fill out a page, and only then are you allowed to proceed to the next page/section. And it's impossible to download the pages in Word. Remember, this Survey—honed to perfection over 30 years—was (and is) responsible for the creation of a giant list of 20 million names and a cash cow.


Takeaways to Consider

Create a Swipe File like I did at WHO'S MAILING WHAT! which—over 30 years—made me the king of junk mail. (Over the years we isolated 1661 direct mail Grand Controls in 200 categories. These were mailed over at least three consecutive years. The Ultimate example: "The most Successful Advertisement in the History of the World." brought in $2 billion during its 27-year lifespan.")



• When you get to a new page in the Shopper's Voice Survey, immediately take a picture of it, turning it  into a PNG, jpg or whatever.


  When you have a complete file of PNGs, manually retype the questions.


• Download and save all Shopper's Voice  promotions, offers, goodies, artwork and emails.


• You will have at your fingertips the Shopper's Voice entire business model.


• Here's the link to the Shopper's Voice List:



• Here's the link to the Shopper's Voice Survey:





Word Count: 1640


292pp     6" x 9"
Hardcover:     $39.95
Paperback:     $29.95
ebook/Kindle: $19.95



Barnes & Noble



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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Invitation to Marketers and Direct Marketers: 
Guest Blog Posts Are Welcome. 
If you have a marketing story to tell, case history, concept to propose or a memoir, give a shout. I’ll get right back to you. I am: dennyhatch@yahoo.com
215-644-9526 (rings on my desk). 

You Are Invited to Join the Discussion.


  1. Mitchell P. Davis, Proprietor of the Yearbook of Experts and International Platform Association (and long-time friend and mentor) gave me the okay to share his comment with you:
    Good blog today... Yes, it is sort of amazing how much people will tell about themselves.
    ---Sorry to hear it caused you spam.
    But thinking about it, the economics of direct postal mail is so so so much different than email that with the same budget a company and send like 20 times as much content, and therefore the value of the name goes up? right.

  2. NOTE: Paul Prifti gave me the okay to share his emails with you.

    Paulin Prifti
    Thu, Oct 13 at 4:40 AM
    Dearest Denny
    I wanted to thank you for the last issue, 170. I watched the video you posted on YouTube, it was brilliant!
    I am into publishing books and I consider, know, in fact, copywriting is the highest form of all writing, fiction or non-fiction.
    From Bill Jaime and Shackelton to Bonner and Conroy, there is so much to learn from.
    I marvel at how they applied to human desires and concerns and stirred them beyond compare.
    What is your postal address, please?
    Awkwardly yours.
    PS. I am putting together a step by step guide for rookie authors on publishing. One of the most important parts is going to be Copywriting; Writing to Sell for Authors.
    I wondered if I could use some of your examples to illustrate the importance of learning to write how to sell. I will acknowledge for sure you and your work.

  3. Here's a fascinating follow-up exchange with Paul Prifti.

    DH: I screwed up on the title. The term "CONSUMER list" — hindsight was a response killer. Nobody gives a damn about consumer lists. They are mentally associated with the early days of typing up telephone book White Pages — name and address plus phone number... period. Folly to spend money on mailing to everybody at $1 a piece in the mail. In the immortal words of Garrison Keillor, "Oh, for dumb!

    PP: I don't believe you did. it is more a matter of perception and association. The term Consumer List overlaps with what people perceive as Consumer Goods.
    Also, a small percentage of readers, even those who consider themselves marketers, know the importance of such lists.
    What's more, email lists being all the rage nowadays, it makes them think it does not apply the same. The term Prospect has become the term for consumer.

    DH: What this blog post really is:
    A readable mini-Master's Thesis (not in dense, turgid academic prose) on (1) Great Direct Marketing copy (persuades people to blab about their innermost lives); (2) how to use Greed, Exclusivity, Salvation and Flattery in copy; (3) How to research a business model (by studying everything on the Website, YouTube, Google, etc.); (4) And how to Steal Smart. It comes complete with examples of everything from inception, the product, how the product is used and, above all, how it's promoted.

    Referencing my YouTube Video, "The Most Successful Advertisement in the History of the World:

    PP: The examples are great. I have always been an admirer of Shackleton. What a man! When asked about Scott's expedition he said, "I'd rather be a live donkey than a dead lion." I have watched a two-part documentary on Magellan TV, a subscription documentary channel (£59 a year; worth every penny). I will watch your suggestion of the documentary on YouTube. His small newspaper ad is a superb piece of advertising. Martin Conroy's superb 775 word piece is a classic example of 'steel smart'. It reminds me of a much older add of the tale of the two soldiers. But then, look at Do You Make these Mistakes in English? It has been done to death ever since it first appeared. I even use it to title an article I wrote, "Do You Make these Blunders in Your LinkedIn Profile?"