Wednesday, November 16, 2022

#174 Bean Guarantee

http://dennyhatch.blogspot.com/2022/11/174-bean-guarantee.html

 

Posted by Denny Hatch

 

 #174 Blog Post - Wednesday, 16 November 2022

 

Posted by Denny Hatch

 

Don't Let Your Lawyers

Castrate Your Guarantee

 


 

L.L. Bean, Granddaddy of Niche Catalogs

 

Leon Leonwood Bean (1872-1967) was a passionate outdoorsman. In 1911 he invented the "L.L.Bean Boot, made in Maine since 1912." He figured out how to combine a comfortable waterproof full-grain leather upper with a waterproof rubber bottom that keeps the foot absolutely dry.

 

Based on his remarkable invention he founded the business in 1912. Over the years, L.L. Bean expanded into summer and winter stylish, sturdy outdoor and indoor casual clothing and sporting accessories.

 

It was in 1916 that Bean came up with the simplest, most powerful and deeply personal guarantee in the history of direct marketing:

 

 

Why This Guarantee Is So Powerful
And How It Was Wrecked by Lawyers


 It's the ‘I’.
"The most important word in direct copy is not ‘you’ — as many of the textbooks would have it — but ‘I.' What makes a letter seem ‘personal’ is not seeing your own name printed dozens of times across the page, or even being battered to death with a never ending attack of ‘you’s.’ It is, rather, the sense that one gets of being in the presence of the writer... that a real person sat down and wrote you a real letter." —Richard Armstrong, direct marketing copywriter.

 

Okay, Bean's 16 words are not in a letter. Rather they are in the form of a simple blurb that can appear everywhere—as a small card or "lift piece" in a direct mail package or an ad in the catalog—all the way down to a label sewn onto an article of clothing. Note it starts with "I". It is signed by L.L. Bean himself, founder and owner of the business.

 

"Don't overlook the importance of your signature. Your signature is your handshake."

—Malcolm Decker

 

Danger: The Era of "Catalog Bandits"

Bean's Guarantee was operational for 96 years—from 1916 to 2018.

 

"A classic catalog bandit is the woman who has been invited to a formal gala evening. She goes to her favorite catalog source of dress clothes and orders three gowns. She tries them on in front of a full-length mirror and decides on which one to wear to the party. She receives compliments throughout the evening. The next day she packs up the three gowns, returns them to the cataloger for a full refund." —Bob Doscher

 

A Letter to L.L. Bean Customers

Since 1912, our mission has been to sell high-quality products that inspire and enable people to enjoy the outdoors. Our commitment to customer service has earned us your trust and respect, as has our guarantee, which ensures that we stand behind everything we sell.

 

Increasingly, a small, but growing number of customers has been interpreting our guarantee well beyond its original intent. Some view it as a lifetime product replacement program, expecting refunds for heavily worn products used over many years. Others seek refunds for products that have been purchased through third parties, such as at yard sales.

 

Based on these experiences, we have updated our policy. Customers will have one year after purchasing an item to return it, accompanied by proof of purchase. After one year, we will work with our customers to reach a fair solution if a product is defective in any way. 

 

This update adds clarity to our policy and will only affect a small percentage of returns. It will also ensure we can continue to honor one of the best guarantees in retail, with no impact for the vast majority of our customers. To learn more, please view our full return policy at llbean.com. 

 

L.L.Bean has stood for quality, service, trust, and getting people outdoors ever since my great-grandfather founded our company over 100 years ago - and that will never change.

 

Thank you for being a loyal customer and we look forward to continuing to inspire and enable you to Be an Outsider.

 

Sincerely, Shawn O. Gorman
L.L.Bean Executive Chairman

February 9, 2018,
9:34 AM ET

 

The Current L.L. Bean Guarantee

Where This Current Guarantee Fails

• Obviously a CYA effort written and approved by lawyers.

 

"OUR GUARANTEE"... "We stand behind all our products..."

 

• A faceless group ("We" and "Our") can't guarantee anything. Only one real person can—a live person you can write to or call with a complaint. Clearly the Bean company is full of weasels where nobody has the cojones to use his or her real name to take responsibility of standing behind their products.

 

"For details, please refer to our Return Policy."

 

• Uh-oh. Clearly this is not the 16-word no-nonsense promise of old L.L. himself. It smells of disclaimers and complications.

 

A Quick Update on L.L. Bean's History

• L.L. Bean assumed room temperature in 1967.

 

• He was succeeded by grandson, Leon A. Gorman (1934-2015).

 

• Leon was succeeded by great-grandson, Shawn Gorman, in 2013.

 

• Shawn was succeeded by Stephen Smith, in January 2016

 

• Stephen Smith is the fourth president and CEO of L.L. Bean in its first 110 years.

 

• Today L.L. Bean has 57 bricks-and-mortar stores nationwide including its Freeport, Maine headquarters open 24/7 that welcomes three million visitors a year.

 

• L.L. Bean's net revenue at close of 2021 fiscal year: $1.8 billion.

 

• Adding to is retail reach Bean mails 200 million catalogs per year.

 

A New, Modern Guarantee Created

By Denny Hatch (Just for This Post)

 



 

Takeaways to Consider

  "Why is Ben and Jerry’s causing meltdowns in the sale of other ice cream manufacturers? Because everyone knows that these two guys not only make the stuff themselves by hand, but also personally examine each scoop.
     "Why is L.L. Bean the envy of Macy’s? Same reason. Because everyone knows that old L.L. not only sews the shoes himself, but also sees that they fit.
     "The two basic tenets of selling are that (1) people buy from other people more happily than from faceless corporations and (2) in the marketplace as in theater, there is indeed a factor at work called 'the willing suspension of disbelief.'

     "Who stands behind our pancakes? Aunt Jemima. Our angel food cake? Betty Crocker. Our coffee? Juan Valdez. Anyone over the age of three knows that it’s all a myth. But like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, the myths are comforting."
—Bill Jayme, Legendary copywriter


• Note Steve Smith's line: "If you are not 100% satisfied with a purchase from L.L. Bean...." Obviously your transaction is in the L.L.'s computer. 


• Never demand "proof of purchase." It's a pain in the neck. What's more you might find yourself in a nasty fight over a Chinese counterfeit product.


• Make sure the guarantor uses his or her real signature in blue or black—not a phony-baloney, sanitized computer font. Your signature is your handshake.


• "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." —Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2.

 

###

 

Word count: 1119

 


 

 

The Most Fun You Can Have
In the English Language
 
 
 
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.

CONTACT

dennyhatch@yahoo.com

Note to Readers:  
May I send you an alert when each new blog is posted? If so, kindly give me the okay by send
ing your First Name, Last Name and email to dennyhatch@yahoo.com. I guarantee your personal information will not be shared with anyone at any time for any reason. The blog is a free service. No cost. No risk. No obligation. Cancel any time. I look forward to being in touch!

IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE POSTING A COMMENT… EMAIL ME! I'LL HELP!
Google owns Blogspot.com and this Comment Section. If you do not have a Google account — or if you find it too damn complicated — contact me directly and I will happily post your comment with a note that this is per your permission. Thank you and do keep in touch. dennyhatch@yahoo.com

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.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

#173 Twitter Layoffs

http://dennyhatch.blogspot.com/2022/11/173-twitter-layoffs.html

 

#173 Blog Post - Wednesday, November 9, 2022

 

Posted by Denny Hatch

 

If You (or a Friend) Work for Twitter,
This Riveting Story Will Be Helpful

 


This one-shtick comic became the second most famous man in America—no kidding! 

Two years later tragedy struck the country, he was out of a job and vanished.

 

In 1961, Vaughn Meader, was a 25-year-old kid just out of the Army. He started out honing his act and earning a meagre living as a singer/piano player in little clubs and bars around New York. He tried spicing up his act with comedy material and was getting a few laffs.

 

Born and raised in Waterville, Maine, Vaughn had a New England accent. In one of his seedy venues someone pointed out to him that his voice sounded exactly like that of America's newest national heart throb, recently elected President John F. Kennedy. Vaughn began injecting Kennedy impressions into his monologues and creating a minor sensation in the little gin mills where he landed performing gigs.

 

Enter the Wizardry of Earle Doud

In 1958-1960 I was a  student at Columbia College and had a part-time job nights and weekends as an NBC page. A regular part of my beat was arriving late in weekday evenings at NBC's Hudson Theater on West 44th street where I was stationed at the stage door or worked at seating audiences for the great Tonight Show host/comedians—Steve Allen, Ernie Kovacs and Jack Paar as well as guests performers such as Jonathan Winters and Jackie Gleason. At the theater was always a gaggle of comedy writers hovering in the background providing funny lines for the cast and looking to be paid by the joke. Among them: Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Carl Reiner and a good-looking dude, Earle Doud.

 

                                                    Earle Doud (1927-1998)

Over his career, Doud wrote Jokes for a Who's Who of American television comedians of the time—Jackie Gleason, Johnny Carson, Sid Caesar and so many more. That year, 1962, Doud was tipped off about a guy around town who was doing spot-on impersonations of President Kennedy. At a small club he attended a performance by Vaughn Meader. He was dazzled by the John F. Kennedy impersonations and immediately began providing jokes. A sampling of the Doud-Meader collaboration:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bi2VBOeAfLw


The similarity was truly uncanny. Here's the real President Kennedy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oC8ViHIuwuM

 

Doud began writing jokes for Vaughn Meader and the young performer began generating notoriety and appearing in larger venues such as colleges and town halls. Here's part of a routine:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35aO9GdOAZ0&t=10s

 

Earle Doud finally bit the bullet and wrote a full-fledged comedy album that was a good-natured spoof of the sainted Kennedys. (None of the vicious vitriol of today's satire on, say, SNL and late night.)  Doud and his partner, writer and television producer Bob Booker, persuaded a small recording company (not, for example, RCA, Columbia or Capitol), Cadence Records that specialized in the spoken word (as opposed to music) to produce it.

 

The recording session took place on October 22, 1962, with Vaughn Meader as President Kennedy and Naomi Brossart as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.

 

 

A Boffo Blowout!!!

The First Family became the fastest selling record in history.

 

The First Family sold one million copies a week in the first six weeks.

 

• It was #1 on the Billboard 200 charts for 12 weeks.

 

• By January of the following year 7 million albums had been sold.

 

• Excerpts were a craze on radio nationwide.

 

• Everywhere—on radio, TV, at dinner tables and in bars and restaurants—the memorable punch lines from The First Family were being quoted by delighted Americans.

 

• Meader's career took off like a rocket with features in TIME and LIFE, with live performing gigs all over the U.S. including guest appearances on top-rated television (e.g. The Ed Sullivan Show). What's more, Vaughn played to packed houses in Las Vegas.

 

• In short, twenty-five year-old Vaughn Meader had become the second most famous man in America.

 

The First Family won the Grammy for Best Album of the year 1963.

 

• Jack Kennedy was so amused that he bought 100 albums to give as Christmas presents.

 

• When The First Family Volume Two was released the original had already sold more than 7.5 million records.

 

• Earle Doud—along with his freelance writing jobs—created a mini cottage industry of similar records: Welcome to the LBJ Ranch, Lyndon Johnson's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The First Family Rides Again (Ronnie and Nancy Reagan) and Spiro T. Agnew Is a Riot.

 

Meader's World Ends with a Bang—
Not a Whimper, November 22, 1963 

Actually it was three bangs in six seconds from an Italian Mannlicher-Cacano military rifle fired at a presidential motorcade from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository on Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

 

A drifter named Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated the glamorous, beloved young president in perhaps the single most shocking event of the 20th century (along with the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor).

 

"Immediately after Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, producers Booker and Doud, along with Cadence president Archie Bleyer, pulled both albums from sales and had all unsold copies destroyed so as not to seemingly "cash in" on the President's death. Both albums remained out of print until they were finally re-issued on CD together in 1999. John Fitzgerald Kennedy—A Memorial Album, collecting the late president's best known speeches, was released on 12 December, sold at 99 cents, profits to the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation, within six days it claimed sales of 4 million, breaking The First Family's record." —Wikipedia

 

Abbott Vaughn Meader was Lee Harvey Oswald's second victim.

 

Meader's career never recovered.

 


 

"Vaughn Meader, 68, who gained fame satirizing John F. Kennedy's presidency in the multimillion-selling album "The First Family," only to have his star plummet when the president was assassinated, died Oct. 29 at his home in central Maine after refusing to be taken to a hospital. Sheila Meader, his fourth wife, to whom he was married 16 years, said he had chronic emphysema. With Kennedy's death, his acts were canceled and stores pulled the album. His famous friends no longer associated with him. Mr. Meader said he turned to alcohol and started using cocaine and heroin. After a period of drifting, he returned to Maine in 2002, where he wrote and played bluegrass and country music and became known for his honky-tonk performances in small bars." —Associated Press Obituary, Monday, November 1, 2004; Page B07

 

SPECIAL BONUS: A Link to the Full
Legendary Recording, The First Family.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xwu8S6Ekx9w&t=160s



Takeaways to Consider:
The Twitter Connection

 

• What does Vaughn Meader's story have to do with Direct Marketing and especially Twitter?

 

• Everything.

 

"Somebody who knows only one direct marketing skill, whether it's art direction, copywriting or list management, does not even know that properly." —Martin Gross

 

Vaughn Meader's life and career became tied to John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was Meader's "shtick"—a word in used in Jewish theater meaning "gimmick, comic routine, style of performance, etc. associated with a particular person."

 

• Meader was a "one trick pony" (which I called a "one-shtick pony" earlier in this blog post).

 

• Meader was the other victim killed by Lee Harvey Oswald's gun. His entire act went from humor to horror in six seconds in Dallas. His career was deader than Kelsey's nuts.

 

• And he had no other skills. (Okay, Meader could play the piano and sing, but so can millions of others).

 

• Not only was Meader out of work. He was a pariah.

 

Now think of Twitter.

 

• Elon Musk, the world's richest person ($208.3 Billion)—a specialist in automobiles and space exploration—bought Twitter, a giant communications company for $44 billion.

 

• Musk's very first action as the dilettante, know-nothing owner of Twitter was to fire half the staff—3700 employees with incomes, mortgages, families to feed.

 

• How many of these 3700 men and women now walking the streets (and maybe forced to move back in with their parents) have expertise in a narrow specific job in a unique, one-of-a-kind giant company that's not part of any recognized industry (e.g. chemicals, manufacturing, advertising, retail, hospitality)? How many are one-trick ponies relishing the yuppie corporate culture and being one-trick ponies?

 

BREAKING NEWS

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said it was laying off more than 11,000 workers after a steep slide in digital revenue and profit.
—New York Times, November 9, 2022 6:18 AM ET


 

• My advice to one-trick ponies: CYA. Moonlight.

 

About Moonlighting

I had nine jobs in my first twelve years of working after getting out of the Army. Most of the guys who hired me—some were family friends and relatives—gave me a warning. "By the way, no moonlighting," they said. "If I find you moonlighting, you're fired. You work for [company name] now and we expect absolute loyalty and 110% of your time." I never dared to moonlight (even though I had some offers). I was fired from five of those first 9 jobs. I was a damned fool. 

 

 

• David Ogilvy on Moonlighting

 

Memo to Directors

 

January 17, 1973

 

WE ENCOURAGE MOONLIGHTING, PARTICULARLY AMONG OUR COPYWRITERS.

 

It gives them experience.

 

It gives them more sense of responsibility.

 

It increases their income—at no cost to us.

 

I learned this dodge from Dr. [George] Gallup. He paid us miserably, but encouraged us to moonlight.

 

Rosser Reeves [legendary advertising copywriter] did a lot of it. So did I. One year I made more—far more—moonlighting than I did at the agency. And it sharpened my wits.

 

Anyone who opposes moonlighting is a pettifogger.

 

Only two rules. Chaps must not moonlight on competing accounts or for other agencies, and they must not be caught doing the work in office hours.

 

 

• If you do moonlight, don't dare tell anybody in your company. 

 

• Ideally do your moonlighting in a totally different industry.

 

 • Remember, if you moonlight and get fired from your regular job, you're still working.

 

"Right now, the latest data shows that we have over 10 million job openings in the U.S.—but only around 6 million unemployed workers. We have a lot of jobs, but not enough workers to fill them. If every unemployed person in the country found a job, we would still have 4 million open jobs."
— Stephanie Ferguson, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, October 31, 2022

 

###

 

Word count: 1661

 

 

 

 

The Most Fun You Can Have
In the English Language
 
 
 
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.

CONTACT

dennyhatch@yahoo.com

Note to Readers:  
May I send you an alert when each new blog is posted? If so, kindly give me the okay by send
ing your First Name, Last Name and email to dennyhatch@yahoo.com. I guarantee your personal information will not be shared with anyone at any time for any reason. The blog is a free service. No cost. No risk. No obligation. Cancel any time. I look forward to being in touch!

IF YOU HAVE TROUBLE POSTING A COMMENT… EMAIL ME! I'LL HELP!
Google owns Blogspot.com and this Comment Section. If you do not have a Google account — or if you find it too damn complicated — contact me directly and I will happily post your comment with a note that this is per your permission. Thank you and do keep in touch. dennyhatch@yahoo.com

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.