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Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The astonishing Denny Hatch - again

I know quite a few of you are marketers, so I thought I might say a little more about Denny, whom I think I am having lunch with tomorrow.

First, if you haven’t looked at his blog, www.businesscommonsense.com, do so. He has had a most interesting life and always has something well worth reading.

I don’t really agree with him entirely in his comments about the Belgian Eurostar campaign – which must be the first time we have ever differed. He is worried about children’s reactions to a naughty poster.

Well, I have helped to bring up quite a few children. Eventually even the most backward child is going to learn the shocking facts about urinating, which is not on the same level of impropriety as killing people.

What’s more, I have always found kids at that age more intrigued or amused by bodily functions than maybe they are in Philadelphia, where Denny lives. Almost the first thing kids of a certain age start doing is telling each other naughty jokes about such things.

Come to think of it, when she was two my daughter, who is now twelve, used to spend a lot of time trying to catch sight of me in the toilet. Once or twice she succeeded, but she seems to have survived the experience without lasting scars.

Anyhow, back to Denny. Although I think I’m quite a hard worker, I am a sloth compared to him.

Years ago he started a newsletter called Who’s Mailing What which gave you a wonderful picture of that people were mailing in the U. S. I once rang up his wife and asked how many mailings he scrutinised each month. “Two to three thousand,” she replied.

Somebody here copied or adapted the idea and used the same name. Denny came over to try and stop him but was defeated by the intransigence of the courts here. No wonder he quotes in his latest blog, Shakespeare’s line, “First, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

With co-editor Axel Andersen Denny also put together an excellent compendium called Million Dollar Mailings of all the most successful mailings in the U.S. I often refer to it when stuck.

For some weird reason I have never fathomed (stupidity, maybe?) many on-line marketers seem to imagine their customers mutate when sitting in front of computer screens and don’t react to the same stimuli. They do. Only the medium changes; the customers don’t.

That is why a book like the one I mentioned is so valuable.

Which reminds me: yesterday I was the chairman of a little conference on e-mail marketing. The day was hilarious for several reasons.

First, there was a major excavation taking place next door, so for much of the morning you couldn’t hear. Second, the sound system was totally f***ed anyhow. Third, the suppliers in the audience outnumbered the clients three to one.

It reminded me of an old joke - “Whenever three Americans meet, they form a club, elect a chairman, secretary, and treasurer and start selling things to each other.”

Interestingly, the speakers kept saying, “It’s just direct marketing” – which pleased me, as for ten years I have been defining on–line as accelerated direct marketing. And they all talked about testing – which many “conventional” direct marketers seem to have forgotten about - which means they are definitely idiots.

What puzzled me, though, was that most of the e-mail examples were what I call internet leaflets – the equivalent of those old mail shots that used to come with no letter. I find the personal approach works much better – as in direct mail

Anyhow, the hotel gave us free drinks to compensate for the chaos. So that was pretty good.

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