Home > NewsRelease > #103 A 3-Word Deal Killer: "Batteries Not Included"
#103 A 3-Word Deal Killer: "Batteries Not Included"
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia , PA
Tuesday, July 28, 2020


#103 Blog Post – Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Posted by Denny Hatch

A Three-Word Deal Killer:

"*Batteries not included" always appear as a mouse-type footnote with an asterisk at the bottom of an ad, order card or so deep in digital copy that it hopefully goes unnoticed. 

When a package arrives in the mail, or via UPS or FedEx, It’s Exciting. Something You’ve Been Looking Forward to.

It’s like a present. You want to tear off the wrapping and start enjoying it immediately! 

You want to instantly… read it… wear it… taste it… cook with it… hang it on the wall… plug it in and watch it… vacuum the rug with it… print out a letter on it.

If it requires batteries, you want to listen to it… call your mother on it… tickle it… use it to take great photographs… or fly it (at no more than 400-feet altitude in accordance with FAA regulations).

If you don’t happen to have the right batteries and can’t immediately start using the purchase, it’s a downer. The longer it sits around unused, the more depressing it becomes.

What do batteries cost when bought in huge quantities? 20¢ each? 40¢ each for a total of 80¢ or $1.60? This could be buried in the price of the product or added to the shipping cost.

Put it this way. The promotion worked like gangbusters. You are blitzed with orders. You are really, really happy and celebrated with Champagne. Now is the time to make your customers really, really happy—and keep them buying for a long time!

A copywriter would never write “*Batteries not included.” It’s a concept added afterwards by sphincter-tight lawyers or bean counters.

As direct marketers we're not here primarily to make a sale; we're here to get a customer. Sales are important, of course. (Where would marketers be without them?) But the name of this game is repeat sales rather than one-shots. And to have that, you need a customer. —Joan Throckmorton

This Post is Really About CREATIVE BACK-END MARKETING: A Boring Title and the Absolute Key to Your Future Success!

For years, the direct marketing industry used as shorthand CRM: “Customer Retention Marketing”—a totally cold, impersonal phrase no doubt dreamed up by some MBA in a white paper or PhD’s business treatise.

Later it was softened CRM: “Customer Relationship Marketing. ”Still academic and stiff.

Along came Denny Hatch with a cranky newsletter, WHO’S MAILING WHAT! He came up with the term, “Customer Relationship Magic.” This never caught on. But then I was always a minnow in an ocean of giant sharks and orcas. Alas.

In the May 1987 issue of my newsletter I wrote:

One of the absolute worst, dumbest things a mailer can do is spend a bundle of money on acquiring a customer — bringing a new member into the family — and then turning the care and feeding of that precious new name over to the customer service department to be batched and butchered by a number cruncher or fulfillment clerk who fills in as a copywriter to save time and money.

This is not the exception; this is the norm.

Let me share with you a story: In 1984 I saw an ad for a half-price offer for Southern Living magazine and subscribed. Here is the acknowledgment:


Dear Pain-in-the-Ass,

You nitwit! You didn’t read the small print that said this offer was limited to people who actually live in the South. Blah… blah… blah.

If I were circ manager of Southern Living, here’s how I would deal with this:

Obviously S.L. Hatch as someone who loves the South, has money and who sent us $8.98 for a subscription.

• I would TEST sending Hatch a welcome letter in an envelope with this teaser:


• Enclose an effusive, personalized letter saying I was delighted to hear from S.L Hatch and to thank him for subscribing.

• Apologize for not making it clear the Special Introductory Offer was for residents who live in the South.

• Make the following offer:

   1. Apply the $8.98 to a six-month subscription. After 6 months. if S.L. Hatch liked the publication, he would be invited to subscribe for a full year. If unhappy at any point, write and receive a full refund of the $8.98 no questions asked.

   2. Southern Living is a major publisher of beautifully illustrated Southern Cookbooks and Garden Books. S.L. Hatch is invited to receive one of these two titles for the $8.98 he sent in:

   3. Refund in full S.L. Hatch’s $8.99

Offer #1 (6-month trial subscription) or offer #2 (buy a book at a big discount) would enable Southern Living to keep the $8.99.

The net effect: the conversion of S.L. Hatch into paying customer who might be receptive to future offers for books, magazines or other goodies. If Hatch wanted a refund, it would be sent immediately.

The entire premise of Back-end Marketing: Creating Customer Relationship Magic!

  • Welcome Letters


  • Upsells

   • Special Deals and Sales


  • Renewals and Billing Efforts


  • Digital Communications—emails, website design and easy navigation


  • Surveys

  • Telephone Sales


• Shipping


• Returns

   • Customer Complaints, Questions, Correspondence


  • Instructions on how to use the product or service.

In short, without superb back-end marketing—world-class writers and designers—you don’t have a business.

Takeaway to Consider


Word count: 857

 You Are Invited to Meet Denny Hatch: http://dennyhatch.blogspot.com/2020/03/87-geezer-fast-yoga.html

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.


Denny Hatch
The St. James
200 West Washington Square, #3007
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-644-9526 (Rings on my desk) 

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215-644-9526 (rings on my desk).

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Name: Denny Hatch
Group: Denny Hatch's Marketing Blog
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA United States
Direct Phone: 215-644-9526
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