Home > NewsRelease > #107 Flattery! From Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
#107 Flattery! From Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia , PA
Tuesday, September 1, 2020



 #107 Blog Post – Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Posted by Denny Hatch


How Flattery Can Dramatically Increase Your
Response in Email, Direct Mail and Print Ads


Once upon a time BTI (Before-the-Internet) if a marketer wanted to make an offer, the mailing was created and lists of logical prospects were rented.

In the 1960s, legendary freelance copywriter Ed McLean was hired to write a direct mail subscription letter for Newsweek. At the time he wrote it, McLean was new to the business. He became fascinated with the whole concept of list selection while sitting in on meetings with Pat Gardner (later circulation director of Family Media) and the late Red Dembner, then Newsweek's circulation director.

Above is the Ed McLean’s brilliant lede for Newsweek.

It was an off-beat approach—one that both flattered the reader and, at the same time, let prospects in on how they came to receive the solicitation. Many people wrote in to ask what list they were on. A few complained. Many more responded by subscribing to the magazine.

It was control for many years and was mailed in the tens of millions.

This Post Is About How to Write Copy—
Not Just Any Copy—But Great Copy!

I’m talking about copy that persuades people to change their behavior:

         • 0rder a product or service.
         • Donate money to a cause.

         • Send for more information.

In order to change behavior, it is imperative to use one (or more) of the Seven Key Copy Drivers — the hot-button emotional cattle prods that make people act.

It was Seattle direct marketing guru Bob Hacker and Swedish entrepreneur Axel Andersson who came up with the 7 Key Copy Drivers:

Fear – Greed – Guilt – Anger
Exclusivity – Salvation - Flattery

These are the basic seven. The only seven.

“If your copy isn't dripping with one or more of these, tear it up and start over.”
—Bob Hacker

The greatest historical collection of direct mail samples was Peggy’s and my WHO’S MAILING WHAT! Archive, with detailed results information on more than 425,000 mailings in nearly 200 categories going back 35 years.

The second greatest archive was amassed by the retired Swedish direct marketing mogul and guru Axel Andersson—the world’s premier student of the direct marketing letter. Twice a year he would fly north to visit our archive. He spent his days prowling through our mailings at our offices making sheaves of notes. Meanwhile, we in turn, would send him weekly boxes of duplicate mailings down to Palm Coast, Florida where he bought the house next door to store his massive collection.

One year he analyzed 1,127 direct mail letters (consumer, b2b, fund raising and other nonprofits (e.g., association memberships, Who’s Who directories, etc.).

Axel’s astonishing discovery: 42% of all these letters in dozens of different industries were pinned to flattery.

The takeaway: If you can make your prospects feel real good about themselves—proud their accomplishments, positions and sense of self-worth—you will capture their attention and they will more likely respond.

This is not about direct mail marketing vs. digital marketing.
It’s about messaging—how to make it work in every medium.

(Incidentally, all letters shown in this post are Grand Controls. They were mailed over 3 consecutive years or more—sometimes a lot more—which means they generated millions of dollars in revenue!)


                                          Takeaways to Consider
• The Seven Key Copy Drivers—the emotional hot buttons that get people to act:
              Fear - Greed - Guilt - Anger - Exclusivity - Salvation - Flattery

• “If your copy isn’t dripping with one or more of these, tear it up and start over.
— Robert Hacker

• These 7 copy drivers have shown to increase response in every medium— digital/Internet, direct mail, space advertising, telemarketing.

• There was a period when Ed McLean's mailing would never fly. Consumers got squeamish about direct marketers knowing so much about them—the magazines they read, book club membership, purchases for the house, etc.

• Ed McLean and I had a long conversation about this and he agreed that his lede woud be a tough sell.

• Ed came up with this marketing rule: “You must dumb down what you know.”

• In other words, you may know a lot about the person you are writing to, but you cannot reel off information about a person that you got from someplace else. It is eerie. It is creepy. It is disrespectful.

• Of course today our private lives are known to the world.

• In an early blog I caught a guy red-handed stealing a private message from my Yahoo email exchange with a subscriber. It pissed me off. But then I said screw it; this is how things are now.


Word count: 742


 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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