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#111 Blog Post, Blu Blockers
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia , PA
Tuesday, October 13, 2020




#111 Blog Post - Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Posted by Denny Hatch

The Awesome Power of Testimonials! 

The Product That Blitzed America (20 Million+ Sold!) and. . .
The Secret of How the Irrepressible Joe Sugarman Pulled It Off!

One of the revolutionary direct marketers and copywriters in the 1980s and 1990s was Joe Sugarman. He changed direct marketing forever when he introduced the toll-free 800-number.


In addition, Sugarman was the first to market a cordless telephone and  digital watches to everyman (and woman). His print ads in newspapers and magazines were everywhere you turned. For example, if you traveled for business or pleasure back then, every issue of every in-flight magazine of every airline was certain to have two or three full-page ads for Sugarman's goodies and high-tech gadgetry. They were immediately obvious with bold, catchy headlines and long copy that grabbed the reader by the throat and would not let go.


                                The King of Testimonials
In my opinion, Sugarman's greatest contribution to the lore and practice of direct marketing was his spectacular Blu Blocker TV infomercial that ran for 6 years. His secret: assembling man-on-the-street (and woman-on-the-street) drive-by testimonials—and cramming a whopping 35 wildly enthusiastic endorsements into 28 minutes. 


I've never seen anything like this—in terms of entertainment, pure fun and old-fashioned salesmanship—before or since!


                          The Blu Blockers Phee-nom!
After twenty years of selling bizarre products via traditional print channels—magazine and newspaper ads and catalogs—Sugarman's hit the jackpot. The product—of all ho-hum things—sunglasses! His print ad (see illustration above) was a masterpiece with a simply terrific lede:




When I put on the pair of
glasses what I saw I could
not believe. Nor will you.


By Joseph Sugarman

I am about to tell you a true story. If you believe me, you will be well rewarded. If you don't believe me, I will make it worth your time to change your mind. Let me explain. . .


This is intimate, personal direct marketing using mass media—magazines and newspapers.

Note the byline. Few copywriters sign their work.

He uses "I" and "me" (as opposed to "we," "us" an "our.") 

"The most important word in direct copy is not 'you'—as many of the textbooks would have it—but 'I,'" freelancer Richard Armstrong wrote to me. "What makes a letter seem 'personal' is 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."


Whereupon Sugarman ledes with a story.


Tell a Story If Possible
"Everybody loves a good story, be it about Peter Rabbit or King Lear. And the direct mail letter, with its unique person-to-person format
is the perfect vehicle for a story. And stories get read. The letter I wrote to launch the Cousteau Society twenty-some years ago has survived hundreds of tests against it. When I last heard, it was still being mailed in some form or other. The original of this direct mail Methuselah started out with this lead: 'A friend once told me a curious story I would like to share with you'..." —Harry Walsh, Freelance copywriter


"Story telling is very, very important. Some of my greatest ads, most successful ads, started with a story. And the story often has very little to do with the product you're selling or the service you're offering. But... people love stories, because when they were very young, when they were very small, they were read stories. And that's how they communicated and understood the world. So story telling is a really important part. It's one of the psychological triggers that I use a lot."
—Joe Sugarman

Marketing Genius Joe Sugarman


Now Watch These Two Simply Wonderful Videos!

Video #1: The Intriguing Backstory of Joe's Wildly Undisciplined, Unscripted Ad Hoc, Ad Lib infomercial.
Joe Sugarman's marketing of Blu Blockers was stunning—first via print and then all over television with his amazing infomercial.
Before I give you the link to the eye-popping, rule-breaking sales pitch, here is Joe revealing the Blu Blocker Story.



Video #2: Click Here for Joe's Brilliant Infomercial!
Watch for: 35 Real-life Testimonials (Count 'em!) in 28 Minutes!



Takeaways to Consider

• Whenever I get a copy assignment, I immediately want to know everything about the product or service. I want to see it, hold it, use it, get to know it, get from the client all the specs, features, benefits (what these features will do for me), USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and the story of the person or the company behind it.


• My last question is always: “Do you have testimonials from happy customers?”


• Astonishingly, the answer is often, “Oh, yeah, I think we’ve got some testimonials. I’ll see if we can find them. I Think they’re in a box somewhere.”


• “Don’t just say it — prove it!  Use testimonials, case histories.”
—Andrew J. Byrne


• A testimonial is another member of your sales team. It adds credence to you message.


• “If one testimonial tests well, try two. But don’t use testimonials by celebrities unless they are recognized authorities, like Arnold Palmer on golf clubs.”
—David Ogilvy


• "There are too many cases of testimonials being used in direct marketing campaigns without prior knowledge of the client/customer."
—Bob Martel


• “Always be clear what you are going to use the testimonial for and get their permission and ask them not to date it; that way you can use it for quite a while without anyone asking what has he/she done lately.”
Donn Richardson 


• “For testimonials, send the customer the text and have them type it onto their letterhead.”
— Bob Wells


 • Ask the customer if you can use his/her name.
      • Full name (Doris Smith)?
      • Partial name (D. Smith)?
      • Initials (D.S., Peoria, IL)? 


• Always include a stamped, self-addressed envelope to make it easy peasy for the person to send you the testimonial.


• "Real testimonials have a genuine sound to them that’s very hard to reproduce, maybe the grammar is ever so slightly off, a peculiar choice of word usage, a point made that no professional copywriter ever would have considered; try and use these real raindrops wherever possible before you start seeding the clouds. Back in the days when silver dollars were common currency, bartenders, store clerks, etc. used to drop the dollar on the counter and listen to the ring... because it was distinctly different from the dull sound made by lead counterfeits.  I’ve found the same to be true of testimonials. People can spot the real ones from the made-up ones a mile away. So while I don’t disagree with the rules above, I’d be very careful about doing too much rewriting, suggesting and editing."
—Richard Armstrong 


• If you have a tiger by the tail (e.g., Blu Blockers) get the word out everywhere—with infomercials, TV spots, space ads, digital promotions, Social Media, direct mail, even maybe test roadside billboards. The effect can be cumulative. 

• If you use a person's testimonial, send a thank-you gift—flowers or one of your products—something that shows your appreciation.




Word Count:1162

 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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