Home > NewsRelease > #112 Blog Post - "Oh, My Mail!"
#112 Blog Post - "Oh, My Mail!"
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, October 21, 2020





#112 Blog Post - Wednesday, October 21, 2020


Posted by Denny Hatch






On November 22, 1963 my client and late great friend Paul Goldberg was having lunch with two list brokers at the Pierre Hotel on 5th Avenue in New York. It was an uneventful lunch until the maitre d' stopped by the table, leaned in and said quietly, "Mr. Goldberg, the President has just been shot and killed." 

“Oh, my God!” said the list broker on Paul’s left.
“Oh, my God!” said the list broker on Paul’s right.

“Oh, my mail!” muttered Paul.


Paul nailed the problem. At the time, he was circulation director of Consumer Reports with six million subscribers. Paul—who knew more about the mechanics of direct mail than anyone I have ever met before or since—had just dropped a huge mailing the week before and the envelopes were all arriving across the country precisely when the assassin struck with his Manlicher-Carcano rifle from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository at Dealey Plaza in Dallas.


For the next two weeks the entire country—consumed by paroxysms of grief and disbelief—was glued to our TV sets for the incredible drama that continued to unfold:

• LBJ taking the oath of office on Air Force 1.
• Jackie in her pink pill-box hat and blood-spattered suit.

• The capture of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

• Jack Ruby murdering Oswald live on TV.

• The funeral with princes, prime ministers and presidents.
•Three-year-old John-John's salute to his father.

Nothing of this magnitude had ever been staged or seen by this many people—live and in color—in the history of the world!


Meanwhile, direct mail was being dutifully delivered by the U.S.P.S. (albeit slowly, as letter carriers stopped in front of the TV sets in appliance store windows to gawk at the unfolding tragedy). Paul had to deal with a loss of $75,000 in unopened mail plus the loss of a projected $400,000 from the revenue these mailings (and renewals) would have brought in.


What did the recipients—consumers and business people—do with the mountains of junk mail that was coming their way in this Christmas season?  We let it pile up. And at the end of the second week when things calmed down, we chucked it all out. It was time to start our lives over.


What Triggered This Column: Trump
And the Threat of a USPS Slowdown.

My former neighbor on Gaskell Street emailed me:

Hi Denny and Peggy,
I saw this suggestion in this past Sunday's NYT letters to the editor. Is this feasible? How would it be implemented?

My response:


Great hearing from you.

From a mailer's point of view it's not a bad idea. The hysteria, anger, angst and divisiveness will be reaching fever pitch those first days of November. Direct mail is expensive as hell—the most expensive medium. No experienced direct mail marketer would dream of sending out anything and expect normal results in that time period.


An Elegant Experience:
Vote-by-Mail in Pennsylvania

I’m 85. Peggy considerably younger. We’re damn careful about going out. So early on we decided to vote-by-mail. Back in the days when we ran WHO’S MAILING WHAT! we saved all our mail and analyzed it (along with that of a dozen correspondents around the country). Having downsized to a 2BR Apt w/vu, I save nothing.


However, President Trump’s complaint that voting by mail is a huge scam is hogwash. I can personally attest to receiving probably 20-mailings and 10 emails concerning the disposition of our ballots.


“We received it….” “Watch for it…” “It’s on its way…”  “Here’s what to do when you ballot arrives…” “Watch the mail for your ballot…” “You should have received it by now…” “If you haven’t received your ballot….” 


We dutifully filled them out, took the bus to City Hall and waited (briefly) in line.


It was beautifully organized and staffed with enthusiastic, knowledgeable volunteers. We were in and out in oh, maybe 10 minutes.


Whereupon more mailings arrived from the USPS and various organizations: “If you decided to vote in person on Election Day…” “Be sure to send in your ballot!...” —a positive blitz of urgent reminders. Finally this showed up in my in-box:


                         Takeaways to Consider

• If a catastrophe occurs during a big mailing—a giant mail truck rolls into the Mississippi River taking your mailing with it... or an airliner is hijacked and lands in North Korea—thus causing the news to overpower your mailing (and revenue projections)—just eat it and get on with your life. Shit happens.


• Unlike email—which is basically free—direct mail is expensive as hell. List rental, paper, printing, envelopes, inserting and the biggest cost— postage. Minimum is 50¢ a pop. Often a buck or more.


• With email you are a mouse click away from oblivion.


• Direct mail is physical. It must be handled. It will be noticed. It takes a conscious effort to decide throw it out and throwing it out requires actual labor.


• Contrary to what the President said about the U.S.P.S., it is brilliantly efficient. And reliable.


• “U.S. Postal Service Tops List Again as Americans’ Favorite Government Agency.”



Word Count:846


 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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