Home > NewsRelease > #113 Phil Brown Letter
#113 Phil Brown Letter
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Thursday, October 29, 2020





#113 Blog Post – Wednesday, October 28. 2020


Posted by Denny Hatch


Got a Book in the Works?

Here’s a Sweet Sales Pitch! 

During my direct marketing/junk mail career, I would run into Phil Brown two or three times a year at various business gatherings. We were always glad to see each other and catch up on industry gossip and news.


This past Monday I received a personal letter from Phil, whom I had not thought of for years. When I say “personal” I mean it. See my name and address hand typed on the envelope. And the handwritten “Personal” to the left of address block.


Plus two First Class stamps—one affixed to the outer envelope, the other on the reply envelope.


Phil has a story to tell and he’s spending money to get me involved!


I grew up in the book business. My father wrote 44 historical biographies. I have written 7 business books and 4 novels.


Never in the 75 years I have been reading books have I ever received a letter like the one below—an author to a friend/acquaintance.


The letter touches nearly all bases. My name, Denny, is mentioned 5 times in the letter: address, salutation, twice in the body of the letter and at the close. Phil is talking to me.

Phil Played by the Rules

• He starts with the COVID lockdown. This is current news. He has my attention.

• He will personally sign and dedicate my copy.

• Shipping is free.

• Plus a premium: a free copy of his children's book, Rorag—A Dragon's Quest


Dick Benson on Premiums

• A premium is a bribe to say Yes now.

• Promptness is often the best reason for giving the premium.

• Dollar-for-dollar, premiums are better incentives than cash discounts.

• Desirability is the key element of a premium; the relationship of the premium to the product isn’t important.

• Two premiums are frequently better than one.


  Additional Rules Phil Played by

• “Short words! Short sentences! Short paragraphs! —Andrew J. Byrne, Freelancer

• "Use your real signature—untidy, with flourishes, ugly. Make it obvious YOU signed the letter. Not some damn computer. Your signature is your handshake." —Malcolm Decker

Where Phil Broke the Rules

As I recall, Phil Brown’s entire career was spent in the business of direct mail. He knew all about it—the arithmetic, the mechanics, lists and list rental, printing, inserting, Post Office Regulations and discounts. It is a hugely complex and enormously expensive medium. Try it on your own—without expert guidance—chances are you’ll lose your shirt.

But alas, he broke four long-accepted rules.


1. It's Too Long

50% of adults cannot read at an eighth grade level." —Literacy Project

The addictive nature of web browsing can leave you with an attention span of nine seconds—the same as a goldfish.” —Dr. Ted Selker, MIT Media Lab

When I submitted my first novel, Cedarhurst Alley, my publisher, a laconic Swede named Paul Eriksson, gave me an 8-word critique: “Clean it up and cut it in half.” It was a nightmare but I did it. Cut characters, cut scenes, cut, cut, cut.  It was better, stronger. Funnier. High point in my fiction career: A short review in TIME magazine.


Phil’s letter goes on and on for four pages and runs out of steam well before you get to page 3.”


My suggestion: Phil shouldda cut it in half.


2.  What’s with the Green Type?

Letters should look and feel like letters,” said the great guru Dick Benson.


Nobody types a personal letter and uses green type as part of the body copy. Old Remington typewriters did not have green type! Green type says, “Whoops! This is techno-stuff—not a personally typed letter.

3. Also Included...

Phil included this "brochure" — the "it" copy. The letter is the main salesman and is all about "you": what these features and benefits will do for you.
The brochure is all about "it"—showing it (the product), what it looks like, testimonials and reviews. This 8-1/2" x 11" piece was printed on one side only. The back is blank.
An early rule I learned: never send a blank piece of paper in the mail. Paper is heavy. You know that from lugging a ream of paper for the printer home from Staples. My advice to anyone: design a 5-1/2" x 4-1/4" (half the above piece) and use both sides.
4. The Ultimate Problem
Before anything, always run the numbers. It is absolutely, positively impossible to make money sending out a hugely expensive full-dress direct mail package selling a $12.99 product. 



Word count: 736


 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) 

Note to Readers:  
May I send you an alert when each new blog is posted? If so, kindly give me the okay by sending your First Name, Last Name and email to dennyhatch@yahoo.com. I guarantee your personal information will not be shared with anyone at any time for any reason. The blog is a free service. No cost. No risk. No obligation. Cancel any time. I look forward to being in touch!

Google owns Blogspot.com and this Comment Section. If you do not have a Google account — or if you find it too damn complicated — contact me directly and I will happily post your comment with a note that this is per your permission. Thank you and do keep in touch. dennyhatch@yahoo.com

Invitation to Marketers and Direct Marketers: 
Guest Blog Posts Are Welcome. 
If you have a marketing story to tell, case history, concept to propose or a memoir, give a shout. I’ll get right back to you. I am: dennyhatch@yahoo.com
215-644-9526 (rings on my desk).

You Are Invited to Join the Discussion!

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Denny Hatch
Group: Denny Hatch's Marketing Blog
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA United States
Direct Phone: 215-644-9526
Jump To Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Jump To Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
Contact Click to Contact