Home > NewsRelease > #127 Prune Board Effort
#127 Prune Board Effort
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Tuesday, May 18, 2021




#127 BlogPost — Tuesday, May 18, 2021


Guest Postby Bob Blinick
BlinickDirect, Lawrenceville, NJ


Direct Marketing forPR Is Almost Always a No-No.
This Oddball EffortPulled an Amazing 33% Response


I love itwhen a subscriber suggests a direct marketing scheme that none of us would havea chance in hell of knowing about or even imagining. With 50 years in directmail/direct marketing, every chip of my DNA—every mentor, every company, everyboss I ever had—knows it's nuts to use direct mail for PR/publicity for threereasons. 1) Direct mail is too expensive. 2) With direct you test small,reconfirm large and larger and then roll out to surprise hell out of yourcompetitors, cream the market and rent a villa on the Amalfi Coast for thesummer. 3) Direct mail results are precisely measurable in terms of arithmetic—productor service) pricing, allowable cost-per-order and leveragability. My thanks toBob Blinick of Blinck Direct, Lawrenceville, NJ for sharing. —DH

Adirect mail program for The California Prune Board

• Inducetrial of California prunes.

• Sellmore California prunes


• Establishthe connection between prunes and health.

• Re-positionprunes as more than just a goodtasting snack

•Both physicians and consumers were unaware of the fiber content and nutritionalvalue of prunes, and considered them “just a snack food…”

•Materials used in a physician’s office must stand alone and require little,if any, active support from the physician and or staff

• A multi-step program that educated physicians about the nutritional value of prunes, enticed them to distribute prune samples to their patients, educated patients, and provide an ongoing "involvement" mechanism (cents-off coupons and a recipe book) to motivate future prune purchases.

CreativeElements: Initial Mailing Package to Physicians

Shipping Box to Physician

A sample package of prunes
• (See ledeillustration above)


Cover Letter
Explains the elements in the shipping box — A Physicians’ Guide toFiber, Fiber Facts for a Healthier You, and a sample pack of prunes.   The letter had a modest Call To Action and askedthem fill out and return a Business Reply Card to order more prune samples andadditional Fiber Facts sheets for patients.

Nutritional information for physicianswritten and
designed to look like it came from amedical journal

     A pad of information sheets for patients

A Supply of cents-off coupons for patients 
• Attached to a Business Reply Card that enabled them to request a booklet of prune recipes.

A reply card
• Enabled physicians to request additional samples, patient information sheets and coupons.

• Large display box with 100 one-ouncesample packages of prunes
• Additional patient information pads
• Additional cents-off coupons and BRCs


• Letter.

• Prune recipes booklet.

• Additional cents-off coupons.


33% - Initial response rate from physicians.
(Percent of physicians who requested the large box ofsamples and additional supplies.)

7% - Response rate from non-solicited physicians who saw the prune sample box and Fiber Facts sheets in a colleague's office

12.6% - Coupon # 1 redemption rate: 
(Percent of consumers who redeemed the coupon obtainedfrom the doctor’s office.)


9.8% - Coupon # 2 redemption rate
(Percent of consumers who redeemed the coupon suppliedwith the recipe booklet.)

Takeaways to Consider —DH

• The simplest business model I ever heard was Jay Leno's which ran just 6 words:  "Write joke. Tell Joke. Get check."

• The Blinick/Prune Board business model—a series to physicians, physicians to patients/consumers—and Prune Board to patients/consumers was tricky, complex stuff.

• The numbers were eye-popping compared to general direct mail where—in those days—a 2% response was considered average (and profitable). Three percent and higher called for Dom Perignon.

• I cannot believe it would be possible to precisely measure the increase in prune sales tracked back to that promotion.


 Word count: 625


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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! newsletterand archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 yearshe 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
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215-644-9526 (Rings on my desk) 

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