I just received my issue of Target Magazine yesterday and as usual, immediately turned to the very last page to read Denny Hatch’s column, “Famous Last Words.”
March’s headline: Could Help Be on the Way?
In the article, Denny explained that he and his wife were animal lovers. They’ve been to Africa three times and have always had an assortment of dogs, cats and birds. They have a heart for animals and especially science academies, conservancies and zoos that care for animals and are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Denny contacted some of these organizations, offering his impressive credentials pro bono to help boost donations.
They all declined.
When I read that, I actually gasped aloud.
I mean, WOW. Completely stunned.
It is absolutely breathtaking that the FREE advice of a marketer of this caliber would be rejected.
And so, I have no other choice than to say this to any Millennial marketer who turned down such an opportunity to work with Denny Hatch:
You’re insane. Misguided. And ill-informed.
Sorry for the bluntness but I’m a truth-teller. Let me break it down for you.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
It doesn’t take an Einstein to recognize that what most non-profits do is wring their hands about a lack of donations but yet think that one more “Like” on a Facebook page is going to make a whit of difference.
People donate money when they care. And from my observation, the level of caring produced by social media seems to run the gamut between political skirmishes in some far-off country or how a marketing manager made a complete fool of herself with an insensitive update and now everyone is gleefully anticipating the train wreck of her firing.
Here’s an idea.
Why not try a proven method for getting donations such as a fundraising letter?
Yeah. Denny Hatch could have helped you with that one, Philadelphia.
I’m looking at you, Fairmount Park Conservancy, the Seaport Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo. But too bad for you, he doesn’t offer pro bono work anymore. You might be able to hire him if you ask him nicely but now you’ll pay through the nose for his brilliance.
In the article, Hatch also references social media. He opines, “I guess in this era of social media—where ‘engagement’ is the coin of the realm rather than revenue and profits—us geezers are vestigial.”
Big word, vestigial. It means relating to a body part that has become small and lost its use because of evolutionary change.
Many younger marketers have yet to comprehend the vast field called “marketing.”
Some believe that because they know how to update social media platforms or a web page that this represents the sum parts of marketing. They mistakenly believe that the medium (the Internet) has become the message.
Do these younger marketers realize that direct mail not only still works but that smart organizations are taking advantage of the fact that mailboxes aren’t as crowded as the Internet? And that pesky signal-to-noise ratio is significantly less?
I guess not. Not if they’re turning down help from a direct marketing expert.
Definitely their loss.
Most young marketers know these names: Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, David Meerman Scott, Ann Handley, Sonia Simone, Rae Hoffman or Amber Naslund.
I’m reminded of my college days, when as a graphic design major I was required to take the Art History course.
Since I adored art, this was hardly a chore. Yet I was expected to integrate the artistic principles of Da Vinci, Botticelli, Vermeer, Rembrandt and more with my artistic development.
One art teacher intoned, “You need to learn the rules before breaking them.”
However, as beautiful as art is and although there are principles — those rules still pale in comparison to the black and white reality of direct mail. It is very easy to learn what works and what doesn’t from the response to a mailing.
We are very fortunate to have volumes of books from the “Old Masters” of advertising (Ogilvy, Caples, Schwartz, etc.) that demonstrate what has worked and what hasn’t.
Marketers like Denny Hatch and Drayton Bird have mastered these marketing principles. They know what works and what doesn’t because they’ve tested it with their own clients.
That any marketer would shun such wisdom is beyond me.
The only group of young marketers I see promoting this type of wisdom is Copyblogger, who are one of the rare well-known blogs who have started to talk more about the “Old Masters.”
Even so, the highly accomplished author and copywriter Bob Bly took a beating in the comment box one time because he rejected the use of the “F” word in conjunction with a brand or tagline.
He said the word offended him and thought it would be smart to simply avoid using it in any marketing asset.
Most younger marketers sniped at Bly, claiming, “you’re not my target market, anyway.”
In other words, “Get lost, you old geezer. You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
This said to a man who has a 30+-year track record as a top freelance copywriter, dubbed “America’s top copywriter” by McGraw-Hill and praised by legendary ad man David Ogilvy. He also has written marketing collateral for such organizations as IBM, Westinghouse, Boardroom and many others.
Copywriting is both a science and an art. It takes time to perfect the sales pitch within a message but once it’s done, you have a plethora of marketing tools at your fingertips to reveal what works and what doesn’t.
Men like Denny Hatch knows this stuff like the back of his hand.
I’ll close with a story he shared in the article.
The business development guy from Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences contacted him for some pro bono help. During lunch, Denny shared with him success stories of his famed publication, Who’s Mailing What!, taking them from the archive of direct mail—over 200,000 mailings going back 25 years. Denny then followed up by sending him a sample packet of powerful control mailings from museums around the country. Denny’s explanation: these mailings worked. Let’s pick out several we like and “steal smart.”
He didn’t hear back from his contact and so he called him.
The man said that yes, he did receive the packet. He passed them around to his staff.
“Did these work?” the staffers asked.
“Yes,” the guy said. “Made money.”
“Well they don’t work for us.”
They never brought in Denny to help them and in the museum’s revenue crunch, the business development guy and his entire team were axed.
So if you’re a young marketer, ignore such tried and true experience and wisdom at your own peril.
To be honest, I hope you do.
Because I’ll be the one persuading my own clients to try one winning classic ad or another and raking in the greenbacks.
They’ll be stunned by the results and really won’t care that the creator of such marketing genius was not someone who spoke at the most recent SXSW conference.
They’ll love the results because the copywriting worked.
And finally, I hope you ignore all those musty-dusty marketing masters because it’s less competition for me and I want to spend more time at the beach.