Many years ago I had lunch with Chuck Tannen, publisher of FOLIO: The Magazine of Magazine Management. I asked Chuck whether FOLIO was profitable.
“We have the Folio conference and exposition,” he said. “Plus card decks, consulting contracts, books, advertising in the magazine and of course subscription revenue. Every time we acquire a new subscriber, it’s my license to sell that that person whatever I can to help make his business grow. My aim is to surround the market.”
Our Outlaw Past
In 1984, Peggy and I broke the law.
We sent out a dry test—a mailing offering a product that did not exist. What’s more we could not possibly fulfill the offer within 30 days. This was a flat violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s 30-Day Rule.
The product was the newsletter WHO’S MAILING WHAT! based on my giant archive of junk mail. The offer: one year (12 issues) for $99.
We spent $10,000 and sent out 10,000 mailings to two lists.
We brought in enough cash to do a roll-out mailing. The roll-out supplied us with enough cash to launch the publication.
WHO’S MAILING WHAT! Had Built-in Line Extensions
• The Archive: In each monthly issue we listed roughly 1,500 mailings we received in the archive from friends, family and correspondents around the country. Readers who wanted to see these mailings could order black-and-white folding dummies for a fee. We made “paper dolls”—Peggy’s moniker for the process of photocopying, cutting, folding and Scotch taping individual mailings and sending them out to subscribers who wanted to “steal smart.” This brought us extra cash. Today the mailings (and emails) are available as PDFs.
• The Directory of Major Mailers and What They Mail (now Major Mailers Online: Many suppliers to the direct mail industry want to know who these mailers are—names and addresses along with the brief descriptions of the actual mailings. These were purveyors of lists, printing, inserting and mailing services on the prowl for new customers. A side market: everybody in direct mail looking for a new job. Here is the mother lode of people who hire direct marketers, what they mail and who and where they are. The Directory of Major Mailers is still going today as MajorMailers.com.
• Advertising: I also accepted occasional advertising that came in over the transom. I did not actively solicit it, because the publication carried a fairly high-ticket subscription price. Looking back, I was a damned fool. I should have gone after all the loot I could bring in. We would have gotten a better price from Target Marketing when we sold out in 1992.
When we took over Target Marketing in early 1993, it was on the ropes. Peggy and I—plus an outrageous, wonderfully aggressive salesman named Barry Futtersak—saved the publication from oblivion.
Not comfortable in the corporate environment, I got out after five or six years and Peggy took over. Peggy, a managerial whiz-bang, took the print magazine into the digital world.
Okay, the print magazine still exists. But Peggy went on to create a menu of digital and face-to-face goodies. Among them: webinars, virtual shows, e-commerce messaging, book and e-book publishing, custom publishing, whitepapers and special reports.
Plus the WHO’S MAILING WHAT! archive of direct mail and email are available online. Here is priceless information on offers, pricing and copy approaches in 221 categories going back 30 years. Included are more than 1,500 “Grand Controls”—mailings that were in the mail for three or more consecutive years and, ipso facto, huge successes.
Steve Jobs (Apple)
According to Walter Isaacson’s mesmerizing biography, Steve Jobs was a truly terrible human being but a business genius. He started with a primitive Mac computer and had a world-changing epiphany when he incorporated into his systems the Xerox Parc wizardry:
Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.