I first heard about Lester Wunderman from Ajay Row in our MartechBrain conversation. Ajay strongly recommended reading Lester Wunderman’s book “Being Direct”. Wunderman writes: “This is a book about direct marketing, about how to advertise profitably in a postindustrial, information-based society. It is a book about how manufacturers and consumers may engage in an interactive dialogue affecting the behavior of both. It is also a book about the changing paradigm of brands — which used to represent a cluster of product values but now increasingly identify clusters of consumers’ individual needs. I have written this book in the form of an autobiography to show, step by step, how I learned to make advertising pay. It is based not on theoretical hypotheses or secondhand case histories but on the recorded results of the many billions of dollars’ worth of advertising I helped create and whose results I was able to measure. I will describe the rules as I learned them and show how I discovered them — the facts, the hunches, the breakthroughs, and the frustrations — the experiences I used to create the campaigns that succeeded and others that failed.”
Wunderman lists 19 principles of direct marketing in the book:
- Direct Marketing Is a Strategy, Not a Tactic
- The Consumer, Not the Product, Must Be the Hero
- Communicate with Each Customer as an Audience of One
- Answer the Question “Why Should I?”
- Advertising Must Change Behavior, Not Just Attitudes
- The Next Step: Profitable Advertising
- Build the “Brand Experience”
- Create Relationships
- Know and Invest in Each Customer’s Lifetime Value
- “Suspects” Are Not Prospects
- Media Is a Contact Strategy
- Be Accessible to Your Customers
- Encourage Interactive Dialogues
- Learn the Missing “When?”
- Create an Advertising Curriculum That Teaches as it Sells
- Acquire Customers with the Intention to Loyalize Them
- Loyalty Is A Continuity Program
- Your Share of Loyal Customers, Not Your Share of the Market Creates Profits
- You Are What You Know
A few interesting points from Lester Wunderman in a 2008 interview to Clickz:
Media has returned us to personal engagement. This is a good thing. But this is also where I worry. I don’t want to make friends with people who want to sell me something. The supermarket got it right. They proved that you don’t have to be a friend; they only had to provide products at fair prices. That changed the retailing world. I remember going shopping with my mother [as a child], and we went to shops where they knew our names. The butcher knew what she was accustomed to buying. Data is returning us to that kind of relevance. It’s creating warmth that has not existed in advertising when we were starting out.
… We never had a click before. We did have other relationship vehicles (coupons), but we never had this situation where both parties are aware that something further is going to happen. The consumer clicks because she wants to know more. The marketer is aware of the click and wants to do more for the consumer. We never had that signal that could be the beginning of satisfaction for both parties. It has to be dealt with carefully. Corporations have got to set up departments that are sensitive to potential danger that the click can create.
… The difference between a consumer and a customer is what makes success and failure. A consumer might become a customer. A customer is someone who is using a product. If you have a customer, you have to nurture that relationship. You have to make sure the customer continues to buy your product. I think there are going to be tricks and promotions within advertising and marketing. These will cement those relationships.
Ray Shulz wrote about Wunderman in an obituary in January 2019: “[W]hile it is hardly premature when a man of 98 dies, it has to fill email marketers and everyone in this business with sadness and a certain awe. Not that Lester ever focused on email marketing in particular, but everything he did before it paved the way for it.”
Email marketing has become one of the key pillars of direct marketing, and that’s what we turn to next.