January 29, 2022

Many of us pride ourselves on being students of the craft of marketing and copywriting…and part of that includes becoming adept at “stealing smart.” 

Now remember, stealing is a felony and stealing smart is an art. 

And stealing smart as an art equates to re-purposing, re-imagining, re-engineering winning ideas, platforms, and design…which has nothing to do with copying, pasting or plagiarism. 

Today I want to tell you about “The Original Gangster of Stealing Smart,” and despite being labeled as a gangster for this blog post, be advised he is not on any FBI lists of most wanted direct marketing criminals. 

Far from it. 

This O.G. wears the title like a badge of honor. 

The gentleman I want to talk about today…or rather will let him tell his own story…is Denny Hatch. 

Denny is currently a Professor Emeritus of Direct Marketing, by blazing a trail as a pioneer in direct mail…then as the ultimate archivist and lifelong student…and finally as a lecturer, author and blogger covering all the things we hold dear about this wonderful corner of the universe we call direct response marketing. 

He’s written many books, with titles such as 2,239 Tested Secrets of Direct Marketing Success, Write Everything Right!,  Method Marketing…and a host of novels, articles, newsletters…and even marketing checklists (one of which is yours for the clicking in the P.S. below). 

One of his landmark achievements was publishing a newsletter that came with the ultimate archive of direct mail promotions, in the form of envelopes, postcards, magalogs and bookalgos, in every category imaginable…and the archive expanded to email promotions after email marketing became a thing. 

This exhaustive and invaluable tool he created in the 1980’s was called Who’s Mailing What! (WMW!) 

Sure, there were selected swipe files available before this…but there was nothing like WMW! 

And dare I say nothing has rivaled it since.

WMW! enabled subscribers to not only see who was mailing what…but also who was mailing when…and who was mailing (what and when) most often. 

The theory: That’s how you chronicle promotions to learn which are the best promotions. 

Why would a mailer keep mailing a promotion if the promotion was a dud? 

In fact, WMW! had awards for the longest standing controls (i.e., long standing winning promotions) …and Denny knew every one of them…and created not only a collection like no other, but it was one he studied himself, and applied it to everything going on around him…for 50+ years. 

Put more simply: Denny’s love of his life, after his wife Peggy, is direct mail. 

And by extension, direct response marketing. 

Which shows up in everything he says and writes. 

Last September I invited Denny to speak at my Titans Mastermind to chronicle his incredible career and share how his research and curiosity with direct mail fit into the history and fabric of direct marketing. 

He didn’t disappoint. 

The title of Denny’s presentation:

A Whirlwind Tour of Direct Marketing Knowhow: From July 10, 1194 through the 21st Century 

Despite Denny being around the industry for a while, he was sure to let us know that he was not around in the 12th century…but wanted to be sure we knew that direct marketing didn’t start with Ben Franklin in the 18th century either. 

It was a whirlwind…and efficient too…with Denny covering 10 centuries of direct marketing in a little over 40 minutes. 

An insurmountable feat for any mere mortal…but not for this O.G. 🙂 

I thought it would be appropriate while I am hosting my Titans Mastermind event this week—creating more world class content which will be worth stealing smart from—and which I can share with you in the future—to share Denny’s presentation from the most recent Titans Mastermind last September. 

It is one for ages…literally. 

Just click on the screenshot below that reads, “The Most Successful Advertisement in the History of the World” …which Denny will tell you all about in this video (among other equally astounding facts and figures). 

And…how the more things change, the more they stay the same.   



P.S. To prove more conclusively that Denny is not simply a passive collector of every great promotion ever written or recorded, here is a monumental report he put together which he called his Ultimate 85-Point Marketer’s Checklist.

This is accumulated wisdom from a man who never passed up an opportunity to read all of his mail very carefully…and steal smart.

He applied everything he “stole” to a rule of thumb or a new way of looking at direct marketing.

Click here to access this wonderful (and useful) checklist.

It’s worth printing and keeping next to your desk…forever.

P.P.S. In Denny’s video presentation beginning with direct marketing from the 12th Century, he quotes a classic ad from John Caples (from earlier in the 20th century) …the famous “piano ad.”

Check out this YouTube video to learn more about it from Titans Xcelerator member and expert “breakdown artist” (of classic ads), Czaba Borzasi.

Jeremey Hunsicker, a Titans Mastermind member, sent me this cartoon he created to commemorate that Caples classic (which is still being emulated today):

Thought you might get a laugh out of it…

P.P.P.S And finally, a priceless picture of TWO O.G.’s, of “stealing smart” …which made them pioneers of marketing invention and innovation…with over a century of direct marketing wisdom between them:

Denny Hatch and Richard Viguerie
-Titans Mastermind, September 2021

P.P.P.P.S. Oops…one more thing…

There was a lively and meaningful discussion that followed Denny’s presentation last September…with all of the Titans who were present, including the two pictured above.

That video is currently locked away in the Titans Mastermind vault but I might just release it later this year…if I receive enough requests for it…from you. 🙂

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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