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Being Direct: Making Advertising Pay Paperback – March, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Lester Wunderman's Being Direct: Making Advertising Pay truly is both informative and entertaining. It combines an extraordinary personal history of "direct marketing" with a remarkably candid look at the field's most acclaimed practitioner. Written in an easy-going and deliberately persuasive style obviously honed during Wunderman's six decades in the trenches, the book shows his skill developing and gaining acceptance as he creates revolutionary advertising programs for future corporate stalwarts like the Columbia Record Club and American Express. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Born in a Bronx tenement, Wunderman started his own advertising agency with his older brother in 1939, at the age of 19. It went under two years later. With a never-say-die attitude, he learned the ropes, and by 1959, Wunderman, Ricotta & Kline (WRK), which he had founded a year earlier, was the world's largest agency specializing in mail-order advertising. A collector of African art, conversant with Spinoza and Marshall McLuhan, Wunderman credits his 1972 meeting with the chief of Mali's Dogon tribe as the key to his understanding of kinship and power-sharing-insights that led him to merge WRK (now Wunderman Cato Johnson, which he chairs) with a larger general agency, Young & Rubicam. Highly skimpy on personal detail, this career-oriented autobiography is a seasoned pro's detailed casebook of direct-marketing hits and misses. Wunderman's campaigns helped launch the American Express card, boosted Time Inc.'s magazine division circulation, devised interactive media to sell Lincoln Continentals and made the zip code an accepted part of the postal system. His account of these and other legendary feats is high-energy. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Adams Media Corp (March 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558508341
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558508347
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,450,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is interesting particularly for the evolution of direct marketing that Wunderman describes--and to a large degree, instigated. Readers will notice a tendency for Wunderman to toot his own horn, but don't worry; it doesn't ever become obnoxious.
The book would be good as a general guide as to what works and what doesn't--and why--in direct marketing. If a company is looking at direct marketing as a possible direction, this would be a good place to start to get an idea of what is involved, and what it takes to be successful. It may or may not help the reader that Wunderman describes using his techniques in marketing both goods (flowers) and services (credit cards).
In the end, you get more history from it than hard, specific tips. A very good read, but don't expect it to be "100 tips to direct marketing success". The hints are there, but you'll need to dig them out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By 61823082@at.ibm.com on March 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As a Direct Marketeer I was really impressed by Wunderman's clear, sophisticated, simple book that is REALLY about direct selling ! For a Direct Marketing "freshmen" it helps to think about what you should think about. And for profis it is a treasure of Direct Marketing strategies that allready worked.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By warren@laserpage.com on February 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
What a story! Wunderman invented so many of the marketing techniques we take for granted. Now he shares the inside story on how it did it. An inspiring trip through some of the greatest marketing ever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Jensen on July 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Wunderman provides a glimpse into a long and prosperous career in the direct advertising industry. Emphasizing the journey and the road to discovery rather than the actual destination, this book outlines how and when key direct marketing concepts were created, where he employed them, and the results which were achieved. I liked this book but it did take me some time to plow through it. I struggled to remain focused through parts of the book but, overall, it was a pretty enjoyable read.
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Format: Hardcover
Since the book is over ten years old, I bought myself a used copy. It's terrific. I'm not sure the book is in print anymore but either way, the copy I bought was in such great shape that I don't even notice it's used.

One of the surprising things about this book is that it's written without much of an ego. When Lester fails, he says so, when he does well, he attributes it to uncovering a direct marketing insight - not being chosen by the celestial gods and being struck by a lightening bolt. You can tell from reading that Lester Wunderman worked very hard, believed in himself and constantly searched for the unmet needs of customers. None of these disciplines go out of style.

The organization of information in this book is more like reading a biography than a marketing textbook yet the insights build upon each other and help you sharpen your understanding of direct marketing. It's an easy weekend read and a useful book for anyone in the marketing field, particularly those who may be looking to create more value for customers with their marketing efforts. I also encourage digital marketers to pick up this copy too because Wunderman's insights have many applications for today's CRM, SEM, SEO and web analytics practices.
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Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a book that will give you the top 10 list of how to make your advertising pay, then this is not the book for you. Mr. Wunderman's memoir is a look back on a life-time spent coming up with creative direct marketing solutions to business problems.

My key takeaways from this book are to understand that the way to achieve truly impressive breakthroughs is not to resort to tried and true formulas. The formulas will get you incremental improvement at best.

For example Wunderman discusses how he sponsored a Chicago radio show of a prominent minister to target those in need of hearing aids. In another section he is challenged to develop a million leads for a rose grower who typically received 150,000 new prospects a year.

In both cases, Wunderman hits it out of the park.

The key insight to enjoying the book is to listen to Wunderman's repsonse to legendary copywriter Maxwell Sackheim's question, "What is it that you do?" Wunderman's answer, "I get clients and help them with their marketing problems."

Wunderman is a troubleshooter, and his toolset is direct marketing.

Cheers!
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