What I Learned About Direct Mail From Teaching School

In 1968 I moved to New Orleans.  A few months in, one of my magazine subscriptions (Evergreen Review … and if you remember that mag, it will give you some insight into who I was/am) had still not successfully changed addresses.  BUT, their billing department found me.

I was teaching English to eighth-graders, and we were studying letter-writing.  In a bit of foreshadowing of my future career, I struck upon a brilliant idea.  I told the kids about the magazine, how I wasn’t getting my magazine, but was getting the bills, and suggested that each of them might write a letter asking that my subscription be sent, pronto.

Guess what?  The kids were totally into writing the letters; they had the facts, and each composed his/her own letter.  They were very serious, making sure the letter looked right, had all the necessary parts, spelling was correct … all those things that don’t usually matter to 13-year-olds.

And, sure enough, the campaign worked!  I got a great letter from the subscription department, commending my students, and telling us how impressed they were at receiving 150 letters.  My magazines started arriving and I learned direct mail works.

Dinah O’Berry

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