About Hugh Chewning

Direct Mail Copywriter, Strategist, and Consultant

Early Days

My first exposure to direct mail came shortly after graduating from college. At the time, I was working with a national nonprofit health organization.

Back then, we kept our mailing lists on Cheshire Cards. We ran these cards through a small, hand-cranked machine which pressed the recipient’s name onto the mailing envelope.

Once we received a donation, we manually searched for the donor’s card and hand printed the contribution amount and date. About the only “data processing” we could do was to sort the donor cards alphabetically and into different contribution categories – for example, under $25 and above $25.

This was more than a few years ago but the experience taught me that I loved direct mail. To learn more, I started reading books. From there, I hired a local company that used the mail to sell books to school teachers. At the time, they were my “experts” and I learned everything they could teach me.

Still, I wanted to learn more so I began sending resumes to direct mail agencies that advertised in our industry’s trade magazines.

This led me to The Viguerie Company (TVC), a leading direct mail agency in Falls Church, Virginia. At the time, and perhaps even now, this was the place to learn direct mail.

Agency Training

Today, many agencies are “stratified.” Each account has a “suit” who meets with the client while another team develops the account’s strategy. Someone else selects the mailing lists while others write the copy, coordinate production and analyze the tests. It’s rare to find one person on the account who has the full picture.

At TVC, we did things differently. One person had responsibility for the account. We did everything from developing a strategy, selecting the mailing lists, writing or directing the copy, managing the production and analyzing the tests. And, we had profit/loss responsibility.

This is how I learned direct mail. And because of it, I practice fundamentally sound, bottom-line-oriented, direct mail.

But after six years with TVC, I accepted the new position of General Manager at BFC Direct Marketing in Newport Beach, California. At the time, BFC was a small, independently owned direct mail agency that specialized in direct mail fundraising and ballot initiatives.

Two years later, I opened Chewning Direct Marketing (CDM) to provide direct mail strategy, consulting and copywriting for consumer, business-to-business and nonprofit organizations.

Here, I beat the controls for clients like:

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Greenpeace, Project HOPE, Help Hospitalized Veterans, Amnesty International, The American Legion, L. A. Mission, Mayo Clinic, Disabled American Veterans, The Nature Conservancy, Food For The Poor, Aames Home Loans, Days Inn Hotels, Holiday Inn Hotels, Ramada Business Card and the American Diabetes Association, EarthLink, Intuit, PC Online and Downey Savings & Loan.

My work has earned two Gold Echo Awards, an Echo Leader Award and Pioneer Award. You can find samples of my work in the publication, World’s Greatest Direct Mail Sales Letters (NTC Publishing Group) and on this Web site.

Recent Years and Today

Always ready for a new challenge, in 2005 I accepted the position of Director of Marketing for Downey Savings, a 175-branch, $15 Billion savings and loan headquartered in Newport Beach, California. Here, I drove all aspects of the Bank’s marketing activities including direct mail, print, Internet, email and in-branch promotions.

At Downey Savings we took our tagline of being the “Friendlier, Easier Place to Bank” seriously. Our employees were dedicated, talented and committed to giving our customers the best banking experience.

Yet one banking crisis later, and with more experience and knowledge of how to serve the financial industry, I’m back doing what I enjoy most – defining the client’s objective, gaining an understanding of their targeted audience and then persuading the prospects or customers to take the desired action.

My approach is simple. Give the client more than they expect, offer a fair price and treat people the way you want them to treat you. I’ve found that when you do this, everything else works out.

Free, No-Risk “Get Acquainted” Offer

Now, I encourage you to challenge me to increase your direct mail profits by taking advantage of my free, no-risk package critique. Just send me a sample of your direct mail package and, in return, I’ll give you my written observations and recommendations.

With my package evaluation and recommendations in hand, you can then decide for yourself whether it makes sense for us to work together. Again, there’s no cost or obligation. All I ask is that once you accept my ideas, you use me to develop the test packages.

You can reach me at 949-854-5401 (Pacific Time) or by e-mailing Hugh Chewning. Or, if it’s easier for you, just e-mail me a pdf file of your direct mail package along with your contact information and the best time for me to call.

I’ll review your mailing and follow up with any questions I need answered before providing my written recommendations.

Thanks. I’m looking forward to learning more about your project and seeing how we can work together to boost your direct mail results.

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Hugh C. Chewning

P.S. Send me a sample of your direct mail package today – along with a brief description of your objectives and your contact information – and, without cost or obligation, I’ll send you my written recommendations of how to get more from your direct mail dollars.