I’ve just returned from Chicago and our annual Info-SUMMIT event.
Chicago, the city itself, is rich in instructive stories and actionable history.
An example, American football halfback for the University of Illinois and the Chicago Bears, Harold “Red” Grange (June 13, 1903 –January 28, 1991). Nicknamed “The Galloping Ghost,” Grange is credited with legitimizing the value of “pay for play” as well as boosting the National Football League and helping it succeed and grow to a new level.
People packed stadiums to watch “The Galloping Ghost” when he played for the University of Illinois catching the attention of owner-coach and player for the Chicago Bears, George Halas. Halas signed him hoping that Grange’s crowd-pleasing antics and statistics would attract the same large crowds of paying customers to Bears’ games.
During a time when typical salaries for professional players were less than $100 per game, Halas inked a contract with Grange agreeing to a 19-game tour with a salary and share of gate receipts that amounted to $100,000.
Days after his collegiate career ended, on Thanksgiving Day in 1925, Grange suited up to play in his debut game for the Chicago Bears against the Chicago Cardinals at Cubs Park (now Wrigley Field.) Ticket sales that day climbed to 36,000. Over the next several months “The Galloping Ghost” attracted more than 400,000 spectators giving rise to “pay for play” professional sports.
In every field, in everything we do—there is “gold in the old.” There is always someone who was the first, someone who holds the record for doing it the longest, the best, and the biggest. To see how things evolved, especially if you aren’t where you want to be with your business or career, is extremely valuable.
For instance, in marketing, many “old models” and “old media” still work great today. (Tweet this!) You can trace entire companies back to one successful marketing campaign that launched them and/or ran for years generating millions of leads and millions of dollars.
Ignorance of history deprives you of the best available guide for what works and what doesn’t. Without reasonably accurate examples or knowledge of the past, you simply cannot expect to create the most favorable and desired results.
In fact, without seeing how others responded to old offers, headlines, guarantees, products, etc., it is impossible to predict how people will respond to new marketing, product and service offers. Under such absence, frustration, failure and unwelcome response is sure to rear its ugly head.
In marketing, swipe files (a collection of tested and proven advertising and sales letters used for reference) are a great way to build a whole library of ideas to use in your own promotions. But more than that, reading what worked in the past and studying the history of direct mail is perhaps one of the best ways to shortcut to direct-mail mastery. You’ll be surprised at how many patterns repeat when studying promotions of the past.
There’s something else you should be doing with the material in your swipe file. As a marketer…especially if you are writing your own copy, you should be reading at least one successful direct-mail promotion every week. In fact, if each one that you read is a ground-breaking promotion, like the kind featured in my Lifetime of Work Deluxe Archives Collection, all the better.
There is “gold in the old.” Just look what “The Galloping Ghost” did for professional players’ salaries (and the jobs and income generated for stadiums and team owners.) Not to mention the model for tying results to pay. Studying the best will help you get to success all that much quicker. If you aren’t studying what’s worked in the past, you should start pronto.
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