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Direct Mail

Gus Russell, an early contemporary of Charlie Patrick, was a bit of a character and one of the industry’s early innovators when it comes to marketing. About the time Patrick Co. was founded in 1915, Russell was the California rep for the Portland Lumber Co., a San Francisco-based wholesaling firm and one of Patrick Co.’s early customers. In 1916, Russell gained some notoriety (and a nice write-up in the Timberman magazine) for his use of direct mail to market silos to farmers in California.

“Gus made up his mind that the California farmers should use silos,” the Timberman reported, “The more he read about silos—bigger milk dividends, more prosperous communities as a result of the bigger milk check—the more he felt it was an important mandate to sell silos.

“He talked with Lloyd Wentworth about the idea… and the Simplex Silo Agency was secured…

“Gus learned the wily art of sending out a postal card to several thousand farmers on which he makes the farmer say, ‘If you show me how the Simplex Silo will make more money for me, I will listen, but remember, outside of that I make no promises. I have 1,000 dairy cows, more or less.’ Signed, Farmer Jones.

“The result of this subtle reminder has been a flood of inquiries.”