Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter:
Resources, ideas, and tips for improving response to
business-to-business, high-tech, and direct marketing.
You are getting this e-mail because you subscribed to it on
www.bly.com or because you are one of Bob’s clients, prospects,
seminar attendees, or book buyers. If you would prefer not to
receive further e-mails of this type, go to the bottom of this
message and click on “SafeUnsubscribe.”
Your subscription brings you one regular monthly issue, usually
at the beginning of the month, plus one or two supplementary
messages each week. These are typically either free tips or
personal recommendations for information products on marketing or
related topics. I review products before recommending them and in
many cases know the authors.
We do not rent or share your name with anybody. Feel free to
forward this issue to any peers, friends and associates you think
would benefit from its contents. They will thank you. So will I.
***Be a better networker***
1–As soon as possible after meeting new contacts, jot down notes
on the back of their business card. Your notes should include
memory joggers (mustache, red hair), reminders of where you met,
what you discussed, and things you have in common.
2—The next day, transfer their details and your notes into your
contact management system.
3—Follow up. Send a short note or e-mail to strengthen the
initial contact. Note: unless sales information was specifically
requested, your first follow-up should not be marketing oriented.
***How FedEx got started***
Michael Basch, Co-founder, Federal Express, tells the following
When Federal Express first went into business, we could not get
RCA to use our services, despite the fact we had opened one of
our first offices near their plant in Wilmington, Indiana.
Then late one Friday afternoon, Diane, our clerk, got a call from
a woman in Wilmington.
“I don’t know who Federal Express is,” the woman said. “I’ve
never heard of you. All I know is that my wedding dress was
supposed to be here today. It’s 3:30 in the afternoon and I’m
about to panic — I’m getting married tomorrow. Can you help me?”
No manager was around Diane could ask for advice. So on her own,
she chartered an airplane and pilot for $300 to fly the package
to Wilmington. It arrived that night.
Some of the key RCA executives were at the wedding and heard
about the outrageous package airline that chartered an airplane
for a wedding dress. Two weeks later, FedEx got its first order
for 20 packages from RCA.
Dozens of my readers are complaining to me of declining response
rates, a downturn in business, and the weak economy. “Our web
site isn’t converting like it used to,” they complain. “What can
I do?” Here’s what I have found works:
1. Take massive action. Figure out what you think you need to do
to generate the level of leads and orders you need. Then do twice
2. Don’t rely on only one promotional vehicle, like direct mail
or cold calling. Do three, four, even five things: send out
mailings; advertise; regularly e-mail your list; write an
article; give a speech.
3. Make every communication a direct marketing communication.
Offer a premium with a high perceived value. Stress your free
offer in your promotion.
4. Test different offers, ideas, copy, formats, and media to see
which work best. Roll out with those promotions that work.
Scratch the others. If they don’t do well in a small test,
mailing more won’t help.
***Should you mail the same piece twice?***
Your mailing does well. Really well. Should you mail the same
piece again? And when?
Rule of thumb: Sending the exact same piece to the same list
approximately 8 to 10 weeks after the initial mailing usually
generates 40% to 60% of the original response.
How to make the decision: Say you need a 1% response to be
profitable. Your initial mailing generates 4%. Half of that would
be 2% — double the response you need. So yes, you can safely
mail the same piece again.
***Generate more leads with a bait piece***
Never do a lead-generating promotion – ad, banner ad, e-mail,
direct mail – without a “bait piece.”
The “bait piece” is an informative booklet, white paper, or
special report addressing some aspect of the problem your product
or service helps the reader solve.
Example: Fala Direct Marketing, a letter shop specializing in
producing personalized direct mailings, offered a free booklet,
“Should I Personalize?” It helps clients decide whether and how
to personalize their mailings.
You will greatly increase response to your direct mail and other
promotions with the offer of a strong bait piece, e.g., “Call or
write us today for a copy of our FREE booklet, ‘7 Ways to Reduce
Conversely, not having a bait piece will significantly lower the
response rate to lead-generating direct response promotions,
whether business or consumer.
***Getting feedback on your sales pitch***
After making your sales presentation, pause, and ask the
prospect: “How does that sound—good, bad, or terrible?”
If the prospect answers “good,” you can proceed to the next step
in the sales cycle. If the prospect answers “bad” or “terrible,”
ask her what she doesn’t like. Then address these concerns so you
can move the sale forward.
Source: Studebaker-Worthington Leasing Corp.
***The keys to persuasion***
If you want to persuade people to believe something, do
something, or buy something, you must rely on three factors,
according to Herb Cohen:
1. They have to understand what you’re saying. It’s imperative
that you put your reasons into analogies that relate to their
experiences, their particular imprinting. In order to do this,
you must enter their world. (That’s why it’s so hard for you to
negotiate with someone who’s stupid or who you think is a
2. Your evidence must be so overwhelming that they can’t dispute
3. Their believing you must meet their existing needs and
Of these three factors, the third is by far the most important.
Why? “Even if you present me with overwhelming evidence I
understand, should the conclusion depress me, I will remain
unconvinced,” says Cohen. “Your facts and logic may be
unassailable but their acceptance will not meet my existing needs
If you want to persuade people, show the immediate relevance and
value of what you’re saying in terms of meeting their needs and
Source: Herb Cohen, You Can Negotiate Anything, Carol Publishing
***Add a Johnson box to your sales letters***
Sixty years ago, Frank H. Johnson was looking for a way to
increase the impact of his sales letters.
Johnson decided that instead of forcing readers to wade through a
mass of copy before making the offer, he would highlight the
offer in a centered rectangular box placed at the very top of the
letter above the salutation. The results were terrific, and the
“Johnson Box” has been going strong ever since.
Copywriter Ivan Levison shares some tips you can use for putting
a Johnson Box to work the right way:
1. Put the right content in the box. What should you include
there? The offer. The main product benefit.
2. Use it in the right kind of letter. If you’re writing a
non-personalized letter that’s going out bulk rate in a window
envelope using teaser copy, a Johnson Box will fit right in.
3. Make it the right size. If you’re mailing an 8 1/2″ x 11″
letter (folded twice down to 3 5/8″) you want the Johnson Box and
the salutation line to appear above the fold.
4. Use an appropriate box shape made from a fine-ruled line. For
added impact, throw a screened-back second color inside the box.
5. Use a box in the body of the letter. There’s no law that says
you can’t throw your guarantee into a small box somewhere within
the letter. Or a few testimonials. Or a short excerpt from a
glowing product review.
6. Show your fulfillment piece in a box or at the top of your
letter. If you’re offering a report, guide, White Paper,
Executive Summary, whatever, use a picture of it.
Source: “The Levison Letter.” For a free subscription to this
valuable e-zine, click on the link below:
***Reprint my articles – free!***
Media, bloggers, marketers, editors, publishers, Web masters —
need powerful content on your Web site or blog? You can syndicate
or republish any of the articles you’ve read in Bob Bly Direct
Response Letter — for free! To view complete articles, visit our
newsletter archives at www.bly.com/archive. Republishing our
articles is quick and easy. All you have to do is include author
attribution (byline/name of author) and the following statement,
“This article appears courtesy of Bob Bly Direct Response Letter,”
and include a back-link to www.bly.com. That’s it!
***60-second commercial from Fern Dickey, Project Manager***
Bob is available on a limited basis for copywriting of direct
mail packages, sales letters, brochures, white papers, ads,
e-mail marketing campaigns, PR materials, and Web pages. We
recommend you call for a FREE copy of our updated Copywriting
Information Kit. Just let me know your industry and the type of
copy you’re interested in seeing (ads, mailings, etc.) and if Bob
is available to take your assignment, we’ll tailor a package of
recent samples to fit your requirements. Call Fern Dickey at
201-797-8105 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.