Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter:
Resources, ideas, and tips for improving response to
business-to-business, high-tech, and direct marketing.
September 1, 2011
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***Have your Internet results sucked lately?***
According to consultant Wendy Montes de Oca, Internet marketing
results are depressed from June through August. This may explain
why your click-through and conversion rates have sunk lately, if
such is the case. Action step: promote your best-selling
products heavily after Labor Day. But don’t over-promote; at
least 50% of your e-mails should be content rather than sales
***Upcoming speaking engagement***
I will be speaking on “12 Ways to Succeed as a Freelance
Copywriter in 2012” at the AWAI Boot Camp in Delray Beach, FL,
10/26-10/29/11. Among the other speakers: Michael Masterson,
Nick Usborne, Steve Slaunwhite, Dan Kennedy, Brian Clark, Joe
Sugarman, and John Forde to name just a few.
For more information or to register, click below now:
***My pet peeve***
If you are an author, don’t send me a copy of your book
unsolicited in the mail. Ask me for permission first! My office
is overflowing with business books authors have sent me – books
I will never have time to read but hate to throw out, thereby
resulting in annoying clutter. (You should see the place!) One
author sent me 2 copies of his book after I asked him not to.
If I agree to review your book and it is an e-book, don’t e-mail
me a PDF; send me a hard copy print-out in the mail. I don’t
want to consume my paper and ink printing out your book.
***Don’t pat yourself on the back***
I recently got an e-mail promotion from a colleague who is a
successful copywriter. In it, he refers to himself as a “legend,”
which I found self-serving and a turn-off.
My rule of thumb: if others call you a genius, there’s a chance
you may be. But if you call yourself a genius, then you probably
aren’t. Solution: get a client, colleague, or someone known in
your industry to give you a flattering testimonial. (My first
one came from David Ogilvy.)
***New 2012 Bob Bly calendar now available***
Unlike Ali Brown, I don’t have a magazine about me; I’m not in
But now Adams Media has published “The Words You Should Know to
Sound Smart 2012 Daily Calendar” – which features a different
mind-expanding vocabulary word for each day of the year and is
based on my book of the same title.
Mastering this daily listing of deliciously obscure and obtuse
terms will have you tossing about bon mots with the best of the
portentous artistes and aesthetes … and impressing the
susurration out of the perfervid hoi polloi – in no time.
For more information or to order the calendar at 15% off the
list price, click here now:
***Your publishing options at a glance***
There are 3 basic options for publishing a book:
1—Self-publish it as an e-book.
2—Self-publish it as a physical book.
3—Sell it to a mainstream publisher (e.g., John Wiley & Sons).
I am frequently asked which publishing option is best. My answer
is always the same:
>> #1 has the highest margin and profit potential. Choose it if
your primary goal is to make money with your book.
>> #3 has the most prestige. Choose it if you want to use the
book to promote your career or business.
>> #2 has some prestige but not as much as #3, and has better
margins than #3 but less than #1. It’s a good choice for
professional speakers who need a book to promote themselves to
meeting planners and have a product to sell at their talks.
***Why I can’t look at your web site***
I am frequently asked via e-mail by my readers if I can “take a
quick look” at their web site and give my opinion.
But I can’t, for 3 reasons:
1—It falls under the category of marketing consulting, which is
what I do for a living. Why do you think I should give you my
services for free?
2—It takes time, which I have in extremely limited supply and
must reserve for my paying clients.
3—Even if you wanted to pay me, I am so booked up that the
chances I could review your web site any time soon are close to
Not trying to be mean here – just realistic.
BTW, if you asked me to review your web site, wouldn’t it have
been decent of you to at least suggest you were willing to pay
***Which mailing format is best?***
One of the most common questions my copywriting clients ask me
when doing direct mail is which format is best – a postcard,
self-mailer, or sales letter?
Here are some guidelines to help you answer that question:
>> When in doubt, go for a sales letter with reply element in a
#10 envelope … still the most powerful and proven format.
>> Self-mailers work well when your product is visual (e.g.,
selling vacation cruises, Christmas lights) and you want the
prospect to see pictures right away.
>> Postcards work best when driving response to a web site URL
or toll-free phone number.
>> Letters in envelopes work best when selling professional or
technical services, and with promotions that have an emotional
appeal or a story to tell (e.g., life insurance).
***How to capture e-mail addresses of your web site visitors***
Another question I’m asked frequently by prospects and clients
is, “How can I make my web site convert?” By this, they often
mean “How can I capture the e-mail addresses of people who visit
There are several methods, but the simplest is to offer free
content in exchange for the e-mail address.
For instance, create a valuable special report or online tool.
Have a prominent button on the home page that says “Free Report”
or “Free ROI Calculator” (or whatever the name of the tool is).
When they click on the button, they are taken to a simple form.
They are required to enter their name and e-mail address and
click Submit, and then they are taken to the content which they
can download or use. By doing so, they have opted into your
list, and you have captured their e-mail address with permission
to mail to it.
***Using press releases to optimize your site for search engines***
In the good old days, press releases were exclusively mailed to
editors and journalists. Consumers never saw them unless they
were printed in the newspaper or magazine.
Not today. Now, press releases are routinely posted on the web
site of the company issuing the releases. Therefore, press
releases can be used in search engine optimization: simply
include your keywords in the headline and body of the release.
This doesn’t matter offline, but it does online.
***Generate more inquiries from fractional display ads***
Running a half-page or smaller display ad in a magazine? Put a
dashed border around the entire ad. It resembles a coupon,
visually signaling to the reader that it’s a response ad.
Other tricks to increase print ad response:
–Show a picture of the free white paper or brochure you are
–Use the word “free” in the ad headline or a subhead.
–Run the ad on a right-hand page in the publication.
For more tips on boosting leads and sales from your print
advertising, read my e-book “Ads That Sell.” Click here for
***Book of the month***
Everybody tells you to market with articles, but nobody tells
you how to do it effectively.
Now my colleague Wendy Montes de Oca shares her proven 5-step
SONAR model for article marketing in her new book “Content is
Cash,” published by John Wiley & Sons. By following her model
you get higher search engine rankings and more web traffic
instead of just churning out an endless pile of articles that go
nowhere and do nothing.
For more information or to order, click below now:
***Quotation of the month***
“Forget about who you thought you were and just accept who you
are.” –Liv Tyler, “Jersey Girl”
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***Our 60-second commercial***
Bob Bly 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 us know your industry and the type of
copy you’re interested in seeing (ads, mailings, etc.) and if
Bob is available to take on your assignment, we’ll tailor a
package of recent samples to fit your requirements. Call Bob Bly
at 201-505-9451 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.