Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter:
Resources, ideas, and tips for improving
response to business-to-business, high-tech,
industrial, Internet, and direct marketing.
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MAY I FEATURE YOU IN MY NEXT BOOK?
For a new book I am writing, I’m interested
in hearing about successful marketing campaigns
that involve giving away a free information
premium such as a free white paper, CD-ROM,
booklet, newsletter, e-zine, or special report.
I’d like to see the promotion that generated
the lead, the PDF of the white paper or other
freebie you gave away, and the results,
If I use your material, you will receive
full credit, of course. You can e-mail
me at firstname.lastname@example.org
GIVE YOUR WRITING THE “BREATH TEST”
Short sentences are easier to read than
long sentences. But how long is too long
for a sentence?
To determine maximum sentence length, use
the “breath test.” Without taking in a gulp
of air, and just with the amount of air
you ordinarily have in your lungs, read the
sentence aloud at a normal conversational
speed and volume.
If you run out of breath before you get
to the end, the sentence is too long.
Solution: Break it into two sentences at
the point where a new idea is introduced.
DOES “SUPERMARKET PRICING” REALLY WORK?
Are consumers really “fooled” into thinking
that a $9.99 price is cheaper than a $10? Price?
Apparently so: In her new Pricing Psychology
Report, pricing expert Marlene Jensen says that
a $9.99 price will probably pull 10%
to 20% more buyers than a $10 price.
Why? Certainly not because of the one cent
difference. The report states: “There is
a learned pattern response in our brains that
makes us see $9.99 as much lower than $10.
And it persists, even though most of us
know this trick.”
To order Marlene’s report (which I highly recommend)
WHAT TO TEST IN E-MAIL MARKETING
According to an article in The Marketing Report
(10/27/03, Page 8), the top 5 things to test
in e-mail marketing are:
1. The landing page.
2. The subject line.
3. HTML vs. text.
4. Personalization with name vs. non-personalized.
5. Long vs. short copy.
In my experience, you get the quickest return
for the least effort with a subject line test.
I have personally seen A/B splits where
one subject line outpulled another by more
than 50% as measured in click-throughs.
HTML can outpull text by 20% or even more.
But in some cases, there is no lift in response.
I have never seen HTML depress response,
though I would guess that it is possible.
HOW TO BE FUNNIER
The best advice I ever got for making jokes
work better, whether I’m giving a speech or
participating in a meeting, comes from my
friend Fran Capo: “Specifics are funnier
For instance, instead of saying “He spits
like a baseball player,” say “He spits like
a Major League baseball player.” Instead of saying
“He polishes his head with car wax,”
say “He polishes his head with Turtle Wax.”
I don’t know why, but the joke is always sharper
and funnier when you use specifics.
Source: “The Humor Approach: A Guide to Humor
in Business Speaking,” by Fran Capo,
IS USING COUPONS IN PRINT ADS OBSOLETE?
SHOULD YOU USE YOUR URL INSTEAD?
Subscriber Roscoe Barnes writes:
“Seems to me that fewer ads carry coupons
these days. Are coupons still effective
in this age of Internet technology?”
Roscoe, you are right: coupons in ads
have fallen out of fashion. But even though
we live in an age of the Internet and
800 numbers, using a coupon in an ad
still increases response, for two reasons.
First, it gives the reader yet another
(in addition to the Web and phone) reply
Second, and most important, it sends a visual
signal to the reader that says: “Hey, Bunky,
this isn’t a Madison Avenue image ad; this
is one of those direct response ads where
you get something really good when you
reply ? so reply!”
Roscoe also asks, “Will the mention of
a Web site in the ad depress response?
It seems that if the ad was designed
to generate leads through phone calls,
the inclusion of the web address would
result in fewer calls. I’m hoping you
can shed light on this topic.”
If you simply include the URL of your Web
site that links to the home page, that will
depress response. Better: Include a URL
that goes to a specific landing page where
the reader can request more information,
a demo, a free trial, or whatever it is
your offering. Doing so will increase
DO YOU WANT TO PUBLISH AN E-ZINE LIKE THIS ONE?
If so, I recommend you read Deb Weil’s new e-book:
“Inside Secrets to Profitable E-Zine Publishing.”
Deb and I don’t always see eye to eye (she’s
a fan of HTML e-zines, while I think text is
often a better choice). But overall, her
new book is the best guide I’ve ever seen
on how to research, write, and publish an
e-zine people will open, value, read, and
even look forward to!
For more information visit:
SEASONS GREETINGS ? ONE MONTH EARLY!
This is the last issue of Direct Response
Letter for 2003. See you in 2004 and in
the meantime, happy holidays!
RECENT COPYWRITING PROJECTS (JUST A SAMPLING)
Direct mail package for Boardroom … direct mail
and e-mail for Harvard Business School
Publishing … direct mail for Kiplinger …
e-mail for Forbes … direct mail for Global
Health Solutions … direct mail for Uptick Media
and Fleming Financial … direct mail for EPM
Communications … articles for Edith Roman Associates …
e-mail for The Motley Fool … landing page for
First-Class Flyer … brochures for Misys …
direct mail for SurfControl software …
60-SECOND COMMERCIAL FROM FERN DICKEY, OFFICE MANAGER:
Bob is available on a limited basis, starting
in 2004, 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 your
assignment, we’ll tailor a package of recent
samples to fit your requirements. Call Fern
Dickey at 201-797-8105 or e-mail
22 E. Quackenbush Ave.
Dumont, NJ 07628