Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter:
Resources, ideas, and tips for improving response to
business-to-business, high-tech, Internet, and direct
November 3, 2016
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***Force yourself to start your writing project***
How? Simple. “Put your rear in the chair and write,” says
Professor Kenna Griffin.
The only way to overcome procrastination is to force
yourself to do the writing. You can always fix it afterward, but
you can’t edit a page of nothing.
“Usually you’re pleasantly surprised when you discover that what
you wrote isn’t nearly as bad as you thought, and the process of
having written it did not, in fact, kill you,” says Griffin. “Even if
what you wrote is crap, you can fix it. You’ve written. That’s
Source: PR Daily News Feed, 4/25/2016.
***How to steal customers from your competitors***
Visit competitors’ websites and check out their previous
customers. An easy way to tell who is buying the services you
offer is to check out the companies your competitors are doing
Many businesses will include a list of their most prominent
customers right on their website; sometimes they’ll even include
a testimonial with the name and title of the person they worked
You can contact the person listed on the site directly. This
might be a dead end if they are satisfied with their current
provider. But you never know. Competitors’ testimonials can also
inspire you to market your offering to markets you might never
have thought about targeting.
Source: YesData, 4/26/2016.
***Avoid PowerPoint “slide overload”***
The biggest mistake in PowerPoint presentations is putting too
much information on your slides. Solution: Avoid text, data, and
graphics that don’t clearly relate to your ideas.
Don’t bombard your audience with statistics and numbers that
dilute rather than strengthen your main points. Always make sure
that everything aids and does not distract from audience
Not only is clutter an issue with text, data, and graphics; it
works the same with ideas. If viewers have to spend time breaking
down and wading through multiple ideas, your visual misses its
target. One concept per slide allows the viewer to concentrate
and give his full attention.
Source: Booher Consultants, Communication Tip, 4/27/2016.
***One way to gain competitive advantage in your writing niche***
There are multiple ways to break into a specialized writing
niche, but the strongest, IMHO, is to have professional
experience or education in the topic. At the start of my
copywriting career in the late 1970s, my chemical engineering
degree gave me a huge advantage in my niche of industrial
Liz Alton, a freelance writer who successfully made the leap from
marketing writing into tech and finance content, says: “A
background in any field outside of writing is a huge asset
because it helps you move from ‘generic writer’ to subject matter
expert (SME) in the eyes of potential clients.” Her professional
background in business, garnered from previous full-time jobs,
helped her bridge the gap between genres when she was first
starting to transition between fields.
Source: ASJA Weekly, 4/29/2016.
***Add urgency to boost e-mail response rates***
Use words that invoke (some) anxiety. Think “hurry,” “now,” “go,”
and “final.” We’re programed to get stressed out when faced with
this sort of language; it tells us that we need to do a task
right away and that waiting around isn’t an option. And setting
apart each word with a period (e.g., Sale. Ends. Today.) amps up
the urgency even more.
Source: Emma E-Mail Marketing, 4/27/2016
***How to win customers and influence people***
The most effective way to influence people is to earn their
liking and respect, to appeal to the friendship factor. This
requires spending time with him, caring for him, and respecting
The more time you are willing to spend with the person, the
greater his tendency to trust you and to feel that you are
acting in his best interest.
Slow down when you first meet a person in a business or sales
situation. Take some time to build a relationship with him or her
before you proceed to business matters.
Appeal to the friendship factor that underlies all good business
and personal relationships. Ask questions about the person and
his or her life and concerns. Listen attentively to the answers.
Focus on the relationship first
Source: Brian Tracy’s Success Newsletter, 5/1/2016.
***Be straightforward and direct in your copy? Not always!***
We are taught in writing classes to be clear and direct. But as
Gary Hennerberg points out, the opposite approach — called
“misdirection” — can also work well in copywriting.
“Deliberate ambiguity can be a strategic copywriting tool,” says
Gary. “Use it for headlines and e-mail subject lines to stimulate
unresolved curiosity and the irresistible urge for the reader to
pause and want to learn more.”
But, be careful. There’s a fine line between drawing readers in
with ambiguous words creating unresolved curiosity, and repelling
them through simple vagueness or borderline deception.
Source: Today@TargetMarketing, 5/4/2016.
***Easy way to make your fiction stronger***
Want to make your fiction stronger? Give your main character a
Novelist Amina Gautier: “In many cases, omitting character
occupation comprises a missed opportunity for further character
development, plot construction, and inclusion of conflict. It
renders the character vague, the way failing to denote place in a
story makes it seem to occur nowhere.
“Occupation provides a foundation upon which a story can be built
as it calls for specificity and demands concrete details.
Determining what one’s character does for a living can help to
create a round character, a full and complex human.”
Source: Glimmer Train Bulletin 112.
***Book of the month***
Every direct marketer should read Bob Hacker’s book “Direct
Marketing Doesn’t Have to Make Sense, It Just Has to Make Money”
(Direct Marketing IQ, 2014). More than the usual collection of
rules and tips, the book delves into the various ways clients,
agencies, and graphic designers sabotage direct response
campaigns, turning them from potential winners into sure-fire
flops. And he tells you exactly what to do to prevent this:
***Quotation of the month***
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve
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