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Best word length for ad headlines

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Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter:
Resources, ideas, and tips for improving response to
business-to-business, high-tech, Internet, and direct marketing.

October 6, 2014


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***Hear me talk about content marketing tomorrow night***

Tomorrow night I will be giving a talk in NJ on how writing great
copy can turn your next content marketing campaign from ho-hum
into a home run. Click here for details:


***What word length is best for headlines?***

How many words in a headline? In headline tests conducted with
cooperation from a big department store, it was found that
headlines of 10 words or longer sold more goods than short
headlines. In terms of recall, headlines between 8 and 10 words
are most effective.

In mail order advertising, headlines between 6 and 12 words get
the most orders. On the average, long headlines sell more
merchandise than short ones.

Your headline should telegraph what you want to say — in simple
language. Readers do not stop to decipher the meanings of
obscure headlines.

Source: David Ogilvy, “Writing Ads That Sell,” The Copywriter’s
Roundtable, 4/14/14.


***3 steps to more persuasive writing***

According to top copywriters Mark Ford and Will Newman, you can
make your writing more persuasive when you follow these 3 simple

1–Begin with an emotionally compelling idea … one that
simultaneously feels both correct and insightful.

2–Express it clearly … if the reader cannot understand your
idea, he won’t believe it.

3–Be specific … state, demonstrate, and prove your compelling
idea with specific details.

This formula is so powerful and accurate, I believe virtually
all A-level copy follows it.

Source: “Persuasion: The Subtle Art of Getting What You Want,”
AWAI, 2014.


***5 “don’ts” for presenters***

The popular online lecture series TED offers these 5 common
speaking mistakes that you should avoid:

–Don’t use lots of unexplained technical jargon to make
yourself sound smart.

–Don’t refer to your book repeatedly.

–Don’t let everyone know how important you are.

–Don’t recite your talk from memory or sound as if you are.

–Don’t cram your slides with numerous text bullet points in
multiple fonts.

Source: Chris Anderson, “How to Give a Killer Presentation,”
Harvard Business Review, 6/13, p. 6.


***The secret to winning arguments: stop arguing***

There’s an old saying that’s very true: if you win the argument
you lose the sale. Yes, you feel passionately about your product
or service, and your potential customer has said something
completely ridiculous.

But, warns superstar entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal, it doesn’t
serve any useful purpose to get into an argument about it.
“Sometimes, I have to bite my tongue,” he says. “But, I never
lose my cool. I try to educate, I remain calm and never argue or
become controversial. Keep it light. Another approach is to move
on to discuss an area where you can agree on something.”

Source, Early to Rise, 4/17/14.


***5 great tips for handling customer complaints***

>> Provide FAQs: half of customer complaints are from confusion
and not an actual problem.

>> Listen to what the customer wants and not what you think they
should want.

>> Get your team working together: 80% of complaints are because
the original request was not dealt with adequately.

>> Fix the source: assign one person to uncover the root cause
of a common complaint.

>> Notify the customer when the problem has been resolved.

Source: QSCC, 4/15/14.


***Market yourself with article writing***

One effective and inexpensive way to get traffic and visibility
is to write articles for other people’s web sites.

Many web sites operate on a limited budget and appreciate
articles written by experts. You can offer to swap articles for
consideration. Many sites that accept articles will feature
“Submission Guidelines” somewhere within the site. If you can’t
locate guidelines, contact the site owner or editor and ask if
he or she is interested in reviewing your article for possible

There are also numerous content sites that allow you to post
articles that others can reprint on their web sites and in their
newsletters. This is a great opportunity to showcase your
business. Following are some of my favorite article content

A word of caution about article marketing: Ideally, you should
limit the number of times the same article appears online. If
it’s picked up by multiple websites, Google will not display all
instances of the article. For best results, modify parts of the
article and title when distributing to various websites.
Regardless, you will still gain great exposure by distributing
content when it is picked up across many sites.

Source: Stephanie Chandler, “Own Your Niche,” Authority


***Freelance copywriting: how many revisions should you make?***

Freelance copywriter Rich Armstrong has a policy for handling
client revisions which he got from John Nicksic. Richard
explains, “On the first draft, I give the client the copy he
needs. On the second draft, I give the client the copy he wants.
On the third draft, I give the client the copy he deserves.”


***Have a call to action in your “call to action”***

The call to action (CTA) is arguably the most important part of
your web page. Yet a shocking number of sites play hide-and-seek
with their call-to-action buttons, making them “blend in” with
the color scheme of the page or burying them so far down on the
page that the likelihood of a visitor scrolling that far is nil.

You can increase CTA response with copy that specifies what the
call to action is; e.g. Amazon gives visitors the option to “Add
to Cart” or “Add to Wishlist.” Good CTA copy has the instruction
(click here, download now), a description of the offer (free
report, free demo), and a benefit. For example, the main call to
action might say, “Download your FREE Selection Guide to saving
money now.”

Source: Tim Ash, Clickz, 4/15/14.


***Avoid clients who make you work hard to get them to hire you***

A warning sign that perhaps you should not take on a client is
when you have to work really hard to win the job. They make you
jump through all sorts of hoops. You have endless meetings. At
the end of all this, you are rewarded with a tiny job. Was it
really worth all that hard work for such a small paycheck?

Source: Matthew Parker, Printing Impressions, 3/14, p. 14.


***Quotations of the month***

“It’s a sad comment that because of the constant bombardment of
all things new, many have lost the ability to appreciate the
value of what is timeless.” –Penny Zibula

“People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want
their illusions destroyed.” –Frederick Nietzsche

“I try to deal with people the way that I would wish them to
deal with me and that means very often being blunt. Most people
don’t like when you tell the truth, because they don’t really
want to hear it.” –Harlan Ellison


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Bob Bly
Copywriter / Consultant
31 Cheyenne Dr.
Montville, NJ 07045
Phone 973-263-0562
Fax 973-263-0613

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