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Archive for November, 2004

2 Weeks in the Blogosphere

November 30th, 2004 by Bob Bly

While I am a rank novice in blogging, I have formed a few initial impressions.

I?d like to share them with you now, and pray these don?t get me into more hot water in the blogosphere:

1. For a solo practitioner (freelance copywriter) like me, my time is the only thing I have to sell.

Therefore, I am concerned that, since for me time equals money, my blogging is costing me a lot of money ? with no visible ROI other than fun.

2. Bloggers ? both those who have blogs and write the journal entries, as well as those who read blogs and write the posts ? seem to have much more free time than I do ? or more energy (probably the latter, though I work a 60+ hour week).

I am amazed at the detailed posts some of you guys make, or that you go look at, read, and respond to blogs so often.

3. I am beginning to suspect that the blogosphere, or at least the marketing segment of it, is much smaller than I originally imagined.

There seems to be active blogging from a small core of hardcore marketing bloggers ? about two dozen individuals.

4. In marketing and small business blogs, those who read and post to them seem to be individuals or other small businesses.

It doesn?t seem to me that the big players ? e.g., marketing directors of Fortune 1000 companies ? are active bloggers.

5. Some of you guys love to argue and are, by your own admission, contentious. On the posts on this blog, both Rick Bruner and Paul W. attribute to me statements I never made, and pick fights that no one else has started.

Am I accurate here? Or way off base?


Category: Blogging | 260 Comments »

The Death of Branding Online?

November 24th, 2004 by Bob Bly

I know a lot of the brightest marketing minds in the world, and Don Libey is certainly one of the top five, in my humble opinion.

So, not being a big branding guy myself, I enjoyed the latest issue of Don?s ?Secrets of the Catalog Master? bulletin, published by list broker Merit Direct.

In it, he basically says that branding is dead or dying on the Internet, being replaced by (what else?) ROI-producing direct marketing ? driven by Google.

Don says, ?Buying is no longer a matter of who [the brand or reputation of the seller] ? Shopping is a matter of word description. In other words, I will no longer associate buying pears with Harry & David.

?Instead, I will associate buying pears with the words ?pear? or ?fruit? or ?gourmet pears? or any of 58 other words or word combinations.?

He also credits E-bay with diminishing the important of online merchant reputation — as millions of people are sending money to other people they?ve never heard of and have no reason to trust simply because these sellers have a five-star rating on E-bay.

Don calls this kind of buying ?thought-activated word shopping? and says it is replacing branding in importance for consumers.

I imagine you branding folks out there are cringing, and you search engine optimization guys are cheering. I?m not at all convinced that Don is right. What do you think?


Category: Branding | 401 Comments »

How Direct Marketers Think

November 23rd, 2004 by Bob Bly

In this blog, I want to provide the blogosphere with a view from my side of the fence as a member of another ?sphere? ? old-fashioned direct marketers who still believe the main purpose of marketing is to get the cash register ringing and not just have ?conversations.?

To start off, let me share with you what I believe is the ?mindset? of direct marketing, based on my quarter of a century in the business:

1. Direct marketers are only concerned with one thing ? ROI (return on investment). That is, if you spend a dollar on a mailing, do you get two or three dollars back in sales?

2. Direct marketers don?t care if other marketing experts find their promotions loud, unappealing, too hard sell, or behind the times. We only care if those promotions work.

3. Direct marketers know that often ugly and crude outperforms beautiful and sophisticated. Not always, but often.

4. Direct marketers know that subjective opinion about copy and creative count for squat. The only way to determine whether my copy is better or worse than your copy is in an A/B split test ? not subjective judgment.

5. Non-direct marketers get very excited about new media and methods early, despite the fact that they have not proven their ability to generate positive ROI ? and largely, it seems to me, because they are new. They are very eager to spend time and money on new vehicles that have not proven themselves in the marketplace.

6. Direct marketers, on the other hand, are cautious and conservative. We want to know something works before we spend money on it. And even then, we conduct small tests to make sure it will work for us before rolling out with it on a larger scale.

7. Non-direct marketers are obsessed with branding, awareness, and image. Direct marketers consider ROI the primary objective, and we resist having our promotions being controlled by any branding requirements that might interfere with achieving it.

8. Direct marketers are increasingly finding that what works in offline (print) ? direct mail, space ads ? works online. Yes, there are some differences. But strong selling copy is needed to secure the order whether from a DM package or a landing page.

9. Direct marketers expect to see immediate ROI from their marketing efforts. Non-direct marketers hope to see their efforts change behavior or attitude in the market over a much longer horizon.

10. Non-direct marketers take extra pride in campaigns that are creative, clever, edgy, funny, or splashy. Direct marketers couldn?t care less about such things and some of us even look down our noses at them.

If there are folks in the blogosphere who find the above guidelines foolish, unwise, or outdated, I?d love to read a post from you stating your position. And thanks for visiting my blog!


Category: Direct Marketing | 408 Comments »