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Archive for January, 2005

The Simple Ad Agency Life

January 28th, 2005 by Bob Bly

In a recent segment of the reality TV series The Simple Life, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie were interning at a New York creative ad agency.

The boss gave Nicole a terribly important assignment: reserving a table for lunch at a trendy NYC restaurant that is usually booked up a week in advance.

When Nicole completed the task successfully, the agency owner told her, ?I think you have what it takes to make it in this business!?

Unfortunately, I don?t think he was joking.

The three-martini lunch on Madison Avenue is a clich?, but amazingly, certain businesses ? advertising and publishing among them ? still seem to embrace it.

Here?s what this says to me about the agency employing Paris and Nicole:

1. They are so untalented that their method of making a client happy is to take him to lunch.

2. They place little value on their time (these fancy restaurant lunches can easily take 2 hours or more).

3. They don?t offer real value (in terms of increasing client ROI), and they hope by entertaining the client well no one will notice.

Maybe I?m just reading too much into this. But in my 25 years in marketing ? 23 years as a freelance copywriter and 2 years on the client side ? I saw too many agencies who viewed taking the client to a fancy lunch as their major achievement.

How sad — and pathetic.


Category: General | 101 Comments »

What’s Wrong With Cluetrain?

January 24th, 2005 by Bob Bly

It?s this?.

By proclaiming that ?markets are conversations,? and that talking with customers is the ultimate marketing methodology, Cluetrain ignores this important truism from Rene Descartes:

?To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.?

That?s where we direct marketers have it all over the Cluetrain crowd.

We aren?t guided just by what people say they want or will do; we primarily pay attention to what they actually do ? in other words, what they buy.

You can determine what your prospects will buy based on your own test mailing ? or by studying the successful control mailings of your competitors in the same category.

Because those control mailings are working, they tell you the appeals that are causing customers to open their wallets ? those marketing approaches that are making money right now.

Actions speak louder than words, and what people actually buy is infinitely more important than what they say they will buy.

Which do YOU think is a more accurate indicator of what your market wants ? a ?conversation? or a purchase?


Category: Direct Marketing | 100 Comments »

The RFM Formula in Direct Marketing

January 21st, 2005 by Bob Bly

The answer to the ?Test Your Direct Marketing I.Q.? quiz (see below) is (a). When someone makes a donation, you should send a solicitation asking for more money as soon as possible ? ideally, that same day or the next day.

To me, that?s counterintuitive: I?d think that if Joe just gave us money, he would be tapped out and want to wait awhile before giving us more. But testing shows that the opposite is true, and has allowed direct marketers to develop the RFM formula, which stands for recency, frequency, and monetary.

RFM says:

* Recency — the person who bought (or donated) the most recently is the most likely to buy (or donate) again.

* Frequency — the person who buys frequently is more likely to buy again than the person who buys infrequently.

* Monetary — the person who spent the most money is more likely to buy again (and will spend more) than the person who spent less money.

There are very few rules that hold in DM, but RFM is one of them. It is nearly a universal truth, with virtually no exceptions.


Category: Direct Marketing | 119 Comments »

Is Paper Direct Mail Dead?

January 18th, 2005 by Bob Bly

The answer is a resounding ?no,? according to Target Marketing columnist Denny Hatch, who writes: ?With the Can Spam Act and do-not-call laws, snail mail is once again the workhorse of direct marketing. And all direct marketers better learn how to write it, design it, and find precisely the right people to send it to, or they will wind up in the same career ash heap as the smarty-pants, dot-com wizards of the late 1990s.?

Is Denny right? Is direct mail ?hot? again? Does it work and make money? Or does it cause needless tree deaths, as people throw it away without a second glance?


Category: Direct Marketing | 105 Comments »

Test Your Direct Marketing I.Q.

January 17th, 2005 by Bob Bly

You are the marketing director for a nonprofit. Today in the mail you receive a $50 donation from a first-time donor. When should you send him a letter asking for more money ? and why?

A. Tomorrow.

B. Next week.

C. Next month.

D. Next year.

E. Never.

I’ll post the correct answer in a few days….


Category: Direct Marketing | 103 Comments »

Direct Marketers Unlikely to Embrace Blogging

January 12th, 2005 by Bob Bly

When blogging evangelists speak to me, they all say, ?Blogging is a marketing revolution. Why don?t you get that, moron??

When direct marketers speak to me, they all ask, ?What are these blogging guys all hyped up about? No one?s making any serious money with blogs. What a waste of time!?

My opinion, after spending just 2 months in the blogosphere (and a quarter of a century in direct marketing), is that direct marketers are unlikely to embrace blogging any time soon ? for the simple reason that ROI has not been directly demonstrated or measured.

For instance, MB, the marketing director at a major publisher of business-to-business newsletters told me, ?We are paying no attention to blogging, because we see no way to monetize it.?

My challenge to the blogging crowd: How would you respond to MB? Do you have any direct marketers as clients who are making significant money from blogging? Who? How much? How?


Category: Blogging | 116 Comments »

Blockbuster’s Deceptive Advertising

January 10th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Blockbuster’s new commercials promise, ?The end of late fees.?

But of course, that?s impossible: if there is no penalty for returning a movie late, you could keep it forever.

The way it really works: there?s no late fee when you keep a movie a few extra days. But if you don?t return the movie within 7 days, you are forced to buy it at the current retail price.

Then, you can still return the movie you ?purchased? within 30 days for ?a restocking fee plus applicable taxes.? After that, you?ve bought the movie permanently and it?s yours.

Does that make ?the end of late fees? a truthful or deceptive claim? In my opinion, the latter ? they are lying to consumers, pure and simple.

?The end of late fees? is trumpeted in Blockbuster?s prime time TV spots. But the ?fine print? of the deal is printed in a little booklet you can get ? at my local Blockbuster anyway ? only if you ask for it.


Category: General | 114 Comments »

10 Secrets of Success

January 7th, 2005 by Bob Bly

My good friend Roger Parker asked me to come up with ?10 success secrets? and talk about them in a teleconference, which we did.

Here?s my list of what I think it takes to be successful:

1. Define what success means to you. Then pursue success as you define it ? not as others do.

2. Love what you do for a living. Noel Coward said ?work is more fun than fun.?

3. Find the intersection of your passions and the needs of the market.

4. Become the best you can be at what you do. Work tirelessly to increase your skill and knowledge.

5. Specialize. Master and dominate a niche of the market, rather than attempt to master the whole market.

6. Be the consummate craftsman. Always DO your best on every job.

7. Be the client?s ally and partner, not his adversary.

8. Do not undercharge. Charge what you are worth. But don?t overcharge; don?t make it difficult for clients to hire you.

9. When in doubt, get money up front.

10. Don?t waste time with things that may be pleasant or entertaining, but do not help you achieve your goals. Value your time as the precious, limited resource it is.

Make sense? Any you would add to the list or dispute?


Category: General | 147 Comments »