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Archive for February, 2005

What Matters in Marketing is What Works — Not What You Think Works

February 22nd, 2005 by Bob Bly

?I discard all marketing materials received in my mail without reading them, period,? writes Aileen Cassidy in a post on this blog. ?There is simply too much of this material clogging up my mailbox to have it invaded by strangers.?

Aileen makes the common error of concluding that, just because she doesn?t like direct marketing, direct marketing can?t possibly work.

?Everyone I know feels the same way,? she contines. ?So how come these methods are so aggressively pursued? Do they really improve sales? I am curious.?

I think Aileen already knows the answer to her question, which is this: of course they are profitable. Otherwise, marketers wouldn?t keep doing them.

Condemning — or advocating — a marketing tactic because you personally don?t like it or like it is the most amateur mistake you can make.

The best advice in this regard comes from my colleague, top DM copywriter Peter Beutel, who warns us: ?Don?t get caught up by personal preference.?

What you think or don?t think works — or should work — is irrelevant; what actually works or doesn?t work is all that matters.



Category: Direct Marketing, General | 96 Comments »

The Death of Craft

February 18th, 2005 by Bob Bly

We live in a society that, for the most part, seems to value speed, efficiency, service, economy, and technology over quality and craftsmanship.

Therefore, those who are true craftsmen or masters of a particular trade are rapidly becoming obsolete or unable to compete in business ? because consumers are not willing to pay a premium for the level of craftsmanship they bring to their product or service.

Example: a local resident in my county has spent his professional life becoming a master at tuning pianos by ear and hand.

But new technology allows far less skilled technicians to tune pianos adequately, using electronic monitors, faster and more efficiently ? and these untrained tuners charge much less.

Photography is another great example of ?the death of craft,? according to BD.

?I am a professional photographer,? says BD. ?I got my skills to a world-class level and realized that ? for the most part ? people no longer cared enough to support my business.?

He blames it, in part, on the frenzied pace of modern society: ?As you know, it follows that the fast pace erodes appreciation for craft in our young.

?If I could produce quality at the speed, price, and efficiency, I?m not sure the young buyers would recognize the quality of craft.?

Another example is graphic design ? and it?s a sad story.

In the early 1980s, when I was an advertising manager for a manufacturing company in New York City, I used SB, a freelance graphic artist, to design our sales brochures.

He was such a meticulous craftsman that, when he got galleys from the typesetter, he would literally cut the text apart word by word ? even letter by letter, at times ? to make it just right.

?Will anyone know the difference?? I asked him.

?I?ll know the difference,? SB replied.

But with the advent of desktop publishing, doing layouts manually faded away, and no one was willing to pay SB?s rates for his level of skill and caring. Clients wanted jobs delivered electronically as Mac files; no one wanted the old-fashioned boards that SB did by hand. And today SB is a doorman in New York City.

How about you? Are you a craftsperson? And do you ever worry about your craft dying out or being rendered obsolete by either technology or changing times?


Category: General | 90 Comments »

If You Don’t Bother to Learn Your Craft, Don’t Bother Period.

February 15th, 2005 by Bob Bly

A business owner recently told me, ?I hired an ad agency that seems to know nothing about direct marketing. When I asked their copywriter whether she?d read John Caples, her response was, ?I?ve never heard of him.??

He was surprised — and dismayed.

But is this as big as sin as he makes it out to be?

In my opinion, yes.

Direct marketing is more complex than most other forms of marketing (online marketing being the possible exception).

There are lots of principles you need to understand, based on millions of dollars of tested results.

To ignore this body of knowledge, accumulated at great cost, is foolhardy.

Especially since this knowledge is readily obtained by reading the books that the top direct marketing experts have written … books in which they freely share what they know.

Click here for my list of the 10 marketing books every direct marketer absolutely must read.

How many of these have you read? If you haven?t read them, why not? What books would you recommend instead?


Category: Direct Marketing | 88 Comments »

Work for the Money, Not Your Passion

February 10th, 2005 by Bob Bly

My colleague CM, one of the world?s most successful DM copywriters, shocked me when I asked him about his success.

?Forget all that advice about ?do what you?re passionate about,?? CM told me. ?Work is about making money — as much money as you can.

?For instance, if you love horses, don?t study to be a veterinarian. Instead, go into a business where you make a lot of money. That way, you can own as many horses as you want.?

I?ve always taken a different tact: follow your passion. Do what you love to do, then find a market or application where you can make good money doing it.

Most successful people I know worked hard to get where they are. And you won?t put in long hours unless you truly love what you do.

Whose approach do you like: CM’s or mine? And why?


Category: Success | 118 Comments »

tracking direct response in the blogosphere??

February 8th, 2005 by jshallman

I am new to the blogosphere. I am intrigued by its ability to hit a target audience. The company I work for tracks calls generated by advertisement….I think this tool will help bloggers explode with success. check us out at


Category: Direct Marketing, General | 115 Comments »

Are You Guilty of “Content Pollution?”

February 1st, 2005 by Bob Bly

Am I wrong, or has technology ? specifically, the Internet, desktop pubishing, and printing on demand ? reduced two of my favorite things in the world, books and writing, to mere commodities?

When I started out as a writer at Westinghouse in the late 1970s, managers who wanted to demean the craft of writing called it ?word-smithing.?

But I think that the true demise of the craft was signaled when people began referring to writing as ?content? ? which, like pork or butter, sounds like something that should be sold by the pound.

Certainly, with 150,000 books published every year, we?re suffering from a new kind of pollution ? ?content pollution.? There?s simply too much to read, and not enough time to read it.

I worry that, every time I write in my blog, or write an article or a book, I am contributing to this content pollution.

After all, aren?t there already a million others already writing on the same topics and saying the same things? And isn?t that true for virtually every author ? and every topic ? on the planet?


Category: Writing and the Internet | 135 Comments »