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Archive for March, 2005

Blogs Don?t Do ?Diddly Squat? for Marketers

March 14th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Are blogs effective marketing tools? Not according to MarketingSherpa.

?Call us cynics,? says an article in Sherpa?s 3/14/05 issue. ?Blogs may be hip and trendy, but they don?t do diddly-squat for most people?s businesses.?

The proof? After 4 years of research, MarketingSherpa found that only 0.03% of the 34.5 million existing blogs are driving sales or prospective customers to their bloggers.

Any bloggers, blogging evangelists, or blogging consultants out there that care to dispute MarketingSherpa?s research ? or their conclusion that blogs have little value as a marketing tool?


Category: Blogging | 87 Comments »

Confessions of a Mail-Order Rip-Off Artist

March 11th, 2005 by Bob Bly

I hate to admit it, but I?m a mail order rip-off artist ? but as a consumer, not a marketer.

And if you follow the advice I?m about to give you, you can get some of the greatest deals on Earth ? by ?ripping off? direct marketing companies.

I don?t mean illegal or immoral rip-offs, such as ordering a product and then not paying the bill ? knowing full well the direct marketing company is unlikely to ever collect such a small debt from you.

I mean taking advantage of direct response offers, keeping the premium, and then immediately canceling or returning the product ? just to get the premium!

For instance, Gevalia Coffee has the most incredible offer you can imagine in their print ads ? sign up for their monthly coffee service, and get the first shipment of two coffees for $10 ? plus a FREE coffee maker!

We took the bait. Sure enough, you get two delicious gourmet flavored coffees ? well worth the $10 alone ? PLUS a beautiful coffee maker.

We canceled the service as soon as we got the machine and our first two coffees, so the whole kit and caboodle cost us a grand total of ten bucks.

What?s the lesson here? Direct marketing companies routinely make overly generous offers on the ?front end? to get you in as a customer ? because they know that a large number of people who take the bait will stay to buy more ? and so the offer becomes profitable.

Another example is Easton Press. I accepted their offer of a beautiful leather-bound edition of Moby Dick and paid just $5.95 (the average price of their leather bound classics is around $50.)

I immediately opted out of the continuity program (“100 Greatest Books:), so you?d think I got something for (almost) nothing from them.

But they kept sending me more mailings for other series and single books. And now there?s a pile of about $300 worth of handsome leather-bound books on the shelves of my home library ? and countless hours of enjoyable reading ahead for me.

So, who?s really coming out ahead here?

Well, I love the books. And Easton Press is making money.

So I guess we BOTH are winners here, which is how good DM works. Right?


Category: Direct Marketing | 45 Comments »

Good Copywriting or Bad? You Be the Judge.

March 7th, 2005 by Bob Bly

I?ve always maintained that good copywriting is clear and conversational ? but there are many marketers who apparently disagree.

For instance, here?s an excerpt from a brochure promoting a conference on Buying and Selling eContent:

?Instead of building universal, definitive taxonomies, information architects are finding there is a tremendous benefit to creating un-taxonomized miscellaneous pools of enriched data objects so that users can sort and organize to suit their own peculiar needs ? [resulting in] information systems are far more contextualized.?

I call this example ?What did he say?? It?s pretentious, laden with jargon, and it?s not how people talk.

What do YOU think about this copy ? profound, enticing, acceptable, a turn-off, or just plain terrible?


Category: Direct Marketing, General | 66 Comments »

Niche Branding: A Bunch of (Red) Bull?

March 4th, 2005 by Bob Bly

I?m an advocate of niche marketing ? but this may be taking it too far.

According to an article in BusinessWeek (3/14/05, p. 14), companies in the ?energy drink? market ? highly caffeinated beverages selling for $2 a can ? are competing with Red Bull, which owns a 60% market share, by appealing to niches.

But the idea of an ?energy drink? for some of these niches seems — to me, anyway — to be an oxymoron.

For instance, a drink called BAWLS Gurana targets video game players. Well, my kids play these video games for hours on an end. And I can tell you that very little physical energy is required.

Then there?s Bong Water, aimed at marijuana smokers. How much energy does it take to sit around, smoke weed, and get stoned?

A third beverage, Kaballah Energy Drink, targets Jewish mysticism. I?m Jewish ? but why either Jews or mystics need their own energy drink is way beyond me.

I know nothing about branding. So let me ask you branding folks out there:

Isn?t a brand supposed to make a logical connection with the beliefs, desires, and character of the market it targets?

Or is that totally irrelevant in today?s brave new world of hip and trendy marketing?


Category: Branding | 98 Comments »