Bob Bly Direct Response Copywriter Official Banner

Archive for June, 2006

Which Picture Pulled Best?

June 28th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Imagine you are running an ad for a diet book written by an MD who is not a celebrity.

You can only show one image.

Your choices are a picture of:

A. The front cover of the book.
B. A head shot of the author.
C. A before and after shot of a middle-aged home-maker who went from obese to normal weight by following the diet.
D. A photo of a sexy, toned female model wearing a belly shirt showing off her rock-hard abs.
E. A photo fo a sexy, toned male model showing his rock-hard abs.

You cannot test. You can only pick one.

Which would you pick? And why?


Category: General | 197 Comments »

Do Braggarts Turn You Off?

June 26th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Have you ever noticed that many people feel the need to build themselves up by tearing others down?

At a party, I was introduced by the host to another guest.

“What do you do?” he asked me — a good way to start a conversation.

“I am a direct mail writer,” I replied.

Immediately he frowned, as if smelling garbage.

“I never reply to that junk,” he said haughtily. “I throw it all right in the trash.”

Feeling about 2 feet tall, I asked him politely, “What do YOU do?”

“I am a chiropractor,” he answered with an air of superiority.

“Oh, I never go to chiropractors,” I wanted to tell him, “I throw all their advertisements right in the trash.”

After the party, I conveyed this story to my wife, who said she was glad I didn’t say the above … and that it would have been rude to do so.

But why? Didn’t he just say the same thing to me?

Perhaps I should have pointed out to him that we both had something in common — neither of us, apparently, could get into medical school….


Category: General | 53 Comments »

Mea Culpa

June 22nd, 2006 by Bob Bly

I owe Dianna Huff, a great B2B copywriter and one of my favorite people in the business, an apology.

In my last post, even though I did not name her and credited comments to “DH,” she felt I took her comments out of context — and she may be right.

Dianna is a terrifically talented copywriter who indeed knows how to get great results for her clients — and also how to make their life easier.

If she lets me, I’m going to put a link from this blog to her’s shortly … so you can read her stuff for yourself.


Category: General | 55 Comments »

What’s Important to B2B Marketers?

June 20th, 2006 by Bob Bly

DH, a B2B copywriter, shocked me by saying in a recent e-mail: “My clients aren’t looking for results — my clients are looking to make their jobs easier … I often write simply to take the stress load off my client.

“One client says to me all the time, ‘Thank you. You make me look good.’ That is my job, as I see it.”

I write a ton of B2B, and that’s not at all how I see my job.

My job is to write the strongest possible copy for the client’s product or service — copy that’s going to increase click through rates, conversions, leads, appointments, RFPs, and sales.

In other words, copy that makes the cash register ring!

So let me ask those of you who ARE B2B marketers — or who work for B2B clients:

What’s most important to you?

Writing safe, tame copy that is exactly what the client wants, and can be approved without hassle or rewrite?

Or writing the most powerful copy possible, to make money for the business?


Category: General | 87 Comments »

“Can I Get Your E-Zine Without Your Ads?”

June 18th, 2006 by Bob Bly

RS, one of my e-newsletter subscribers, recently sent me a note that said: “You don?t give people a way to unsubscribe from just promos, so it’s either get everything or nothing. ”

RS would prefer that I give two options to my e-zine subscribers: (a) e-newsletter only or (b) e-newsletter plus promotional e-mails.

Should I offer this choice? Do YOU do it for your e-list?

If you answered “yes,” let me ask you: if someone wants my free e-newsletter but is not willing to receive my promotional e-mails, what is my incentive to give it to them?

“Nobody but a blockhead ever wrote except for money,” said Samuel Johnson.

I write for money — it’s how I support my family.

So if someone doesn’t think my free e-newsletter is worth what I ask in return for giving it away — which is her willingness to receive a few e-mails from me each month, mainly letting her know about my books, tapes, and other information products — why should I want her to continue to subscribe?

Or, as actors are fond of asking the director — “What’s my motivation?”


Category: General | 43 Comments »

Is Paying Referral Fees Wrong?

June 14th, 2006 by Bob Bly

A colleague, MA, recently referred several potential clients to me.

When I thanked him, he said: “No need to thank me. When you do a good job for my clients, you make me look good — and that’s all the thanks I need!”

I give my clients referrals to other vendors I know and trust for the same reason MA does: to help my clients.

Tha’s why it shocks me when vendors approach me and say: “Send business to us and we’ll give you a referral fee.”

I always refuse such arrangements, for two reasons.

First, I consider it my duty to my clients to refer them to the best vendor for the job — not the one who pays me.

And second, clients come to me for objective, unbiased advice. If I am getting a kick-back from the vendor, how objective can my advice to use their services be?

So I never accept referral fees from vendors … nor do I pay fees to get referrals.

Do you agree with me that paying for referrals is wrong? Or am I missing the boat on this one?


Category: General | 74 Comments »

More Angry Internet People

June 9th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Here’s another example of (to me) inappropriate rage caused by Internet marketing:

“I am ANGRY,” said LE in a voice mail he left me. “I ordered your World’s Best-Kept Copywriting Secrets, but instead of getting a BOOK, I get some computer file I have to download.

“I don’t want to read your book on the computer screen. I want a BOOK I can hold in my hands. Either send me the book or cancel my order.”

Well, here’s the copy from the landing page where LE ordered the book:

“The World?s Best-Kept Copywriting Secrets … is an e-book. There?s no printing or shipping cost. The e-book is delivered as a downloadable PDF file.”

What part of that do you think was unclear to LE? This wasn’t in fine print or a footnote, either. It was part of the sales letter.

Of course, I gave LE back his money.

The lesson for those of us selling information online?

Make the format VERY clear in your copy. Specify whether your information is an e-book, e-course, MP3, audio CD, DVD.

But LE, if you’re reading this — don’t you feel your “anger” was perhaps a tad inappropriate, given that I clearly told you it was an ebook you were ordering?

BTW, LE, you don’t have to read an e-book on the computer screen. You can hit the print button, print it on your laser printer, and read a hard copy. I do that with all the e-books I buy, punch three holes in the print out, and store it in a 3-ring binder.


Category: General | 40 Comments »

Can You Get People to Buy by Insulting Them?

June 7th, 2006 by Bob Bly

AN, a Web designer, seems to think so.

The other day he sent me an e-mail saying he enjoys my books — but that my Web site,, is crappy and poorly designed.

He never bothers to ask first whether the Web site is working — or how much money it is making for me — issues that apparently don’t concern him nearly as much as the fact that I don’t use a CMS (content management system) or that my pages are in HTML, something he doesn’t like.

Of course, for a fee, Web designer AN can fix it for me — and make it much better. Or so he says.

Let me ask those of you, especially those of you who either (a) have Web sites or (b) provide services….

How would you rate sending potential clients an e-mail criticizing what they’re doing, and then offering your own services to fix it, as a marketing strategy — good, bad, or terrible? And why?


Category: General | 80 Comments »