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Archive for January, 2007

E-Mail Marketing: How Much Is Too Much?

January 27th, 2007 by Bob Bly

A couple of months ago, I joined the opt-in e-list of a semi-obscure entertainer whose CDs I enjoy.

By mid-afternoon of that day, I had received three e-mail marketing messages from him.

When a fourth arrived around 5pm, I hollered “enough!” — and unsubscribed from his list.

That got me thinking about the question: how much e-mail is too much?

Say you subscribe to a company’s monthly e-newsletter.

In addition to that monthly e-letter, will you tolerate additional e-mail messages from them?

If so, how many?

One a week … one a day … somewhere in between?

How much e-mail is too much?


Category: General, Online Marketing | 87 Comments »

Does Ugly Design Sell Best?

January 25th, 2007 by Bob Bly

In his latest column in Target Marketing (1/07, p. 58), Denny Hatch repeats the old advice that in direct marketing, ugly sells.

He quotes Bob Hacker, who states “ugly works,” and Lew Smith, who says, “Neatness rejects involvement.”

But is the idea that “ugly sells” still on target?

Or is today’s more sophisticated consumer … in an age where branding is much revered … likely to reject a poorly designed mailing as amateurish and unprofessional?

What about you?

When you create a direct mail package, do you hire a top-flight graphic designer to make it look as clean, neat, colorful, and glossy as an annual report?

Or do you too believe that “ugly sells”?


Category: Direct Marketing | 200 Comments »

Revenge of the Online Marketers

January 22nd, 2007 by Bob Bly

Internet users who don’t like online marketing let us online marketers know it — in loud, often abusive, profanity filled e-mails — when they don’t like our promotions.

I never really understood this: I mean, how much are you really being harmed getting an e-mail you don’t want?

Now, a recent article in Time may cause some anti-spammers to tone down their righteous indignation a bit before screaming at e-mail marketers.

When anti-spammer Mark Mumma got a few e-mails he didn’t like from, he posted photos of’s founders on his Web site and called them “spammers.”

To his surprise, sued Mumma for besmirching their reputations.

The case is heading for trial, and Mumma could end up paying $3.8 million in damages.

You may not like e-mail marketing, and if you don’t, just unsubscribe from the list sending you the e-mail you don’t want.

But as the Mumma case demonstrates, getting an e-mail you THINK may be spam does not give you carte blanche to say or do anything you please in response — even though, as a legitimate e-mail marketer, I can tell you that many people out there think it does.

Source: “A Spammer’s Revenge,” TIme, 1/15/07, p. 62.


Category: General | 56 Comments »

The Awful Truth About Innovation

January 18th, 2007 by Bob Bly

Branding and online marketing types, as a rule, get enthused by creativity, innovation, originality, and new ideas.

We direct marketers don’t.

What excites us is making the cash register ring … not being original or “creative.”

If we can knock off a winning promo and make it work for our product — we’re as happy as a clam.

Being a pioneer — in a new media, a new market, a new technology — can sometimes be profitable.

But more often, it can be the most costly mistake you ever make.

According to an article in MarketSmart (11/06, p. 12.), innovation fails to pay back its cost of capital more than 90% of the time.

So beware of gurus and creative types with new ideas.

Embrace what’s been tested and proven to work.

You won’t win advertising awards.

But you will get a greater ROMD (return on marketing dollars).


Category: General | 76 Comments »

The More Things Change

January 16th, 2007 by Bob Bly

Of 1,472 managers surveyed by the American Management Association, 70% said their organizations experienced disruptive change within the last year.

And more than 80% said that the pace of change is speeding up all over the world.

That’s especially true in marketing.

Every time I look around, there’s some new-fangled thing I have to learn to stay current:

Podcasting … blogging … Google Adwords … SEO copywriting … My Space … You Tube … you name it.

Of the new marketing technologies out there, which do you think is the most important … and why?

And does all this change make you rub your hands with glee — or throw them up in despair?


Category: General | 58 Comments »

Which Headline Writing Style is Best?

January 11th, 2007 by Bob Bly

Here are headlines from two different promotions for two different products in the same category: prostate supplements designed to reduce prostate swelling and eliminate urination problems:

A. Male urination problems?

B. Pee like a firehose.

Which approach do you think works better … and why?


Category: General | 54 Comments »

Eggplant Cures Cancer!

January 8th, 2007 by Bob Bly

Nutrition & Healing, a consumer health newsletter, sent a mailing, which I received today, to sell subscriptions.

The headline: “Cure Cancer With Eggplant?!”

If you think they’re joking, the subhead sets you straight: “That’s C-U-R-E, not just improve–one of today’s most common and scariest cancers … usually in under 3 months!”

I had an immediate reaction upon reading the headline, and I bet you did, too.

Which of the following best describes your reaction to the eggplant headline, and why?

A. Curious and fascinated — I want to learn more. I’ll keep reading.
B. What utter B.S. — snake oil being sold here! Mailing goes into the round file.
C. Skeptical but interested enough to read further.
D. Gotta have it! Where do I order?
E. Other (please describe):_________________


Category: Direct Marketing, General | 141 Comments »

LinkedIn: Another Big Waste of Time Online?

January 2nd, 2007 by Bob Bly

I increasingly get e-mails from people asking me to join something called their “LinkedIn” network.

And always, I politely decline.

I don’t know about you, but I am busy enough as it is.

If I have your e- mail address, and you have mine, and we know each other — we are already connected.

Asking someone to take any further action seems, to me, a waste of their time — and yours.

But then again, I am a Baby Boomer who finds all of this “social media” strange, alien, and absurd.

I have never even seen YouTube and MySpace … don’t own an iPod, digital camera, Bluetooth, Blackberry, wireless laptop, or even a cell phone.

Would those of you who are involved with all of the above explain to me — WHY?

It just seems like an endless parade of electronic crap … pardon my French.


Category: General | 111 Comments »