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Archive for August, 2007

Why I Don’t Admire Jerry Della Famina

August 28th, 2007 by Bob Bly

I’m a fan of David Ogilvy. Rosser Reeves. James Webb Young.

But Jerry Della Femina? Not so much.

Della Femina was interviewed by the NY Post (8/27/07, pp. 38-39) for an article on the differences in the ad agency business of the 1960s vs. today.

Laments Della Femina: “It went from being a business of fun to being a business of money, and that changes everything.”

Pity Della Femina’s poor clients, whose ad agency — Della Femina — thought its mission was to have fun with the client’s money, and not turn it into more money.

Adds Della Femina, explaining how he and his colleagues could have the proverbial 3-martini lunch every day and then go back to work: “The only thing that made it possible was that the people you were dealing with were as drunk as you are.”

I’m sure Della Femina clients would have loved knowing that Jerry and his staff were bombed when working on all those costly ad campaigns.

I have fun every day as a freelance copywriter — more fun than anyone has a right to have at work and still call it “work.”

But having fun is a side effect of loving what I do and (I think) doing it at a reasonable level of competence.

My objective, however, is always to make the client’s marketing make more money.

That’s what he’s paying me for. Not to have a party.


Category: Advertising, General | 174 Comments »

Michael Vick Goes to the Dogs

August 25th, 2007 by Bob Bly

An editorial on a news program said that Michael Vick, pleading guilty to promoting dog fighting, should be banned from the NFL for life.

But it also said the REASON the NFL should take this action is that it should not promote or condone violence.


Professional football IS violence: 300-pound giants trying to flatten one another into a pancake.

I agree that dog fighting is sick (I love dogs but would feel this way regardless).

For his crime, I think Vick — a sick and despicable creature — should be given the maximum punishment allowable under the law.

But after that, he should be allowed to earn a living in his chosen profession.

(If he makes you sick, boycott his football games. If we all do that, his team may let him go — that’s their call.)

But do you see a logical disconnect in the NFL taking an overall anti-violence stance? (Maybe the NRA could join them.)

The point?

What you say — in an ad, press conference, article, letter, speech, sales meeting, or at a cocktail party — has to be logically consistent.

The minute you take a stance that is in logical conflict with reality (e.g., vegetarians for meat; a subprime lender foreclosing on its mortgage owners portraying a kindly father image in its TV spots), you confuse your audience, lose credibility, and destroy the persuasiveness of your argument.


Category: General | 68 Comments »

Best and Worst Places Online to Learn Copywriting

August 22nd, 2007 by Bob Bly

There are a TON of promoters online today selling how-to programs in both “how to write copy” and “how to make six figures as a freelance copywriter” — two different but related topics.

Which ones have you found that are the “real deal” — great content, clear instruction, and a guru who is a genuine expert.

Which ones have you tried that did not work — and were so bad you’d advise others to stay away from?


Category: General | 91 Comments »

Starbucks and Internet Piracy

August 20th, 2007 by Bob Bly

A woman on a talk radio show admitted to stealing sugar packets from her local Starbucks.

But she expressed no shame.

Indeed, she felt the theft was justified by the outrageous prices Starbucks charges for a cup of coffee, calling her pilfering a “condiment subsidy.”

What does this have to do with Internet piracy?

People’s willingness to steal online and violate copyright is determined by two primary factors:

1. How easy it is to steal the material.

2. How much you are charging for your content or software in relation to its value.

If it’s difficult and inexpensive to steal the material, they’ll just buy a legal copy.

For instance, few people avoid purchasing a dictionary by photocopying the pages, because it’s a pain in the neck, inconvenient, and expensive to do so.

If the consumer feels your product is a rip-off, they will be more inclined to pirate it. Example: an outrageously priced new version of a software package in which the upgrade merely eliminates defects that should never have been in the old version in the first place.

People will download a song illegally even when they can do so legally at a reasonable price simply because it is so easy.

Reader, do YOU every violate copyright and steal material online for any of the above reasons or for any other reasons?

Do you agree that to do so is stealing and robbing the creator of the profit from intellectual property she created?


Category: General | 223 Comments »

The Death of Blogging

August 13th, 2007 by Bob Bly

According to a Forrester Research Report, only 11% of IT decision-makers surveyed said blogging delivers substantial business value.

That means nearly 9 out of 10 of those surveyed find little or no value in blogging.

Does this new finding finally put to rest the myth, perpetuated mainly by evangelists and consultants on the blogosphere, that blogging is the most important marketing tool since sliced bread?

Or are blogging gurus still going to try to sell corporate and marcom management on the silly notion that every business needs a blog?


Category: Blogging, General | 497 Comments »

The Easiest Marketing Job in the World … and the Hardest

August 8th, 2007 by Bob Bly

After nearly 3 decades in marketing, I’ve come to the conclusion that the easiest job in marketing is market research. Here’s why:

1. You don’t have to sell anything.

2. You don’t have to come up with new ideas; you merely have to ask questions and report the results.

3. Anything you create, no matter what the findings, adds to your client’s knowledge. Therefore, you are seen as a provider of wisdom on the leading edge of the market.

4. If the market research yields great insights, you are a hero.

5. If the market research yields nothing, it’s not your fault; you can’t help what people think.

The toughest job in marketing?

Direct response copywriter.

No matter how well you write, you are subject to the judgment of a client committee — which is of course subjective.

Even if you have been writing DR for years and have a great track record, MBAs fresh out of college who know nothing about direct marketing will try to tell you how to do your job.

If the promotion you write doesn’t work, you’re in the doghouse.

If your promotion is a winner, the client will immediately start hiring other writers to beat your control, and of course, one of them will, sooner or later.

Why would anyone want to be a direct response copywriter when you can get paid to write lengthy market research reports that clients pay fortunes for and never ask you to rewrite?


Category: General | 93 Comments »

Yours FREE — My Gift to You!

August 3rd, 2007 by Bob Bly

In the mail today I received a bright red Monarch envelope.

The teaser — in large boldface all-caps — simply read:


Would that make you want to open the envelope — either because it makes you curious or you like to get free stuff?

Or would does it instantly warn you “this is advertising mail,” causing you to throw it away unopened?

In short, is “LIMITED TIME FREE GIFT OFFER” a good, bad, or terrible headline … and why?


Category: General | 52 Comments »

Do Metrics and Measurement Matter?

August 1st, 2007 by Bob Bly

The cover story in this month’s issue of Training & Development magazine is “Metrics and Measurement: Do They Matter?”

The article argues in favor of measuring success in sales training and performance … vs. (I would guess) NOT measuring it.

The fact that the headline is phrased as a question implies that there are people who are AGAINST measuring the results generated through sales training.

Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it?

Yet, there are people who don’t measure the results generated from their marketing programs.

And there are those who never test marketing ideas against each other in a simple A/B split.

They argue passionately about whether concept A or B … or headline A or B … is better, when they could quicky and easily test the two concepts or headlines online at minimal cost.

Marketers give lip service to testing, but except for the bigger direct marketers, most companies do little measurement and even less split testing.

I think the top reasons for lack of testing and measurement are:

A. Lack of knowledge of how to conduct a test.
B. View testing as too much work and hassle.
C. Not sure what they would do with the results.

Any other reasons you can think of why so many marketers measure their results minimally if at all?


Category: General | 52 Comments »