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Archive for February, 2008

The Copywriter’s Conundrum

February 12th, 2008 by Bob Bly

You are a freelance copywriter. A client comes to you with an interesting project — nice fee, your type of work (lsales letter, magalog, whatever your specialty).

Then the client sends you the product. You review it several times. But your conclusion is always the same: it’s a weak product that is highly unlikely to sell in the mail. In fact, you think it will almost surely fail.

The client is excited about it. But nothing he says convinces you that his enthusiasm is justified. You are certain it’s a dog.

So what do you do? Your choices are:

A. Tell the client it won’t work and politely turn down the job.
B. Keep your mouth shut, take the client’s money, write the copy for him, and hope you are wrong and it actually does well in the mail.
C. Tell the client you think it will fail, but say you’ll be happy to take a crack at writing it for your usual fee.
D. Other (please specify).

Which of the above would you choose — and why?


Category: General | 54 Comments »

Numbers Reveal Harsh Reality of Ad Results

February 8th, 2008 by Bob Bly

Lord Kelvin, inventor of the Kelvin temperature scale, once said, “When you can measure something in numbers, then you know something about it.”

No where does his lesson have more meaning than in advertising.

A case in point: a recent column in DM News noted that the Sales Genie ad in the 2007 Superbowl was a success, generating 25,000 visits to the company’s Web site.

Well, assuming the company spent $1 million on the spot, that comes to $40 per visit.

That compares poorly to the cost per click of Google Adwords and other common methods of generating traffic.

When you apply metrics to the presidential campaign, the results are even more embarrassing for NYC’s former mayor.

According to an article in Newsweek, Rudy Giuliani spent $60 million on his failed run for the White House, collecting only a single delegate in the process.

That’s a marketing cost of $60 million per delegate — perhaps a record.


Category: General | 197 Comments »

The Death of Advertising

February 6th, 2008 by Bob Bly

Many members of the new generation of online marketers — bloggers, SEO specialists, social networkers, viral video producers — loudly and frequently proclaim that old-fashioned advertising … derisively referred to as “disruption marketing” … is dead.

Writing in DM News (2/4/08, p. 10), copywriter Dean Rieck disagrees, noting: “The disruption moniker is a pejorative way of referring to selling, and the idea of actively and ethusiastically selling is thousands of years old.”

Among Dean’s observations and conclusions:

* People love and respond to advertising far more than they’ll ever admit.
* The disruption model may be tinkered with, but it will never die.
* Selling means pushing products, and if you aren’t selling, you are out of business.

Do you think Dean has called out all the new media hypsters as the trendy phonies they are?

Or is he a relic of a bygone era, reading to sink, like a dinosaur, into the tar pits of marketing history?


Category: General | 57 Comments »

Does Experience Matter?

February 2nd, 2008 by Bob Bly

In an article in the Daily News (1/31/08) about the presidential race, Robert Dallek writes: “Obama’s lack of experience shouldn’t be a liability … judgment trumps experience, almost every time.”

But wait a minute. When you vote for a political candidate … or hire a new employee … or select a vendor to provide printing, Web design, or other services … don’t you look for someone with long experience in her field?

I know I do. I mean, if you needed brain surgery, who would you prefer — the doctor who had performed 1,000 successful operations or the resident doing his very first brain operation ever?

Today, the world seems not to value experience to the degree it did in the late 1970s, when I started out in the business world.

Back then, gray hairs were respected and viewed as having superior knowledge accumulated during decades of experience in the industry. Young managers like me in our 20’s were viewed as green behind the ears and fairly useless until we got a year or two of experience under our belts.

Today, now that I have gray haired, experience and age are NOT valued; youth is. Older workers are routinely discriminated against in the hiring process. Youth is worshipped in a tech society where a 20-something became a billionaire by inventing Facebook, something many people in my generation have never even seen, let alone comprehend.

In my experience, experience doesn’t count the way it once did. But that’s my opinion. What’s your experience?


Category: General | 114 Comments »