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Archive for September, 2008

Can You Outsource Social Networking?

September 26th, 2008 by Bob Bly

JJ, a marketing consultant who is an advocate of social media, confided in me that to get significant results takes 10 to 15 hours of participation a week — EVERY week.

For most of us, that’s time we don’t have to spare.

So I’m wondering: do you think a company or solopreneur can PAY someone to handle all of their social networking for them?

Could someone like me or you hire a consultant or freelancer to answer all the “join me as a friend” e-mails, spend the necessary hours reading and responding, keep Facebook and other profiles updated as needed, and otherwise outsource our social media marketing?

If we had to pay someone $1,000 to $2,000 a week or whatever to do this for us, would you spend the money — or would social media’s ROI suddenly become less appealing?

Would it even work? Can a “ghostnetworker” genuinely represent a client in secret and still have social media be effective — or would it be transparent and ineffective?

What say you?


Category: General | 97 Comments »

Bob Gets Bent Out of Shape About Joint Flex Commercial

September 24th, 2008 by Bob Bly

A sin to be avoided in copy is using words that remind the prospect you are in actuality selling a product, not just educating or helping him out of the kindness of your heart.

One of the words on my forbidden list is “product.” Today I heard a radio spot for Joint Flex, an arthritis supplement, that repeats the word many times.

The announcer says: “Doctors love the product, patients love the product, you will love the product.”

Why call it “the product”? Why not be more specific and use the name?

My rewrite: “Doctors love Joint Flex, patients love Joint Flex, you will love Joint Flex.”

A yacht salesman refers to his top-of-the-line model as a “yacht” or “she.”

A car salesman refers to a sports car as a sports car, automobile, or “a beauty.”

You never hear a good salesperson say “our product” or “my product.”

Neither should a good copywriter.

“Product” instantly breaks the spell of enticing copy and says to the prospect, “Don’t forget, we want your money.”


Category: General | 47 Comments »

Does Robert Scoble REALLY Need 600 News Feeds?

September 22nd, 2008 by Bob Bly

In his October 2008 Fast Company column, Robert “Odd Bob” Scoble says he will never buy another physical newspaper again in his life but instead subscribes to more than 600 news feeds in Google Reader.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to look at 600 of ANYTHING — let alone RSS or Google feeds.

I was thinking of telling Robert to do what I do: look through a daily newspaper for 10-15 minutes each month to find items of interest, and supplement with Google searches for facts and news you need right now.

Advantages of a real newspaper over Google Reader:

1. You get to read nice large type in print instead of tiny type on a screen.
2. It’s portable. You can carry the news with you without a power supply or gadget.
3. You can rip out articles of interest for passing along or filing.
4. It’s fun, entertaining, and relaxing. Do it while you eat breakfast or lunch.
5. It gives you clear coverage at just the right level of information density of what happened within the last 24 hours (for news in real time, I go to
6. The newspaper is delivered free to my front door every morning.

One newspaper — or 600 news feeds? Which would you prefer?


Category: General | 43 Comments »

Are You Addicted to Your BlackBerry?

September 15th, 2008 by Bob Bly

Not me, because I don’t carry a BlackBerry, BlueTooth, wireless laptop, or even a cell phone — no PDA, no beeper, no mobile technology of any kind.

But that’s because I’m not mobile; I’m here at this PC 12 hours a day, and at home the rest of the time. I don’t travel.

But I’m in the minority. According to a survey of 6,500 executives, conducted for Sheraton Hotels and reported in the Daily News (9/15/08):

>> 85% of professionals feel compelled to be on call around the clock.

>> 85% occasionally get up in the middle of the night to check their e-mail.

>> 87% bring their BlackBerrys into the bedroom at night, and 84% check their e-mail right before going to sleep.

Barbara Ehrenreich, in her essay “The Cult of Busyness,” said that being busy has become the new status symbol, more than cars, homes, clothes, or money.

And although if I was a road warrior, I think I WOULD carry at least a cell phone and maybe a BlackBerry or wireless laptop, or both ….

I can’t help wandering if carrying all this mobile technology reflects a subtle or even unconscious desire to show off how busy or important we are to others (like not wanting to be the only business person not doing work on the airplane).

What wireless gadgets do YOU carry?

Do they really make you more productive?

Or make you feel more important (come on, admit it!)?

Do they add to or relieve stress?


Category: General | 170 Comments »

Does “Article Marketing” Work?

September 11th, 2008 by Bob Bly

A popular piece of advice given by Internet marketing gurus is to market yourself by writing and posting articles on article submission sites such as

The idea is to write a zillion articles, post them all over the Internet, and generate a ton of traffic as people who read your articles click on the link to your site in your bio or resource box at the end of the article.

Oddly, though, while this “marketing with articles” approach is widely recommended and sounds sensible, almost no one I know actually does it.

The usual reason given: “I know I should, but who has the time?” — the implication being that article marketing is a low priority compared to PPC advertising, SEO, e-mail, and other online tactics that presumably have better ROI.

Are YOU one of the smart minority of marketers who actively markets by writing and posting short articles at all of the online article directories?

If so, how do you manage to get it all done? Not just producing all those articles, but posting them on all those sites and tracking the results?

And speaking of tracking results, does article marketing give you a big ROI? Or is it a marginal marketing activity at best?

Does the quality of the content in the articles matter at all? Or does article marketing work just as well with crappy articles you pay some elancer to write for you for $25 a pop?


Category: General | 96 Comments »

My Dispute with Angus

September 9th, 2008 by Bob Bly

A few minutes ago I got an e-mail from Angus, one of my e-zine subscribers, who objected to the frequency with which I send e-mail marketing messages to him.

“I don’t mind getting your offers, but you are sending too f@#$%ing many,” said Andre (using the F-word).

I replied, “There is no need to use abusive language with me” and told him I would unsubscribe him immediately.

He replied that I was coming off to him as “rude” and “thin-skinned.”

Folks, I think we have entered the Twilight Zone here.

This guy e-mails me an e-mail with an obscenity … but it’s ME, not him, who’s rude?

Anybody see a disconnect here?

There are many things I love about the Internet.

But one thing I dislike is how the anonymity of e-mail emboldens some folks to lose all inhibition, and say anything they please — things they would never dream of saying face to face unless they were looking to start an altercation.

Am I right saying that Angus, not me, is the rude one here?

Or am I so out of touch that Netiquette today says it’s fine to use profanities when e-mailing strangers?


Category: General | 47 Comments »

Help Me Find My “Missing” Copywriting Formula

September 5th, 2008 by Bob Bly

In my long copywriting career, I must have come across two dozen “formulas” for writing copy.

The most famous one is AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action). There was another one called Star Hook Chain, though I can’t remember that that meant. As for the other copywriting formulas, the rest have largely faded from my mind. And that’s where you can help me and other readers of this blog interested in writing persuasive copy.

Can you, in a comment on this post, share with us any of the lost copywriting formulas — perhaps one you use yourself, or maybe just one you remember?

My recollection is that most of those old formulas made a lot of sense, and all copywriters today could profit from them — if only we knew what they are.


Category: General | 93 Comments »

Where Starbucks Fails

September 1st, 2008 by Bob Bly

Starbucks mission statement, according to their Web site, is to “develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.”

If that’s so, can anyone answer me why none of the Starbucks in my area can give me a slice of lemon with my iced tea?

I mean, that’s a pretty reasonable request, right? Even Wendy’s, purveyor of crappy fast food, serves iced tea with fresh lemon slices.

But when I accompany my wife to Starbucks, which she loves for the coffee, the only way I can get lemon flavor in my iced tea is to have lemonade added to it — because none of the Starbucks she goes to carries actual lemon.

Seems to me this is a serious mission disconnect for a company with the rather modest goal of giving people drinks they like.

One of the Starbucks here has a sign that says to speak up if your drink isn’t “perfect.” When I do, I get a shrug, a smile, and an apology — but no lemon.

I wouldn’t make noise about this, except so many hold Starbucks up as an example of business brilliance, and this rather obvious service flaw makes me wonder why.


Category: General | 133 Comments »