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Archive for December, 2008

Making Sense of Social Networking

December 30th, 2008 by Bob Bly

I am convinced (though I don’t do it myself) that social networking has value.

But what no social networking expert has come up with yet (in my opinion) is a plan to make social networking manageable, so it delivers a higher ROTI (return on time invested).

Maybe together we can come up with such a plan on this blog, if you would be kind enough to post answers to 2 questions I have:

1. How much time per day (or per week) do you spend on social networking to make it really deliver positive results for you?

2. There are so many alternatives for social networking (e.g., Twitter, Squidoo, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.). What is your favorite (or maybe your top 2-3) and what is the best way to use it?

My goal is to come up with a definitive, step-by-step plan to marketing and promotion with social networking — something like “Social Networking Success in Just 21 Minutes a Day.”

(Of course you can read the results free here.)

Can we do it?


Category: General | 70 Comments »

What Did CNN Mean to Say?

December 23rd, 2008 by Bob Bly

A story headline on today reads:

“Shirtless Obama snapped on beach.”

For a second, I envisioned Obama running around on a beach without a shirt in the winter, having snapped under the strain of the looming presidency, gone completely insane.

A second later, I realized the headline meant that he had been “snapped” — his picture taken by a photographer.

This reminds me of an old article telling about a priest who enjoyed contemplative thought while standing under the stars at night in front of his church.

The article said, “The minister was drinking in the night air.”

His parishioners thought he had become a lush.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “It is not enough to write so you can be understood. You must write so that you cannot be misunderstood.”


Category: General | 57 Comments »

Should You Avoid “Free” In E-Mail Subject Lines?

December 18th, 2008 by Bob Bly

The frustrating thing about learning Internet marketing is that when you ask gurus for advice, they give different answers.

When I asked BJ, a successful information marketer, he was quite firmly against “free” in e-mail subject lines.

“We have found it is a no-no to use FREE in the subject line,” says BJ. “FREE is a tremendous spam flag in most systems.”

You can’t fool the spam filters by using “f-r-e-e” or “F*ree” or other variations, according to BJ.

“They are way ahead of you on that and in most cases it hurts you more because they see that as a blatant ploy to try to fake them out.”

On the other hand, AA, a respected Internet marketing consultant, says “FREE can and does work … in fact, most of our clients have at least one control subject line with FREE in it.”

“Way back when, there were a ton of rules about what you could and couldn’t do when it came to subject lines,” says AA. “All of these rules have pretty much been thrown out the window.”

Of course, you can say “test it.” In one test, a list brokerage promoting its service did an A/B split test with 2 subject lines: (a) “Boost sales, increase profits, and expand market awareness” vs . (b) “FREE Direct Mail Encyclopedia.”

The “FREE Direct Mail Encylopedia” generated 25% more click-throughs than “A.”

What happened? Obviously, the increased response produced with a free offer far outweighed the negative effective on clicks caused by triggering spam filters, resulting in a net click-through-rate gain.

What about you? Have YOU tested “free” in e-mail subject lines? Does it work for you?

P.S. By the way, according to a recent study from Datran Media, 83% of marketers surveyed said that e-mail marketing — not blogging, social networking, or banner advertising — is their most important advertising medium.


Category: General | 55 Comments »

Does It Pay to Complain About Bad Products or Services?

December 17th, 2008 by Bob Bly

I always feel awkward when I have a bad meal in a restaurant and the server asks, “How’s everything?”

I get the feeling that the question is no more sincere than the telemarketer who asks “How are you today?”

It’s just polite talk. They don’t really want or care about the answer.

I never complain, but on a couple of occasions, we were out to dinner with other couples who did complain.

The first time, when our friend SH said his steak wasn’t good, the manager argued: “Our steaks are great. How dare you insult my food!”

“Then why did you ask me in the first place?” SH answered.

The other time, my friend DY told the manager, “The food was good, but the service was glacial (meaning slow).”

Instead of apologizing, the manager angrily said to all of us, “Please don’t come back here again!”

And again I wondered, “If he didn’t want to hear the real answer, why did he ask in the first place?”

Do YOU regularly ask your customers or clients whether they are satisfied with your products and services?

If you do, and they complain, do you really listen? Do you respond politely and helpfully, and offer to make things right?

Or like the restaurant manager who told us never to come back, do you instantly get angry and resentful? And is your anger obvious to your customer?

A few suggestions for handling dissatisfied customers:

** Give them a refund — even if they didn’t ask for it, even if the guarantee has expired.
** Apologize. Express regret that their experience wasn’t excellent.
** Ask them what they didn’t like.
** Give them a small free gift as compensation.


Category: General | 53 Comments »

My Favorite Online List-Building Strategy

December 9th, 2008 by Bob Bly

***My favorite online list-building strategy***

In traditional marketing, a ?loss leader? is a product you sell at cost or at a lost to get new customers.

I?ve adapted this strategy to the Internet, and the first time I used it, I added 946 new customers to my e-list, at zero marketing cost, within one week.

And unlike Google pay-per-click campaigns, which generate new subscribers who just want free stuff from you, all the names added to your list with my Loss Leader Strategy are actually proven buyers — making them that much more valuable to you!

This list-building strategy is extremely easy to use and costs you nothing out of pocket.

Another thing that’s great about the Loss Leader Strategy is that very few people know about it and almost no one is using it online, so it?s still relatively fresh and new.

To get my new Special Report on ?The Internet Loss Leader Strategy,? just click below now; you won?t be required to give me your e-mail address or any other information about yourself:


Category: General | 60 Comments »

21 Secrets of Freelance Copywriting Success

December 2nd, 2008 by Bob Bly

1?Work with clients whom you genuinely like ? or at least have good personal chemistry with.

2?Your freelance copywriting business exists to serve your clients. Without them, you?d starve.

3?If you want to have the final say on your copy without being told what to say and how to write it, market your own line of products, and make yourself your primary copywriting client.

4?Do not promise your copy will generate a specific result. It is unethical and not true: no one can guarantee a particular response rate.

5?Proofread every piece of copy before you send it to the client. I recommending hiring a freelance proofreader; it is difficult to proof your own copy well.

6?When can you raise your fees? When you have so much business that you can afford to lose clients who are not willing to pay the higher fees.

7?Use a standard PC with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and other standard software packages. Don?t write on oddball word processors, use antiquated software, or send nonstandard file formats that your clients can?t open and read.

8?Number each page in your copy manuscript, so that if the pages get separated, you can easily put them in order. Also, in a discussion, it lets you and the client reference sections on specific pages.

9?The easiest way to prevent yourself from getting ripped off by deadbeats is to demand half your fee in advance before you even start the job.

10?Never work without a written contract that the client has signed off on. Verbal go-aheads are not enough.

11?Trust your instincts. If you have a bad feeling about a client or a project, turn it down. Your gut feelings are right 95% of the time.

12?Be humble, not arrogant. If you are a nice person and your copy doesn?t work, the client will give you another chance. But if you are a jerk and your copy flops, you?re out.

13?Find a peer or someone else whose judgment you trust. Give the headline and lead of every promotion you write (the first page or two will usually suffice) to that outside reader for a second opinion. Never send out copy that at least one person other than you, even your spouse, has read and commented on.

14?Use more charts and graphs in your copy to support your key claims. Even when the reader doesn?t really understand a chart or graph, the fact that there IS a chart or graph helps convince them that what you say must be true.

15?Keep up-to-date in your field ? both in marketing as well as the topics (e.g., health, investments) you write about.

16?The only way to become a better writer is to read and to write. Read and write every day. Read magazines, newspapers, and books during your leisure time.

17?Get up early and dive into your toughest copywriting assignment first thing in the morning, without delay. Work until you tire. In the afternoons, you can tackle less demanding tasks like reading background material or answering e-mails.

18?Create a workspace that is comfortable, isolated, and quiet. Barking dogs, ringing door bells, TV in the background, and screaming kids all harm your productivity.

19?Give yourself small rewards throughout the day for accomplishing various work-related tasks; e.g., going out to a coffee shop for lunch instead of eating at your desk.

20?While negotiating the work agreement with your client, ask for at least a week more than you need. As a corollary, never accept jobs that must be started and finished overnight.

21?Don?t take it personally when a client calls and says ?I don?t like the copy.? Instead say: ?I want to make it as strong as we can. Tell me your thoughts and suggestions.?

Do you agree with the items in this list? Are there any you can add?


Category: General | 189 Comments »

What’s More Important: Copy or Design?

December 1st, 2008 by Bob Bly

When the ad’s intent is to generate a response, copy trumps art, says marketing consultant Ruth Stevens, writing in Direct (12/08, p. 16).

In a visual society, why is copy more important than graphics?

“When the ad’s intent is to motivate a response, it’s about selling, persuasion, and the call to action,” writes Stevens. “These appeals are delivered in words and sentences.”

According to Stevens, that makes copywriters more important than designers in marketing.

“The great direct response creative directors are all from the copy side,” she says. “Art directors are their partners, but the copywriters rule the roost.”

Do these statements strike you as a tad controversial or confrontational?

Is copy really more important than design in direct marketing, online or offline?

If so, is the contribution of the copywriter more important than the contribution of the graphic artist in direct marketing?

Or is even discussing the issue counter-productive? Is it more accurate — and useful — to say each is important, and each depends upon the other for success?


Category: General | 64 Comments »