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Archive for March, 2009

Are You in Marketing Because You Can’t Sell?

March 31st, 2009 by Bob Bly

I saw in e-mail exchange today between a famous sales trainer and a successful information markter and copywriter.

In it, the sales trainer arrogantly proclaimed: “Marketing is for people who can’t sell.”

I’ve heard this many times before.

When I was in the corporate world, the sales force and the marcom department often had an adversarial relationship.

It was mainly based on salespeople not believing that marketing has value — and the marketing people resenting that snobby attitude.

The sales trainer who said “marketing is for people that can’t sell,” by the way, is a guy who actively teaches cold calling.

In essence, he advocates calling people who do not know you, interrupting them at work or at home, and pressing them into buying from a total stranger (you).

I much prefer marketing, in which I follow The Silver Rule, a principle first articulated to me by consultant Pete Silver.

The Silver Rule says that it is better for prospects to come to you than for you to go to them.

Cold-calling selling completely violates this rule.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather spend my time talking to potential clients who call me or e-mail me because, thanks to a referral or my reputation, they are interested in hiring me.

I mean, if you just pick up the phone and cold call strangers, these strangers must certainly wonder how busy and successful you really are. After all, aren’t you spending your day dialing numbers in a prospecting directory? I can’t imagine Tom Peters or Seth Godin doing that.

Wouldn’t prospects rather buy from someone they consider a busy and successful expert and authority than a salesman calling them cold over the phone?

Wouldn’t YOU, Mr. Famous Sales Trainer, who says marketing is for people that can’t sell?

Wouldn’t you, Gentle Reader?


Category: General | 52 Comments »

YOU — a Highly Paid Blogger?

March 30th, 2009 by Bob Bly

We constantly hear about this blogger or that blogger getting paid big bucks to blog or landing a lucrative book deal based on their blog (I actually did the latter myself).

But these lucky rich bloggers are decidedly the exception, not the rule.

According to an article in the Daily News (3/30/09, p. 35), the median income of bloggers who seek to monetize their blogs is $200 a year.

As a rule, you can make serious money blogging only if you have a lot of subscribers to your blog via RSS feed.

The article notes that for bloggers who have 100,000 subscribers or more, the median income soars to $75,000 a year — pretty darn good for an activity you do only a few hours a week.

Of course, the really smart thing is to get other people to write your blog for you, pay them nothing, and get rich on the advertising,

An article in Time noted that Huffington Post has 3,000 unpaid bloggers — and that the site, filled with content created largely by those bloggers and other sources Huffington does not pay, is worth a staggering $90 million.

Obviously I am doing something wrong.

Anybody out there making a LOT of money from your blog?

Care to share with the rest of us how you did it?


Category: General | 48 Comments »

New Survey Reveals Social Networking is Too Time-Consuming

March 24th, 2009 by Bob Bly

I have always contended that social networking is not a cost-effective use of the solopreneur’s time.

Now data from a new survey by Michael Stelzner confirms it.

According to the survey, people who have been using social media for a long time spend on average more than 20 hours a week on social networks.

Now, if you are a solopreneur working 40 hours a week, that means you’d spend half your working time on social networks — clearly impractical for self-employed people who valuable their billable time and productivity.

No wonder the survey notes that those working for a company are twice as likely as business owners to spend 20+ hours a week on social networks.

My conclusion: while social networking requires a minimal investment of money, the low ROTI (return on time invested) limits its desirability as a marketing activity for self-employed professionals.

How much time do YOU spend a week with social media?

Do you measure the ROTI — and find it worth the time invested?

Which social networking sites and activities account for the bulk of your time spend with these media?

Get the survey report here:


Category: Online Marketing | 79 Comments »

The End of Western Civilization as We Know It?

March 23rd, 2009 by Bob Bly

For more than 4 decades, one of my favorite activities and greatest pleasures has been reading the newspaper.

Yet according to an article on today, at least 120 U.S. newspapers have shut down since January 2008.

“Newspapers are losing their relevance in the lives of a majority of Americans,” — an online news service — smugly proclaims.

My own kids get their info online and on TV. They don’t read the newspaper, even with daily deliver of a newspaper on our front lawn.

I read news every day online at, the page on which my web browser is set to open — and I love it.

But I also love reading the newspaper at the lunch counter where I have my tuna sandwich each day … or at the kitchen table on weekend mornings over scrambled eggs and coffee.

This is a singular experience — peaceful, comforting, and entertaining — which seems to be lost on young people today.

I am wondering: if you are under 50, do you read news online only … and are newspapers not part of your information mix?

If you are 50 or older, like I am, do you still cling to your newspaper habit — or have you given it up for lent?


Category: Writing and the Internet | 51 Comments »

What’s Your Back-Up Plan?

March 19th, 2009 by Bob Bly

In the movie ?Armageddon,? a giant asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, and when it hits, the impact will annihilate everything on the planet.

The government?s solution?

Send a team of drilling experts up into outer space to land on the asteroid.

Their mission: drill a deep hole into its core, drop an atom bomb down the hole, and detonate it, blowing the asteroid to smithereens.

Only problem is, Bruce Willis, the leader of the drill team, thinks the chances of success are slim.

?What?s your back-up plan?? he asks Billy Bob Thorton, his NASA liaison.

?Back-up plan?? Thorton. ?There?s no back-up plan. This is the only plan we have.?

Most of us are like Billy Bob, in that ? in business, career, and life ? we have no back up plan.

But we should.

None of these guys had a back-up plan:

** AH went into computer programming in the 1980s when it was a booming profession, and was quickly earning a six-figure salary. Within a few years, his job got outsourced to India, and the salary he was offered for another IT job was less than half his current pay.

** PM worked as a manager for a local family-owned business. One day the boss called him in and said: ?Times are tough, and to keep you, I have to reduce your salary by 40%. I know you?ll understand.? PM quit the next day.

** HR had a comfortable job as a hospital administrator until he was downsized. To his amazement, he found himself unqualified for any other work ? and after months of fruitless job searching, had to raise cash to live on by selling off his prized collection of antiquarian books.

** DM earned a decent living as a woodworker. But the constant exposure to sawdust and varnish was making him sick, to the point where he could not continue to earn a living in the only profession he was trained for.

** BD spent months developing a piece of software that was going to revolutionize the Internet marketing world and make him rich in the process. Last month, Google announced they were offering virtually the same software ? for free.

Most of us think bad things can never happen ? or that they only happen to ?the other guy.?

But what happens when we become ? ?the other guy??

You ? and I ? need a ?back-up plan.?

This could be:

1. Buying income-producing real-estate and other appreciating assets. Invest prudently and build your net worth to the point where you can live off your real estate and other investments.

2. Learn a second skill or profession. DM learned copywriting and today earns $400,000 a year as a freelance copywriter.

3. Create and sell a line of products ? anything from candles and perfume to exercise videos and how-to books.

4. Collecting a sizeable inheritance that will enable you to live the life of a gentleman or lady of leisure.

5. Marrying a spouse with a good income who will support you in the style to which you have become accustomed.

Of these options, my own back-up plan is #3 (mainly because #4 and #5 didn?t pan out).

A few years ago, I began to think, ?What if something happens to me so that I am unable to continue making a living as a freelance writer??

So I started my own Internet marketing business creating and selling information products ? e-books, audios, and videos ? online.

Today, my little Internet marketing business generates a six-figure income for me ? and yet I spend only an hour or two a day on it!

Do you have a back-up plan? If not, do you intend to put one into place soon?


Category: General | 40 Comments »

Must You Always Be Closing?

March 17th, 2009 by Bob Bly

In the movie “Boiler Room,” Ben Affleck plays the head recruiter at a sleazy boiler-room selling worthless IPOs by cold-calling investor lists.

When he hears a broker-in-training patiently explaining some investment basics to a potential customer, Ben berates the young broker.

“Telling’s not selling!” he screams. “Always be closing!”

The idea, still preached by some old-line salespeople, is that the salesperson must always push the prospect toward an order … and anything else is a waste of time.

While that attitude today is viewed by many as antiquated, do you think there is some truth in it?

A case in point is SA, a personal real estate agent I know.

SA is always willing to lend a hand to colleagues and clients in need. He can frequently be found moving furniture or cleaning out a house.

SA is a nice guy. Everybody says so. Everybody likes him.

Yet SA, afraid of being viewed as too pushy, is extremely reluctant to qualify prospects very hard … or to push buyers he is working with into a decision.

As a result of his inability to ask for the order or be selective in who he works with and how much he will do for them, his income is minimal and, at age 52, he has a net worth of a little over zero.

So while asking for the order may seem unfashionable in this era of soclal-media, free-content-driven marketing, isn’t qualifying prospects and closing the sale ultimately something we have to be good at — online or offline — to get the business?

Or is simply being a nice guy (like SA), a respected expert, or a helpful resource enough to get prospects to buy from you — and not from your competitors?


Category: General | 178 Comments »

Maximize Online Marketing ROI

March 16th, 2009 by Bob Bly

What online marketing technique generates the highest ROI for customer acquisition?

According to a survey published in Target Marketing (3/09, p. 37), it’s not online advertising, podcasts, search engine optimization, or webcasts.

E-mail marketing was cited by 28% of the marketing professionals ls urveyed as delivering the strongest ROI for customer acquisition online.

Search engine optimization came in a distant second at 7%.

Given that something like 80% of online purchases begin with an online search, I find this result surprising — and a bit suspicious, to say the least.

Your thoughts?

BTW, e-mail was also voted #1 for customer retention online, at 39%. This I find more credible: there is no better way of communicating with existing customers than e-mail.


Category: General | 54 Comments »

Selling from the Platform

March 13th, 2009 by Bob Bly

“Why don’t you sell products from the platform?” my fellow speakers ask me all the time. “You are leaving money on the table.”

My original answer — that I just don’t like it personally and find it unseemly — didn’t convince them.

“There is nothing wrong with selling from the platform,” these speakers responded.

They pointed out that many conferences don’t pay the speakers a fee or even cover their expenses.

So as a result, they, as speakers, have a “right” to pitch their products. “It’s how we make our money and get compensated for our time.”

“How could you object to selling?” they ask me. “You are a copywriter. It is your job to sell.”

But here’s the problem….

If I write a hard-sell e-mail, and you are not interested, you can delete it in less than a second with a mouse click.

If I write a hard-sell direct mail sales letter, you can tear it up and throw it in the trash — in less than 5 seconds.

But when a speaker sells products from the platform, I can’t escape! I am in the seminar room. If I got up and walked out, it would seem incredibly rude.

So I am forced to listen as the speaker drones on and on about his “big package” which is worth $68,458, normally sells for $14,997, but if I buy within the next hour is only $2,777.

As for the argument that the speaker is unpaid by the seminar promoter, how is that my problem or my concern?

I paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for my seat at that seminar. Shouldn’t the platform time be devoted 100% to educating me, not 80% to educating me and 20% to selling me more stuff?

I am least offended by the sales pitch when, proceeding it, the speaker has delivered genuine value and real content, without holding back.

I am most offended when the entire presentation is clearly crafted not to educate me, but to tease the audience and maximize orders for the big package the speaker is selling.

How about you? Are you offended or turned off when a speaker begins to transition into his sales pitch, which he delivers on your time?

Or do you cheerfully accept it as a standard operating procedure in the seminar business today?


Category: General | 124 Comments »