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Archive for April, 2009

Who Are You Writing for — Your Prospects or Google?

April 30th, 2009 by Bob Bly

The problem with SEO copywriting is that the mandate to use keywords according to various rules set forth by SEO experts can result in awkward, ineffective, suboptimal copy.

“It is essential to attempt to optimize online copy for relevant keywords to achieve a better search engine placement,” writes Don Libey, a multi-channel marketing expert.

“However,” LIbey continues, “keywords aren’t necessarily the most important part of copywriting.”

He warns against keyword stuffing, the practice of cramming too many keywords into a web page.

“Your customers are the readers,” says Libey. “Never place the search engine’s needs about theirs.”

My guess is that those of you who are copywriters — even SEO copywriters — will agree with Libey, while those of you who are SEO consultants might not.

Am I right or am I wrong? What say you?

Source: Libey Multichannel Advisor, May 2009, page 8.


Category: General | 61 Comments »

Stupid Recession-Fighting Business Tricks

April 27th, 2009 by Bob Bly

During a recession, many businesses experience a decrease in revenues.

Amazingly, a number are implementing what has to be the stupidest recession-fighting business strategy ever devised: charging customers MORE to make up for the lost revenue.

An article in the Daily News (4/27/09, p. 4) reports that Bobo, a Manhattan restaurant, now charges patrons a dollar for a glass of water.

They justify this by saying that the water is filtered, and the charge is for the cost of the filtering.

The same article also reports that Morton’s, a steak house, has added a $2.50 charge if you want ice in your cocktail.

Another NYC eatery has added a $5 charge for bread and butter, justifying the move by noting they have a famous baker baking their bread.

If you have heard recession-fighting business strategies stupider than these, I’d like to know what they are.

And what would you tell these restaurants if you went to eat there and found these charges on your bill (some post the charges on menus but do not have waiters warn patrons about them)?


Category: General | 94 Comments »

Becoming a Freelance Copywriter After 50

April 21st, 2009 by Bob Bly

CH, a downsized banker, asked me about the feasibility of changing careers and becoming a freelance copywriter. He is 52.

Starting as a freelance copywriter after 50 is something I can’t advise him on with personal authority, since I started as a full-time freelance copywriter when I was 22.

“Is it harder or easier to establish a successful career as a freelance copywriter at my age, 52?” he asked me. “Is my age an advantage (more life experience) or disadvantage (too old, competing with people half my age)?”

I’d love to hear from you if you are a freelance copywriter who started at age 50 or later (and also if you started recently at a younger age, too).

Should CH pursue freelance copywriting as a means of paying the mortgage — or is it too late for him and the rest of us who have passed the half-century mark?

What say you?


Category: Writing | 77 Comments »

Don’t ASSume

April 17th, 2009 by Bob Bly

In an episode of the Odd Couple TV show, Felix Unger once said: “When you ASSUME, you make an ASS of U and ME!”

I agree wrong assumptions can make you look like an ass … not sure it does that to the other guy.

Example: cowardly RT left a voice mail message (but not his phone #) calling me an Internet fake.

Apparently, he looked up my address at 22 E. Quackenbush Avenue, Dumont, NJ 07628 on that Google satellite service.

“You’re not RICH!” he said contemptuosly (never said I was). “Your place is a dump!”

One little problem, RT: 22 E. Quackenbush is the building where I rent an office — NOT where I live.

So you can’t tell ANYTHING about me or my success or net worth by looking at it.

See what happens when you ASSUME, and think you’re a smartie because you used Google to spy cam me?

You come off looking like an ASS … and I don’t.


Category: General | 294 Comments »

Where Will They See Your Commercial — TV or YouTube?

April 15th, 2009 by Bob Bly

The Internet is where it’s at in marketing today, and online video is exploding.

But a study from the Council for Research Excellence concludes that “TV is still by far the most popular medium for all consumers, both young and old.”

The study found that the average consumer spends only 2 minutes a day watching free TV via the Internet.

But those same consumers are exposed to “roughly an hour a day of advertising and promotions” on regular TV.

Conclusion: the death of TV as an advertising medium, even with Tivo, is greatly exaggerated.

Source: The Talon Newsletter, 4/09, p. 3.


Category: General | 124 Comments »

B2B Prospects Prefer Print to Online

April 14th, 2009 by Bob Bly

A survey of 741 small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) by Breeding Business Information (BBI) revealed that SMBs prefer print over the Internet as a source of product information.

Of the B2B prospects surveyed, 43% said they rely most on magazine articles and direct mail to learn about products.

Only 27.8% prefer social networking as a source of product information, and just 19.2% like podcasts.

The lesson?

Don’t believe the new media evangelists and techno hipsters who say that, for B2B marketing, print is dead and all your marketing should be online.

They might believe every B2B prospect on the planet Twitters and uses Facebook.

But your serious prospects are reading trade journals, the BBI survey found.

So you ignore print at your peril.


Source: DM News, 4/6/01, p. 1.


Category: Online Marketing | 49 Comments »

Stop Bloggers from Trashing Your Product

April 8th, 2009 by Bob Bly

As I see it, the potential of blogging as a negative force hurting your product sales is actually greater than its potential as a positive force spurring sales.

A case in point: In 2006, Dell determined that 48% of the comments posted about the company online were negative.

To combat this bad blogosphere PR, Dell started a corporate blog, set up a blog monitoring program, and began to do outreach to bloggers.

Two years later, the percentage of blog posts that were negative about Dell had dropped to a little over 20%.

If I were a major consumer brand, I would have someone in the organization monitor what bloggers are saying about the products — and reach out to them to correct any factual errors or misconceptions.

Do you think that would work?

Or would it fail because (a) some bloggers have a chip on their shoulder while others (b) would view it as manipulative and violating netiquette?


Category: General | 99 Comments »

Are Your Customers Tightening Their Belts?

April 2nd, 2009 by Bob Bly

Yes, according to a March 2009 survey of 2,005 U.S. adults (DM News, 3/30/09, p. 7).

Of those surveyed, 84% said they are concerned abou the economic recession and have cut back their spending.

Only 14% of consumers said they are not concerned about the economy (and 1% said they didn’t know).

In my little online publishing business, we hear our customers voicing similar concerns.

These days they overwhelmingly favor our low-priced (under $100) information products, although we still sell respectable amounts of mid and even high-priced items.

Customers also demand that our products deliver the value they paid for. While our refund rates on mid and high-priced products are still low (less than 5%), they are triple what they were a year ago (1.5% then vs. 4.5% today).

Instead of keeping the audio or DVD album, the customer now considers that he has already listened to or watched the program once and may not ever again. By returning the item, he can save $100 or more. And in today’s economy, that’s more tempting than when folks were flush.

Tell me how the recession is affecting your business, and I’ll give you a free copy of my special report “15 Recession-Proof Business Strategies” (value: $29). Just click here to get started:


Category: General | 52 Comments »