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Archive for September, 2009

5 Factors Affecting Your Renewal Rates

September 17th, 2009 by Bob Bly

?Renewal rates are a function of the quality of the editorial? is common advice among specialized information publishers.

It?s the truth. But it?s not the whole truth. There are 5 factors affecting your renewal rates, and the quality of the publication is only one of them ? albeit the most important one.

The 5 factors are, in order of importance (though I admit the priority is debatable):

1?Editorial ? If subscribers enjoy the newsletter and find it valuable, they will renew. If they don?t, they won?t.

And by ?valuable,? we don?t mean just good writing and good content. We mean actionable news, advice, or ideas that generate an ROI equal to many multiples of the subscription price.

2?Price ? Your subscribers want to feel they are getting a substantial discount on their renewal, preferably your lowest available rate.

You can often move some subscribers to renew now instead of later by dropping hints that the low renewal rate is a special one-time offer that may soon expire.

3?Market ? The conditions in your market can have a drastic impact on renewal rates.

Example: b-to-b newsletters earning substantial revenues from corporate site sales suffer when a recession or industry downturn causes major subscriber companies in their market to cancel subscriptions, either from cost-cutting measures or bankruptcy.

4?Acquisition promotion ? Am I saying the acquisition promotion can have a greater effect on renewal rates than the renewal promotions?

Yes. Reason: the acquisition promotion sets up certain expectations in the subscribers.

An acquisition that boosts front-end response through exaggeration or misrepresentation of what the publication actually delivers runs the risk of lowering renewal rates on the back end.

5?Renewal promotion ? Some marketers believe renewal copy makes little or no difference in renewal rates, and for them, it may.

But many other marketers get significant lifts in renewal rates by creating and mailing strong renewal efforts.


Category: General | 27 Comments »

The 4 Secrets of a Successful and Happy Life

September 16th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Decades ago, in Ted Nicholas’ newsletter, I read an article that outlined the 4 conditions required to enjoy a happy and successful life.

I have since read versions of these rules many times from numerous authors, and through this and my own limited experiences, believe them to be true.

So without further ado, here are the 4 things you need for a happy and successful life (note: the list below gives you WHAT you need, but not HOW to get them; that will be covered in upcoming blog posts):


A greater-than-average income and net worth free you from money worries, increase your self-esteem, and give you greater security and peace of mind than 97% of the rest of the world enjoys.


The second key to happiness is to find a career that you not only enjoy but are actually passionate about.

As the late Les Paul said, if you do your hobby for a living, you?ll never work a day in your life.


Your life will not be complete without friends, family, and others you care deeply about and who care deeply about you.


In a way, health is the most important of the 4 criteria, for without good health, it is exceedingly difficult to attain the other 3 ? or enjoy them if you already have them.

Are there any items here that you do not agree with? Any missing that you would add?


Category: Success | 61 Comments »

Talk About Not Going the Extra Mile….

September 14th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Eddie, a service technician from my phone company, was here today fixing my fax line.

“It seems to be working now.” the repairman told me. “Do you have any way of testing it?” he asked, which seems an odd thing for HIM to be asking ME.

“Why don’t you have your office send me a fax?” I asked him, not really understanding why this did not occur to him.

But I soon found out….

“We don’t offer that service,” he replied.

Huh? I beg your pardon — WHAT service?

Is he seriously saying that the PHONE COMPANY, of all companies, does not have the capability or the willingness to send me a ONE PAGE FAX to test their own repair work?

I told him I had never heard anything stupider, and to my surprise and delight, he agreed.

“But here’s my cell,” he said, handing me a number. “If you have a problem, call me anytime. I am almost always in the neighborhood and can be here in a flash.”

My conclusion?

Eddie did a smart thing: going around a stupid policy to make a good customer happy.

As for his employer, the phone company … they wonder why everyone you speak to in my town hates them.

Now maybe they know why….


Category: General | 26 Comments »

Do Typos Matter?

September 10th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Do typos in promotional materials matter?

I pondered this question after receiving a mailer from a local company that gives writing workshops.

In the third paragraph of a self-mailer describing their writing workshops, the copy reads: “We hold them in around a conference table in a wood-paneled office.”

Of course, it should say “We hold them around a conference table in a wood-paneled office.”

In a mailing for a writing teacher, this error stands out like a sore thumb.

But do typos like this really matter in marketing materials for other businesses?

For example, would you not hire a plumber because of a typo in his Yellow Pages ad?

Or would you refuse to visit a cosmetic dentist because of a spelling error on her web site?

Do typos matter?


Category: Writing | 69 Comments »

Generation Gap

September 9th, 2009 by Bob Bly

The other day one of my customers, a 72-year-old man, said to me: “I refuse to deal with anyone who isn’t 40 or older.”

When I asked why, he explained: “The younger generation thinks completely differently than my generation. I can’t understand them or relate to their values.”

I get what he is saying and have applied this principle to my copywriting to some extent: I tend to write only for audiences who are either like me or to whom I can relate.

I write to “grumpy old men” (males age 50 plus) because I am one.

I write to IT professionals because I have been trained as one, though did not actually work in IT.

I write to doctors because, even though I am not one, I share their interest in science and can relate to them.

I write for parents, because I am one.

I do not write for fashion, because I do not care about clothes.

I do not write copy for products aimed primarily at teens, because even though I have two, I am not one.

How about you?

Do you think people in your generation think and behave fundamentally the same as the generations before and after yours?

Or do you think the generation gap is so strong that different generations have entirely different mindsets?

Do you primarily market products for whom the target prospect is YOU?

Or do you enjoy the challenge of selling to buyers of different ages, education, and backgrounds?


Category: General | 33 Comments »

12 More Undeniable Truths of Business

September 4th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Another dozen inviolate rules of business: Are there any you would quibble with, or others you would add?

1?If you are a self-employed service provider, you can only bill for about 50% to 60% of your time. The other hours in your day are spent on non-billable tasks, including running your office, self-education, and marketing.*

2?If you sell through affiliates, 99% of your affiliate sales will come from 1% of your affiliates ? your ?super affiliates.?

3?These ?super-affiliates? should be treated as if they are your best customers ? since in a sense, they are. You should not ignore your other affiliates. But the reality is, those other affiliates will contribute virtually nothing to your revenues.

4?It costs 10X more to acquire a new customer than it does to make another sale to an existing customer. Yet most businesses focus on getting new customers to the exclusion of marketing to existing customers.

5?A customer who is mistreated or receives bad service will tell at least 5 other people.*

6?Instead of increasing your marketing efforts on products that don?t sell, you should increase your marketing on your best-selling products to make them sell even better ? or as David Ogilvy said, ?Back your winners.?

7?Robert Allen is right: your business needs multiple streams of income. If you have a single profit center and that profit center dries up, so does your income.

8?To profitably market a product through direct response, online or offline, the price of that product should be at least 8 times the cost of goods.

9?To make money online, sell lots of different products. In Internet marketing, if your goal is to make $500,000 a year, it is easier to do it with 50 web sites generating $10,000 a year each than with one web site generating half a million dollars a year.

10?Whether your goal is generating leads or orders, always offer a free bonus report or other free gift. Doing so typically increases response rates between 10% and 100%.

11?Set up your business so you can travel if you want to, but you don?t have to — ever. Few things impinge on your personal time and freedom faster than constantly being required to hop on planes at other people?s beck and call.

12?Those who position themselves as thought leaders in their fields through speaking and writing are more in demand and make more money than those who are not perceived as recognized experts in the same discipline.

*=Thanks to David Krehbiel.


Category: General | 25 Comments »

The 12 Undeniable Truths About Business

September 2nd, 2009 by Bob Bly

Here are 12 business principles I believe to be inviolate. Are there any you disagree with? Any missing that you would add?

1?The bulk of your profits will be made on the ?back end? (repeat sales to existing customers), not the ?front end? (the first sale to a new customer). Therefore, creating and selling a single product with no back-end is almost never profitable.

2?The Internet is the least effective way to market (i.e., most people don?t respond to online marketing), but it is the most efficient (i.e., because it?s so inexpensive, even a small response rate can make your promotions very profitable).

3?Simple ideas are better than complex ideas.

4?Ideas are a dime a dozen ? everyone has them, all the time.

5?Ideas without action are worthless.

6?Action creates business success, yet 99% of people never act on their ideas.

7?If you create a base of 10,000 loyal fans who each spend a hundred dollars a year with you, you will gross a million dollars a year.

8?You do not need a lot of money to launch a successful business today: the low cost of doing business on the Internet reduces your risk to easily manageable levels.

9?If you do not have a lot of money to launch your business, then you must invest a lot of your time to make it happen. You cannot start and build a successful business with neither time nor money ? you need one or the other.

10?Profitability is determined by the formula: P = S ? E: Profits equal sales minus expenses. Too many businesspeople focus on increasing S (sales), when they could be getting an equal profit boost by reducing E (expenses).

11?The ultimate measure of marketing success is ROMD ? return on marketing dollars. For every $1 spent on marketing, how much did I generate in revenues? (e.g., My e-mail marketing has an ROMD of $75 in revenues per dollar spent).

12?If you cannot accurately measure ROMD, you do not know whether your marketing is worthwhile or not. You may have a strong FEELING that it is worthwhile, and you may be right. But you don?t know.


Category: General | 74 Comments »