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Archive for November, 2009

The Power of Negative Thinking

November 26th, 2009 by Bob Bly

In her new book Bright-Sided, Barbara Ehrenreich makes clear she is not a fan of the law of attraction, and says that positive thinking is a “mass delusion.”

She also says the notion that our thoughts can directly affect the physical world is irrational.

To believe in the power of positive thinking, writes Ehrenreich, “requires deliberate self-deception, including a constant effort to repress or block out unpleasant possibilities and negative thoughts … [positive thinking] encourages us to deny reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune, and blame only ourselves for our fate.”

Even Martin Seligman, author of “Learned Optimism” and a proponent of positive thinking, noted in his book that the one advantage pessimists have over optimists is that their thinking is more realistic and therefore they are better equipped to handle life’s disappointments.

How about you? Are you a:

A. positive thinker …
B. realistic pessimist …
C. somewhere in between?


Category: General | 75 Comments »

You’re the Greatest? Well, Who Says So?

November 22nd, 2009 by Bob Bly

I got an email from a copywriter today who claims he has been called ?the best copywriter on the Web? ? but he doesn?t say who called him that.

He also says his course on copywriting has been praised as the ?Bible? of web copywriting ? but he doesn?t say who called gave him that testimonial.

If you are going to quote favorable comments about you or your product ? especially those with huge claims and superlatives ? you should attribute each comment to a source.

Otherwise, the reader tends to doubt the truth of what you are saying ? and it looks like YOU are just saying these things about yourself.

Am I right?


Category: General | 604 Comments »

Don?t Blow PR Opportunities

November 20th, 2009 by Bob Bly

The other day, I asked someone for permission to reprint a short tip of hers in one of my books.

?Fine,? she said. ?As long as you credit me as the source.?

?Sure,? I replied.

?And include a link to my site,? she instructed.

?Of course,? I said.

?And run my full bio in the back of your book.?

Huh? I thought to myself.

?And I need to see the entire chapter with my article so I can review the context in which you are placing my material,? she demanded.


?And when you first mention me, give the name of my consulting company and a description of our services.?

Oh, really?

Almost needless to say, I thanked her politely for her time, ended the call, and her article will not appear in my books.

The lesson:

The more conditions you place on usage of your content, the less chance there is of your material being used.

When I am in the role of content author dealing with a publisher, I ask only that the publisher credit me as the source and include a link to my web site URL.

I make no other demands or conditions.

When YOU are a content author seeking distribution of your materials, only ask for credit and for a hyperlink to your site.

The easier you make it for others to use your content, the more of your content they will use.


Category: PR | 72 Comments »

Why Are You Self-Employed?

November 18th, 2009 by Bob Bly

According to the Enterprise Council on Small Business (BtoB, 11/16/09, p. 21), entrepreneurs become self-employed for one of 3 reasons:

>> 74% want to be able to earn their living through a specific skill or activity they are good at or enjoy; e.g., photography, woodworking, writing, web site design, public speaking.

>> 24% are corporate refugees who became self-employed to escape life in a big organization.

>> 2% are motivated by growth, achievement, and the thrill of running and building a business.

Which of the above is YOUR motivation?

Or are you self-employed for a reason not on this list?


Category: General | 113 Comments »

What I Won’t and Will Do for Free for You

November 15th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Every day readers contact me and ask for favors for which they do not want to pay me.

If you are one, here?s what I won?t and will do for you for free:

1?I won?t look at your web site and give you my comments or thoughts.

2?I will briefly reply personally (not an auto-responder or an assistant, but me) to any e-mail that logically seeks or requires a response.

3?I won?t read your sales letter, resume, or other copy you have written.

4?I won?t have lunch or coffee with you. (Amazing how many people expect me to give up over a thousand dollars worth of my billable time in exchange for buying me a grilled cheese sandwich.)

5?I will answer brief questions via phone or e-mail at no charge.

6?I won?t give you a free copy of one of my books or products because you plead hardship, unless you send me papers proving you have filed bankruptcy ? in which case I will.

7?I will refer you to qualified experts or vendors who can provide services you may need ? again at no charge (I accept no referral fee).

8?I won?t read or review your book or e-book manuscript. I want to (I love to read and collect books), but I simply do not have the time.

9?I won?t speak at or come to your club or organization?s meeting.

10?I will allow you to reprint some of my content on your site or elsewhere at no charge, as long as you credit me as the source and include a link to my web site.

11–I am highly unlikely to promote you or your product to my list unless I know you or you were referred to me by someone I know and trust.

12–I will politely decline your kind invitation to visit you at your home and hang out when I am in your state, as I almost never travel and therefore am unlikely to ever be in your state.


Category: General | 102 Comments »

Are You Too Old to Start a New Business?

November 12th, 2009 by Bob Bly

JR, one of my readers, took exception to an article I wrote saying that you are never too old to start your own business.

“As a young (20’s) entrepreneur, I can tell you that starting a business takes an enormous amount of energy and drive — energy and drive I see lacking in many older people,” JR wrote to me in an e-mail.

In addition, says JR, old fogies are out of touch witih today’s young consumer and especially with technology.

“How can you be on the leading edge of business if you don’t own an iPod, iPhone, Netbook, or Bluetooth?” he asks.

Well, I dunno. I don’t own any of those things. And I started a new business (my Internet marketing business) not too long before my 50th birthday.

Is JR right? Is there an age at which you should just hang up your ambitions, sit back in the sun, relax, and play bridge?

Or can men and women of any age start a business and succeed?


Category: General | 78 Comments »

Are You a “Marketing Theoretician”?

November 11th, 2009 by Bob Bly

A marketing theoretician is a blogger, author, or speaker who writes and speaks about marketing, but doesn’t actually DO marketing.

My advice is to read books and blogs and attend seminars and webinars by people who are marketing practitioners — actually doing marketing in the real world — either planning and writing campaigns, or marketing their own products.

I would also advise you to AVOID reading books and attending lectures by marketing theoreticians.


Marketing, unlike physics, is not a subject in which theory is particularly valuable: often, what a theoretician thinks will work and says will work … does NOT in fact actually work.

Conversely, marketing campaigns that theoreticians would grade a D or F often pull like gangbusters in the real world.

So let me ask, fellow marketing bloggers, speakers, and authors ….

Are you a marketing theoretician or a marketing practitioner — or both?

Whom do you read and listen to — theoreticians or practitioners — and why?


Category: General | 105 Comments »

Save Money. Die Better.

November 10th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Walmart’s slogan is “Save Money. Live Better.”

Now Walmart can help you die better, too — or at least cheaper: According to an article in Advertising Age (11/9/09, p. 10), the retail giant is now selling caskets and other funeral supplies on its web sites.

Costco and Amazon also sell coffins online. Traditionally coffins are sold by funeral homes as part of the funeral package.

Naturally, a spokesperson for the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) said buying coffins online is risky business; if the item is damaged, it may not be possible to fix or replace it in time for the funeral.

The main appeal of buying a casket online is low cost: some online vendors sell pine boxes starting at $200. Walmart has a “Dad Remembered” (how nice) model at $895.

I’m going to skip buying my coffin at Walmart or anywhere else: like 36% of Americans, I’m going to be cremated.

Fortunately for me, Walmart sells low-priced urns, too.


Category: General | 72 Comments »