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Archive for June, 2010

10 Classic Marketing Books You Should Read

June 28th, 2010 by Bob Bly

1) How to Write a Good Advertisement by Vic Schwab (Wilshire Book Company, 1962). A common-sense course in how to write advertising copy that gets people to buy your product or service, written by a plain-speaking veteran mail order copywriter in 1960.

Best part: 100 ?archetypal? headlines that people are still using in various forms today to create new controls (e.g., ?When Doctors Feel Rotten, This is What They Do?).

Availability: Still in print (Wilshire Publishing) and available on

2) My First 50 Years in Advertising by Max Sackheim (Prentice-Hall, 1970). Another plain-speaking, common-sense guide that stresses salesmanship over creativity, and results over awards. The author was one of the originators of the Book of the Month Club.

Best part: The oversize format allows full-size reproductions (large enough for the copy to be legible) of many classic direct response ads (e.g., ?They Thought I Was Crazy to Ship Live Maine Lobsters as Far as 1,800 Miles from the Ocean?).

Availability: Out of print and difficult to find.

3) The Robert Collier Letter Book by Robert Collier. While Schwab and Sackheim concentrate on space ads, Collier focuses on the art of writing sales letters, of which he is a master. You learn how to write persuasive sales letters in a friendly, natural, conversational style.

Best part: While some of the letters may seem old-fashioned and dated, Collier?s timeless principles still apply.

Availability: Comes in and out of print. Somewhat difficult to get.

4) Reality in Advertising by Rosser Reeves (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961). The book in which Reeves introduced the now-famous concept of USP (the Unique Selling Proposition).

Best part: The idea that every successful ad must (a) offer a benefit, (b) the benefit must differentiate your product from the competition, and (c) the benefit must be big enough to motivate buyers to purchase your product instead of others.

Availability: Out of print and difficult to get.

5) Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. A copywriting guide by one of the greatest direct-response copywriters of the 20th century.

Best part: The notion that advertising does not create desires; rather, it focuses already existing desires onto your product.

Availability: Available from Boardroom Books.

6) Tested Advertising Methods, Fifth Edition by John Caples, revised by Fred Hahn (Prentice-Hall, 1997). An updated version of John Caples? classic book on the principles of persuasion as proven through A/B split tests.

Best part: The A/B split headline tests with the results (e.g., for an air conditioner, ?How to have a cool, quiet bedroom ? even on hot nights? pulled 2 ? times the response of ?Get rid of that humidity with a new room cooler that also dries the air?).

Availability: In print. Available in bookstores and online.

7) Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy (Atheneum). Charming autobiography of legendary ad man David Ogilvy, packed with useful advice on how to create effective advertising.

Best part: Chapter 6 on ?How to Write Potent Copy.?

Availability: Out of print and difficult to get.

8)-Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins (Bell Publishing, 1920). A book on the philosophy that advertising?s purpose is to sell, not entertain or win creative awards ? and how to apply this philosophy to create winning ads.

Best part: His observation that ?specifics sell; superlatives roll off the human understanding like water off a duck?s back.?

Availability: Since the copyright has expired, this book is now in the public domain and is available as a free downloadable e-book on several Web sites.You can also buy it as a paperback on

9) Method Marketing by Denny Hatch (Bonus Books, 1999). A book on how to write successful direct response copy by putting yourself in the customer?s shoes. Packed with case histories of modern direct response success stories, including Bill Bonner of Agora Publishing, and Martin Edelston of Boardroom.

Best part: The introduction of the concept of method marketing, which states: ?You cannot write copy without getting inside the head of the person to whom you are communicating and becoming that person.?

Availability: In print and available on; also on Denny?s Web site

10) Advertising Secrets of the Written Word by Joseph Sugarman (DelStar, 1998). How to write successful advertising copy by a modern master of the space ad.

Best part: The 24 psychological triggers that get people to buy.

Availability: In print and available on

Did I leave out any of your favorites? (I know I left out a dozen or so of mine!)


Category: General | 82 Comments »

Not All List Brokers Are Created Equal

June 28th, 2010 by Bob Bly

by, Brian Berg,President/CEO ? BB Direct, Inc

No two list brokers are the same. Yes, they are all compensated by earning a commission in the form of a discount for their data, but not all list brokers live up to the compensation they receive. Many provide little more than a list industry vocabulary. A good mailing list broker starts with an account summary of previous campaign successes and low or no response. They attempt to involve the mailer in the process of target audience selection and how their list recommendation is developed. Ultimately, they attempt to improve response and response measurement, as well as reducing cost.

Often asked, ?Why utilize a mailing list broker when you can go direct to the source?? The answer to this question can be found in the flexibility provided by a list broker. A good mailing list broker can access many sources of data, put the ?target-ability? of the list before cost, and properly set the expectations of the mailer in terms of deliverability and response.

Mailers that go direct to the database compiler should expect to pay a standard retail price point that?s higher than what you?d pay with a broker. But even more so, going directly to the database source will limit their options. Owners of the database will only sell their own data while brokers will have options. And since no two databases are the same, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of a particular database is a quality that good list broker can deliver.

When shopping for a mailing list, it only makes sense to get more than one quote. Like anything you shop for, consider experience within your industry, price, and general ?gut? feeling about the broker/consultant. Ask for references and call those references. The time put into this type of research will always return favorable results. The importance of partnering with a good mailing list broker is vital to the direct mail investment and the return on that investment.


Category: Online Marketing | 50 Comments »

“Your Price is Too High”

June 18th, 2010 by Bob Bly

What do you do when a customer says, ?Your price is too high??

The best way to handle this is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Your best chance of making the sale is if your price quotation is within the prospect?s budget. Your best chance of having that happen is to know the budget before you give your price.

And the best way of knowing the budget before you give your price is simply to ask.

Here?s a comfortable, nonaggressive way to get this information: Instead of just coming out and asking what their budget is, which makes some prospects uncomfortable, ask them this nonthreatening question instead:

?Do you have a budget??

The prospect will answer either yes or no. If they say they have a budget, the conversation goes like this:

YOU: Do you have a budget?
YOU: Would you mind sharing what that is with me?

If the prospect does not have a budget, this conversation might go as follows:

YOU: Do you have a budget?
YOU: Well, did you at least have a dollar figure or range in mind of what you?d like it to cost?

About half the prospects will give you an answer so you can tailor your price quote accordingly.

The other half won?t, so you just have to go ahead and make your estimate without this knowledge.


Category: General | 161 Comments »

The Value of a Facebook Fan

June 16th, 2010 by Bob Bly

According to an article in PR Daily Newsfeed, the average Facebook fan is worth about $136.38.

In addition, Facebook fans spent an extra $71.84 they would not otherwise spend on products they describe themselves as fans of compared to those who are not fans.

I haven’t made a dime from my Facebook fans. If anybody can show me how, I’ll pay you!


Category: General | 53 Comments »

Mental Opt-Out

June 15th, 2010 by Bob Bly

A recent article in DM News used the term ?mental opt-out? to describe someone who does not unsubscribe from a list but just stops reading or even opening the e-mails.

In surveying my list, I discovered a lot of mental opt-outs among my e-zine subscribers: they hadn?t unsubscribed yet but they no longer read the messages.

Although mental opt-out isn?t included in the figures when you measure opt-out rate, it?s just as dangerous to your online business.

Reason: if people don?t read what you send anymore, it means they either don?t value the content or don?t trust you.

And if they don?t open and read your messages, they won?t respond to your offers.

According to a study reported in Target Marketing, after subscribers are on a list for two years, their propensity to open e-mail declines by nearly 40 percent.

How do you prevent mental opt-out? One way is to keep an eye on your open rate. If it sinks, that?s a sign people are mentally opting out and you need to do something about it.

Make sure your content is fresh and valuable. Surprisingly, many of your subscribers save or remember your e-mails, and if you try to recycle old messages, it won?t be received well.

If you suspect mental opt-out, try cutting back on the frequency of your e-mail blasts. Many subscribers are absolutely bombarded with e-mail ? yours and others ? and yours will stand out more if there are fewer per week. In the good old days of direct mail we used the term ?list fatigue? to describe a list that was being mailed to too often. Well, e-lists can suffer list fatigue too.

Send fewer sales messages and more content messages. A minimum of 50% of your e-mails should be pure content. I used to send two and even sometimes three sales messages a week. Now the majority of my e-mails will be pure content.

I found the best way to uncover mental opt-out was to ask my subscribers (including you) whether I was sending out too many sales messages and whether my newsletter contained enough content for them.

You can do this with your list, and believe me, your subscribers won?t be shy about speaking up for what they want from their subscription to your service.

Adjust what you are doing, give them what they want, and they will start to mentally opt in again, read your messages, and respond to your offers. But not overnight. It takes time to rebuild trust.

Do you know who is on your list and what topics they are most interested in? You can find out with an online survey using a tool like We did this and it really helped me understand my audience better. Your subscribers will also appreciate that you took the time to do a survey to find out what they want.


Category: General | 61 Comments »