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Archive for May, 2011

Do you pay for referrals?

May 31st, 2011 by Bob Bly

For decades, I have made it a practice to refer my clients to vendors who can provide services those clients need ? and that I don?t offer myself.

?I have also made it a policy never to accept a referral fee from any vendor, though many offer it, and some even argue with me when I turn it down.

?I do not accept referral fees for this reason: my primary mission is to give my clients the best recommendations I can ? and that means being totally objective.

?It follows logically that I make recommendations that are the best for my client, not the most profitable for me.

?And yes, sometimes what?s good for the client is not good for the vendor.

?For instance, I have many people calling who are eager to pay me thousands of dollars to write a promotion for them.

?In many instances, I turn them down, advising that their idea won?t work or their product won?t fly.

?By telling them this, I am saving them from financial disaster ? but I am also talking myself out of a nice, fat copywriting fee.

?Even worse, my recommendation that they not proceed is based on my nearly three decades of marketing experience.

?Therefore, the advice is valuable to them ? but I am not getting paid a dime for it, as they have not engaged me on a consulting basis.

?I want my clients to know that the advice I give them is always in their best interest ? and if I took referral fees from vendors, it would create a potential conflict.

?I sincerely believe I would always recommend the best vendor for the job ? not the vendor who paid me the highest commission.

?But could I ? or the client ? be 100% certain I was always motivated by their best interests, and not a juicy referral fee?

?The reason I bring this up is that PF, a copywriter, recently contacted me asking for referrals.

?But unlike the many other copywriters who want referrals from me, PF was offering me something in return ? a free lobster.

?Or rather, a $50 gift certificate to a Web site selling Maine lobsters for each new client I referred to her.

?Now, while I am against taking referral fees, I do make it a practice to send a small thank-you gift to people who refer business to me.

?So if it?s OK for me to send a small gift to a referral source, it seems like it should be OK for vendors to send small gifts to me when I am their referral source.

?Now, I don?t want them to do it. And I openly discourage it.

?But, if a nice gift arrives in the mail, I usually don?t send it back. I keep it and thank the vendor for it.

?I don?t think a small gift influences who gets my referrals ? except, PF?s free lobster offer sticks in my mind.

?Actually, I don?t eat lobster, which I know is unusual.

?Any food that comes in its own armor is not for me ? and truthfully, I don?t even like the texture or taste.

?But ?.

?My oldest son Alex loves lobster ? and a $50 lobster would put a smile on his face.

?So when I am asked for a referral to a copywriter these days, by clients who can?t afford my fees or to wait until I am available, I find PF?s name popping up in my mind first.

?Should you take ? or give ? referral fees from and to other vendors?

?That?s up to you.

?But my position on this issue is: make your recommendations ?pure,? unbiased, and objective ? and let your clients know it.

?That way you get something far more valuable than the referral commission the vendor wants to pay you.

?You get your client?s trust ? and a reputation in your industry as someone who is honest and trustworthy.

?That?s something ? unlike a lobster ? that money can?t buy.


Category: General | 48 Comments »

Are You a Good Marketer or a Great One?

May 24th, 2011 by Bob Bly

A reporter once asked legendary pool player Minnesota Fats what made the difference between a great pool player ? which Fats was ? and one who was merely good.

?The good pool player makes the shot,? said Fats. ?The great pool player not only makes the shot, but does so in such a way that the balls are lined up for the next shot.?

I think the same applies to marketers.

Are you a good marketer ? or a great marketer?

A good marketer creates a product, runs a promotion for it, gets a healthy response rate, and makes a nice profit.

A great market does all that too ? but he also designs the product, promotion, or both so that the next sale is ready to be made.

For instance,?Friendly?s restaurant, regardless of what you think of their food, is often a great marketer.

Yes, when you walk in, there are always specials, enticing you to buy more during your visit.

These specials often include an ice cream desert, which many customers, after the big meal, are too full to eat.

Instead of letting the customer walk out without getting their desert ? which would slightly increase the restaurant?s margin on the meal ? my local Friendly?s gives away a certificate entitling you to get your free ice cream on your next visit.

Are they being generous?

Yes. But they are also being smart.

Because when you return to claim your free ice cream, you will most likely buy ice cream for the people with you ? or pick up a quart to take home ? or stop and have lunch.

Friendly?s is a great marketer, because they are thinking ahead to the next sale ? not just focusing on today?s transaction.

How about you?

Are you a good marketer ? or a great marketer?

Good marketers focus on the front end ? the immediate sale.

Great marketers strategize ways to maximize revenues from every product, promotion, and customer.

Good marketers make a good living.

Great marketers make a great living ? and become rich beyond the dreams of avarice.


Category: General | 61 Comments »

Does PowerPoint suck?

May 20th, 2011 by Bob Bly

I have to confess: I once hated PowerPoint. Now I use it in nearly every presentation, mainly because the conferences and webinar producers who ask me to speak insist on it.

Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post is not a fan of PowerPoint.

“Enduring a PowerPoint presentation is rarely informative and never efficient,” Marcus states. “The inevitable cutesy graphics — why think through a tough problem when you can spend your time surfing for clip art or experimenting with fonts — add a bullet point of insult to the injury of having to sit through it.”

“PowerPoint may help speakers outline their talks, but convenience for the speaker can be punishing to both content and audience,” writes Edward Tufte in Wired magazine. “The standard PowerPoint presentation elevates form over content, betraying an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch.”

Adds Marcus: “The seductive availability of PowerPoint and the built-in drive to reduce all subjects to a series of short-handed bullet points eliminates nuances and enables, even encourages, the absence of serious thinking.”

I use PowerPoint when giving presentations. Do you? Do you agree that bullets and PowerPoint are inherently mind-numbing and boring? Or does it depend on the speaker?


Category: General | 82 Comments »