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Archive for April, 2012

How Not to be a “Follow-Up Pest”

April 19th, 2012 by Bob Bly

One area of uncertainty among service providers is how often to follow up with prospects.

Not often enough and you may lose an opportunity to another vendor who is more visible.

Too often and  you risk being an annoyance.

One technique that helps is to make sure you are NOT being a pest when you follow up.

Whether I am following  up by phone or e-mail, the first thing I say is “I don’t want to be a pest, but … ” followed by a brief description of why I am calling.

This works amazingly well. Almost without fail, the prospect replies, “You’re not being a pest — I am glad you followed up!”

I don’t know what about “I don’t want to be a pest, but” works. I only know that it works like magic.


Category: General | 50 Comments »

What is a “Guaranteed Best-Seller?”

April 11th, 2012 by Bob Bly

Today I received an e-mail from a semi-famous business author. In it, he announced that he was working on a new best-seller.

Not to nitpik, but I beg to differ. He is working on a book that he HOPES will be a best-seller. But to describe the book-in-progress as a best-seller in the present tense is silly.

He may think his book has a good shot at  making the best-seller list. But it certainly hasn’t yet.

In his e-mail, he also refers to the book as “a guaranteed best-seller.” Again, NO ONE can guarantee that their book will be a best-seller, even if their previous books have been.

This is a good example of hype  that in my view goes a little too far. It is dishonest and not credible.


Category: General | 52 Comments »

Read This Only If You Think E-Mail is “Greener” Than Direct Mail

April 6th, 2012 by Bob Bly

Here are some facts about the eco-friendliness of paper direct marketing (direct mail) vs. electronic direct marketing (e-mail) from my fellow copywriter Marjorie Bicknell: 

* Only 1.8% of household waste is from advertising direct mail messages and catalogues.
* Direct-mail accounts for just 2.4 percent of landfill waste
* 54.7 percent of all paper in the U.S. is currently recycled.
* A single e-mail contributes 9 grams of CO2.
* 95 trillion spam emails were sent in 2010.
* Spam alone requires an energy use equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million U.S. homes. 
* In 2005, the amount of electricity consumed by data centers globally was equivalent to the production of 14 coal-fired 1,000-megawatt power plants.
* A single web server can produce more tons of CO2 in a year than a car.
* The net effect of running all of the servers in the United States is equal to that of five nuclear power plants


Category: General | 55 Comments »

Building Your Platform — Online

April 4th, 2012 by Bob Bly

Publishers today only want to publish books by authors with a “platform.”

A platform is (1) a visible presence in a market and (2) one or more channels through which you can reach that market.

Editors looked for such things as whether the author had a column, TV or radio show, even an infommercial.

But now, as a potential author you have to build  your platform online too.

In your book proposals, publishers want to know: (a) number of Facebook fans, (b) Twitter followers, (c) LinkedIn connections, (d) sales of prior books, which the can now confirm easily online, and (e) web site statstics especially unique visits per month.

If you ignore social media like I do, you are soon going to find it next to impossible to sell  your book idea to a mainstream publisher.

With everyone self-publishing POD (print on demand) books and Kindle e-books today, maybe that doesn’t much matter to you.

But I’m old school. I like “real” books — books that are made of paper, professionally designed, and published by a traditional publishing house, which still (in my opinion) produce books of quality a full step higher than the average self-published affair.


Category: General | 56 Comments »

The Easiest Marketing Task in the World

April 3rd, 2012 by Bob Bly

What’s the easiest marketing task in the world?

It’s putting up a web site that looks pretty and reads well — but doesn’t have to sell anything or generate any other kind of measurable response.

I know, because the most common call I get as a copywriter is this: “We put up a web site and everybody says how great it looks, but we aren’t getting any sales. Help!”

It may be that I am envious of general marketers that don’t have to produce results. If they put up a web site that’s aesthetically pleasing, and that the client praises, they are the hero.

As a direct response copywriter, if I don’t increase the conversion rate of my client’s web site or landing page, I am the goat.

Do you agree with me that creating direct marketing is more difficult and takes more skill than general marketing?


Category: General | 65 Comments »