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Archive for July, 2013

The virtue of modesty

July 24th, 2013 by Bob Bly

AL, a superstar stock broker on Wall Street, once said: “The
more you tell the client that you are not a guru, not a
rain-maker, the more credible you become.”

I think this kind of humbleness goes a long way toward getting
people to trust you. Yet modesty is a credibility builder that
almost no one uses. What a shame!

For instance, on one of his web sites, my buddy Fred Gleeck, the
superstar information marketer, writes:

“Probably 98% of people who buy my products do nothing. The
testimonials on this site represent those who HAVE done

“I make no promises about your results. That’s up to you. The
information is solid. The testimonials represent a VERY SMALL
portion of the people who buy this product, much to my chagrin!”

This is brilliant because it is both honest and believable. The
reader either knows or suspects that most information products
don’t deliver the results their authors boast about. Fred’s copy
resonates with the belief the reader already has in his head
instead of clashing with it.

Fred also avoids creating unrealistic expectations on the part
of the buyer. If you buy his product and don’t get the results,
you realize that it is at least in part your fault. So this
reduces dissatisfaction and minimizes refund requests.

Sad to say, the majority of people I encounter both in business
and my personal life are braggarts, to one degree or another.

To me, that’s counterproductive, because in my observation, most
people dislike braggarts and admire modesty.

The Bible, Jeremiah 9:23: “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise
[man] glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty [man] glory in
his might, let not the rich [man] glory in his riches.”

If you wish to be a humble and modest human being, or at least
give the appearance of being one, here are 3 simple rules to

1-Resist the constant temptation to brag, no matter how frequent
or strong the impulse.

2-Do not tell people about your successes, accomplishments, or
good fortune unless they ask. And even then, downplay it.

3-Is what you are about to say going to make the other person
feel bad about themselves in comparison to you? Are you saying
it unnecessarily to feed your own ego? If so, don’t say it.


Category: General | 102 Comments »

The awful truth about content marketing

July 13th, 2013 by Bob Bly

Is content marketing – the marketing methodology that entails disseminating free special reports, white papers, e-books, blog posts, and other useful content to potential customers – overrated?

Sales expert Robert Minskoff seems to think so.

“Go ahead and blog, tweet, and post,” says Minskoff. “But be very aware that there is still a large segment of the buying population that places very little importance on that type of content.”

So what does work in getting the order? “Selling is a human interaction,” Robert says. “Be human.”

I am the first to stand up and say content marketing – which in the good old days, we simply called “free information offers” – can work well.

After all, I have been an active practitioner of content marketing since the early 1980s.

But content marketing has its limits.

Offering free content is great for generating inquiries – people love to get free stuff.

It also educates the consumer on how to buy your type of product.

For instance, say you offer a free report “7 Things to Look for When Hiring a Roofer.”

Naturally, your roofing service precisely meets all 7 requirements spelled out in the report.

So after reading the report, homeowners will be more likely to hire you than your competitors who do not precisely match the requirements you listed.

However, if all you do is give away free content, you are not going to close many sales.

Content marketers need to remember that we are in the business of selling, not giving away free stuff.

The prospect is there not merely to be educated. You also have to sell him on why he should buy your product vs. other alternatives – including doing nothing. And that’s not content marketing. That’s copywriting.

To close the sale, at some point the prospect must receive a communication containing copy that (1) highlights your product’s unique advantages over the competition, (2) overcomes his objections, and (3) proves that your product is a superior solution to his problems.

You may also need professional salespeople who know how to establish relationships with prospects, diagnose their needs, and convince them your company is the best equipped to meet those needs.

Not to be mean-spirited, but I think part of the reason so many marketers jumped on the content marketing bandwagon so readily is that writing content is a lot easier – and less  threatening – than either writing copy that sells or selling in person.

It’s a relatively easy and pleasant task to write a short blog post on a thought, idea, tip, or factoid that caught your fancy. Or put that information in your e-zine.

It’s quite another to convince a terrific prospect to retain your firm when he is objecting that your price is too high – or he thinks your competitor is just as good as you are.

That kind of situation causes your average content marketer to run for the hills – but copywriters and salespeople alike relish such selling challenges. It’s what we’re paid for.

The bottom line: content marketing is fine as far as it goes. But nothing really happens until somebody sells something.


Category: General | 70 Comments »

Is being the best overrated?

July 11th, 2013 by Bob Bly

Confession time: I am an inferior human being … meaning I come
up short in almost every category by which people are measured.

Every day, I look around and see people who are more athletic
than me … better-looking … taller … smarter … thinner … kinder …
more personable … wealthier … healthier … more well-adjusted …
even funnier.

Whatever I do professionally – copywriting, book writing,
speaking, information marketing, consulting – there are others
who are more successful and make much more money at it than I do
(though in one of these vocations not many others and not that
much more money).

How do I live with myself knowing that I am so inferior?

The secret is that you can be lousy at 99.9% of things and still
have a happy and successful life – at long as you are good at
just a few or perhaps even only one thing.

As far as I know, Paul Simon is good at only music. He’s
certainly not the biggest, strongest, or best-looking guy on the

Also, most fans listening to his music would agree that Paul
Simon doesn’t have the best voice and isn’t the greatest singer
in the world.

But Paul Simon has enough people who like his songs and his
singing to give him a lucrative and successful music career.

You do not have to be the best there is at what you do to make a
great living at it. SR is a great example.

SR is a professional stand-up comic who decided to make the
transition to more lucrative performing as a corporate
motivational speaker.

I have heard SR do both comedy and speaking. He is not the
funniest comic I have ever heard. He is not the best
motivational speaker I have ever heard.

But he IS the funniest motivational speaker I have ever heard.
So he makes a great living speaking for meeting planners who
want a motivational speaker who can also make their audience

What most people don’t realize is that you don’t have to possess
nearly as many fans as Paul Simon to make a lot of money and
live well from your work.

I think it was Seth Godin who observed that if you have just
10,000 fans, you can make a great living and have a successful

For instance, if you have an e-list with 10,000 subscribers, and
can convince each to spend just $100 a year with you, you will
gross annual sales of a million dollars.

Ten thousand people are hardly a big fan base; Bon Jovi probably
has millions of fans. You do not need a huge fan base to succeed
at whatever it is you do.

If you are a freelance copywriter, and tomorrow 10% of the
Fortune 500 wanted you to write copy for them, you would be
overwhelmed and could not handle a fraction of the workload.

You simply do not need every company out there to consider you
the top copywriter. You only need a few who like what you do
well enough to want you to work on their promotions.

And even those few companies do not have to consider you the
“best” at what you do. They simply have to feel that your
service is a good fit for what they want.

Years ago, when I did some consulting work for Dow Chemical,
they shared with me that they were producing 778 print ads,
brochures, catalogs, press releases, data sheets, and other
marketing documents that year.

If you were a copywriter back then and Dow was your only client,
they could keep you busy and profitable round the clock – and do
the same for ten other copywriters at the same time. And that’s
just one client.

So if it helps you, I want you to know:

1-You can be middling to poor at most things and still have a
successful life and career.

2-You don’t even have to be the best at what you ARE good at to
have a successful life and career. You just have to offer
something that other people want.

3-You don’t have to have throngs of admirers. In many instances
10,000 fans, 100 customers, or 10 clients or less can keep you
busy and profitable all year long.

If all this is of some comfort to you, and stops you from
fretting about what you think are your shortcomings, then I have
achieved my goal.


Category: General | 111 Comments »