Archive for March, 2018

My info product pricing strategy in a nutshell

March 30th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber GK writes:

“Many of the big guns in info marketing believe in the concept of
charging very high prices, which sometimes annoys me with their
greed.

“On the other hand, Bob Bly, you make ongoing offers of
inexpensive info-products which seem to recur about every few
weeks.”

“Why do you do what you do? And which should I sell — big-ticket
items or less expensive programs?”

I can’t tell GK what to do. But let’s take a closer look at
strategic pricing of info products for greater ROI and maximum
customer satisfaction.

There are a couple of reasons why many info marketers, both the
top and others, charge what may seem like almost usurious prices
for their courses.

The first is obvious: to make more money.

If a guru has a $3,000 course on Topic X — and I cover the same
material in a $30 ebook — I have to sell 100 units to make the
same 3 grand he makes with just one sale.

The second reason these gurus give for their high prices is:
“Charging a lot of money is the only way to motivate customer to
take the information seriously.”

And to a certain degree, they’re right: If you pay only $30 for
my course on X, then get busy, put it aside, and never return to
it, you haven’t lost much — at least not much money paid for a
product you didn’t really use.

But if you paid 3K for Mr. Big Guru’s program, your large
investment makes you more likely to pay attention to it. Right?

Conversely, when you or I give someone free advice, that person
values our info based on what he or she paid for it: nothing.

So, why don’t I jump on the bandwagon and bring out a line of
super-expensive info products for my readers?

For these 5 good reasons:

>> First, one can argue that, in particular when selling to
first-time customers, it is better to make $3,000 in revenues by
selling 100 units of a $30 items vs. by selling just one unit of
a $3,000 item.

Reason: With the first order, you acquire 100 new customers
instead of just one, building your list 100X faster.

>> Second, with reasonable pricing, it is easier to deliver value
many times in excess of what the customer pays for the product.

Fred Gleeck says the info products you sell should be ideally
worth 10X or more the list price.

Well, creating a $30 ebook that delivers $300 or more in value is
an achievable goal for me and you.

On the other hand, it’s more difficult to create a $3,000 program
that you can honestly say is worth at least 30 grand.

>> Third, many consumers perceive, rightly or wrongly, that some
of the higher-priced info product marketers are really in the
“money extraction” business more than they are the value delivery
business.

So many buyers, like GK, feel they are being treated as a mark
rather than a student or valued client.

As for me, I want a reputation of delivering real value as well
as never ripping people off.

>> Fourth, big-ticket products — such as conferences, boot camps,
coaching, masterminds, and multimedia programs — are usually more
complex to produce than low-priced ebooks, DVDs, or audios.

Orchestrating the creation, production, delivery, and marketing
of big-ticket items takes a lot of time and effort.

That works if you are a full-time info marketer, especially if
you have a team to help you.

But for a little operator like me, for whom info marketing is a
spare-time income, the simplicity and ease of producing and
selling books, audios, and other lower-priced items is more
appealing.

>> Fifth, most big-ticket info products these day have live
elements, such as webinars, mentoring, meetings, or coaching.

For that reason, they are not purely passive income, but a mix of
active and passive.

And again, as a small operator who already had a full-time job
(in my case, freelance copywriting), I want my info products to
be purely passive, requiring zero time on my part to deliver and
support.

Which is why ebooks, DVDs, and other one-shot products are right
for me.

That being said, the best strategy in online information
marketing is to offer an extensive line of products covering the
full price spectrum:

Low … medium … and high-priced items.

That doesn’t necessarily mean all of these programs have to be
YOUR products: some can be those of other marketers, which you
offer as their affiliate or JV partner.

That way, you get a share of the profits from someone else’s
expensive info products — without doing the work!

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Category: Online Marketing | 20 Comments »

The magic of “thin credentials”

March 27th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Recently I got an email notifying me that I had been nominated to
be included in the latest edition of one of the Who’s Who (WW)
directories.

Now, being smart and sophisticated, you may be laughing already.

“Bob, you maroon,” you may be thinking. “Don’t you know that
Who’s Who is hype and a scam — meaningless, worthless, and
bordering on fraud?”

Well, in some ways it may be. It is definitely a marketing ploy,
and not a genuine award or honor.

But there is a counterargument, and it is based on a simple
notion: perception equals reality.

YOU are smart and savvy enough to know WW is mainly a way for the
publisher to make money from marks who are, shall we say, perhaps
a wee bit susceptible to flattery.

But right or wrong, many in the general public — including some
of your prospects and customers — see Who’s Who as real.

Therefore, if you add “listed in Who’s Who” to your bio, doing so
causes your star to rise a bit with these people.

As a result, your WW listing is yet another block (albeit, a tiny
one) in the foundation of your reputation as a guru or expert.

And as we know, being an established guru in your field helps
sell more of your products and services.

Now, “Who’s Who” is a specific example of a broader category of
self-promotion I call the “thin credential.”

I define a thin credential as an honor, award, membership, or
designation that you (a) proactively pursue mainly for its
promotional or marketing value, and (b) sounds more impressive
than it actually is.

Also, if obtaining the thin credential requires study, courses,
and tests to earn it, the individual seeking it often does these
things primarily to get the certification or designation — with
the education and knowledge gained being secondary if that.

For instance, decades ago, I trained as a Certified Novell
Administrator (CNA) — not so I could become a working network
administrator, but to earn a certification that would show my
credibility as a copywriter in the IT niche. And, it worked!

One word of warning: If you get a thin credential, do not
overplay it. Be low key. If you strike up the band, and your
audience knows it’s lightweight, you’ll come off looking silly,
egotistical, or both.

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Category: General, PR | 14 Comments »

Today’s most under-used marketing technique

March 23rd, 2018 by Bob Bly

In my opinion, the best TV commercial running today is this one
for Flex Tape:

The reason I think it is so strong is that the commercial
masterfully employs one of the most powerful — and also one of
the most neglected — copywriting persuasion techniques:

Demonstration.

Direct marketers as well as salespeople have long known the
effectiveness of demonstration.

Yet so many copywriters today strangely neglect it.

But Flex Tape makes full use of the tactic with one of the most
dramatic, attention-getting, and convincing demonstrations I
have seen in recent memory.

The TV pitchman cuts a small metal boat in half with a power saw,
tapes it together with Flex Tape, and then takes it out on the
lake for a ride.

He points out, and you can clearly see, that the interior of the
boat is completely dry!

Obviously, he must be confident in the tape’s ability to stick
even when wet.

There’s a lot of other good stuff in the spot I want to call your
attention to as you view it:

>> There are multiple smaller demos packed into the 2-minute spot
such as patching a leaking roof in the rain and instantly fixing
a broken pipe.

>> The pitchman is sincere and enthusiastic without, at least
IMHO, being over-the-top, irritating, or grating, as some are.

>> Quick descriptive phrases convey a lot of features and
benefits; e.g., “super-wide,” “triple-thick.”

>> He implies the tape is equivalent to a weld without violating
the law, saying it “virtually welds” as he slaps it over the hole
in a water tank, immediately sealing it.

Now, as persuasive as the Flex Tape spot is, notice what it is
NOT:

It’s not clever, creative, funny, or entertaining — as it would
be if the typical Madison Avenue ad agency had produced the
commercial.

It just sells.

So you can be pretty sure it was written, produced, and approved
by a direct marketer who counts sales, not creative awards, as
the indicator of a job well done.

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Category: Direct Marketing | 12 Comments »

In praise of the “little guy” in business

March 20th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Which of these 2 entrepreneurs do you admire more?

Mr. X, who came from poverty, started with almost nothing, and
built a business that generates an income in the lower to mid six
figures … and a net worth in the low seven figures?

Or Mr. Y, who came from a well-to-do family, which provided him
a grub stake worth several million dollars, and which — to his
credit — he turned a successful business, making himself
extremely rich in the process?

A lot of people might say Mr. Y … because he built the more
significant business and fortune.

But — even if both entrepreneurs multiplied what they started by
the same factor … say 20-fold … I pick X as my hero hands-down.

Why?

Both had to work hard, be smart, and overcome many challenges.

But X had one more challenge that Y did not, which to me makes
his success much more significant.

Namely, that when you come from modest beginnings, and have no
real net worth to start with, you are constantly close to
financial disaster when you start a small business.

Typically you invest almost all your time and also your rent
money in it.

So if the business doesn’t take off, you are up poop’s creek.

Worse, if it hobbles along with minimal success, as so many do
for so long, you — much like Jed Clampett — can barely keep your
family fed.

Plus, many neighbors, relatives, and even friends who don’t have
the guts to start a business as you did take delight in your
struggle and lack of big-time success.

Why? Because doing so somehow makes them feel less threatened by
you and better about themselves.

If you look at billionaire businessmen turned politicians today,
I think ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the classic
“lift-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps” Mr. X — the kind of
success story I really admire.

And President Trump is the “born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-mouth”
Mr. Y, for whom the living is much easier.

Born February 14, 1942, Michael Bloomberg grew up in a
lower-middle-class household in the Boston area; his dad was a
bookkeeper.

He went on to build a huge media empire … and various sources
estimate he is worth anywhere from $30 billion to $49 billion;
let’s call it $35 billion.

Also, Bloomberg got there from just about nothing. No money or
business training from a rich and successful daddy.

I don’t follow Bloomberg closely, but in the few interviews I
have heard and articles I have read, he seems to me a modest,
humble, kind, and generous guy.

Another example: Daehee Park and John Marino, who started an
e-commerce business, Tuft & Needle, with $6,000 in 2013 and by
2016 had built it to $100 million in annual sales.

Quite an accomplishment, wouldn’t you agree, especially
considering not one rich relative handed them a million or more
and said, “This should make life easier, boys” — as it would
have.

Now on to Donald Trump, who claims that he got his start with
“only” a one million dollar grubstake from his father, a
successful real estate developer.

(By the way, if anyone feels like giving me a million dollars, I
promise not to use the word “only” in reference to your gift.)

But that million was just for starters, according to the Wall
Street Journal.

Their reporters tracked down a 1985 casino-license disclosure
that showed Trump’s father gave him a second loan, this one for
$14 million — a value of $31 million in today’s dollars.

According to Forbes, Trump is worth around $3.5 billion. Other
sources, such as Vanity Fair, say the figure is much lower.

Now, I’m not saying trust-fund babies who build empires aren’t
smart … or successful … or laudable … or impressive.

I’m just pointing out a simple truth:

They never had to deal with what I believe is the toughest,
riskiest, and scariest part of starting a small business: the
early stage where you risk it all, and if you lose, you’re crap
out of luck.

To me, the fact that silver-spooners are spared this anxiety,
fear, and possibility of destitution … thanks to the security
and backup provided by their daddy’s bankroll … certainly
doesn’t negate their accomplishments.

But also in my opinion, it DOES make their achievement
significantly less impressive than if they had, like many of our
immigrant parents or grandparents who built successful lives,
come to our shores from Ellis Island with only $10 in their
pocket.

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Category: General, Success | 7 Comments »

Why it still pays to be an expert

March 16th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Last week, I related the central idea of a terrific book, “The
Death of Expertise” (Oxford University Press, 2017), by Tom
Nichols, as follows:

“In our culture today, we not only don’t trust our experts, but
openly argue with, ignore, defy them, and at times even treat
them with outright contempt.”

Though I also noted that, despite the growing disdain for experts
in certain fields in some quarters, there are still many who
flock to experts for guidance and advice.

Therefore, becoming an expert — that is, ideally (a) a true
expert who really does know his stuff and (b) is also recognized
as such by his industry or field — can be a big boost to your
career and your business.

Reason: recognized experts or “gurus” are more in demand, have an
easier time getting clients, earn more money, and sell more of
their products and services.

But how do you become a genuine, recognized expert in your
specialty — and gain the kudos, prestige, and financial rewards
that go with it?

Well, on page 30 of his book, Nichols says there are 4
requirements needed to truly become a genuine expert in your
field:

1–Education — What he really means is knowledge gained through
study.

Broadly, to be a genuine expert requires deep understanding of
your subject, and part of the way to gain expertise that is
through diligent, persistent, and careful study.

As an autodidact, you can study on your own. All experts I know
do.

But obtaining some of the knowledge by getting a degree in your
field, especially from a prestigious university, can also be a
plus — and in some fields, like physics and medicine, is
requisite.

And in many other fields as well, not only does a formal
education accelerate your learning, but people tend to take you
more seriously when you have your degree.

2–Talent — People are typically talented in a discipline through
some combination of training, practice, and natural aptitude.

3–Experience — Malcom Gladwell, Mark Ford, and others have said
that to become good at something you have to do it for a thousand
hours — and to become a master, you have to do it for around
10,000 hours.

4–Peer and public affirmation — It usually takes both
achievement and recognition by both one’s peers and the general
public to be considered an expert.

Examples include movie directors being recognized with an Oscar,
musicians with a Grammy, scientists with a Nobel Prize, and
journalists with a Pulitzer.

Of course, those are at the top of the game, and multiple lesser
prizes and publicity can also help you achieve expert status —
everything from giving a talk at your local library to writing an
article for your industry trade journal.

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Category: General, Success | 9 Comments »

Why I won’t write free guest posts for RM’s blog

March 13th, 2018 by Bob Bly

RM recently emailed me:

“Bob, we are simply amazed with your writing style and would want
you to be a part of our community.

“I’m the Head of Marketing at XYZ Marketers. We are building a
community of Marketers.”

“Information that you provide through your blogs could be crucial
for the marketers, businesses, and brands coming to our site
trying to increase their brand exposure.

“We would like to invite you to guest blog. Guest Blogging with
Passionate Marketers will provide you an opportunity to showcase
your thought leadership in the industry.

“As with your informative and insightful content, you will not
only provide value to the new audience, but will establish trust
too!

“We believe the learning curve in a community is always high.
Looking forward to hear from you.”

RM actually thought he was flattering me — rather than insulting
me — by asking me to do for him for free what others pay me a
lot of money to do: write.

So I instantly emailed back a polite “thanks but no thanks.”

The reason I bring this up is: most solopreneurs, self-employed
professionals, freelance writers, consultants, and others in our
boat get requests like this quite frequently.

And if you are typical, you may struggle with how to respond …

… and whether to actually accept and do as asked — whether it’s to
write a guest post for a blog … or be interviewed on a podcast …
or allow one of your articles to be reprinted in someone else’s
e-newsletter or on their website — always, of course, with no
offer of pay.

To help you out in these situations, here are 5 simple questions
you can ask yourself to make quick and smart decisions about
requests for free contributions of your time, expertise, or other
things of value that people want without paying you for it:

#1–Who’s asking?

RM was with a blog and a company I never heard of.

I wouldn’t even write a free article for the Wall Street Journal.

I am certainly not going to do it for a blog I never heard of
that, for all I know, has 3 readers.

Do they have more than 3?

I don’t know.

Because RM didn’t think the size of his audience was worth
mentioning when he made his request.

And even if he told me, how do I know I can trust that number?

Would you run a paid ad in a magazine or a banner on a website
without knowing the magazine’s circulation or the site’s monthly
traffic?

No. Then why would you write for a blog or website with no clue
of how big the audience is?

#2–What’s the benefit?

So RM is going to help me “showcase my thought leadership”?

Forgive me for not swooning from the excitement.

#3–Do I need the benefit?

So let’s say the benefit is showcasing my thought leadership.

With speaking engagements for some of the biggest corporations
and most prestigious organizations in the world … and 95 books
published … is getting more PR something I really need at this
point?

#4–What’s the ROTI?

ROTI is “return on time invested.”

If I make, say, $300 an hour as a writer, and it takes me 2 hours
to write a guest post, it costs me $600.

Will my post on the XYZ blog make me at least twice that —
$1,200 in orders for my services or products?

If not — pass.

#5–Who owns the content?

Say by some chance your answers to questions #1 through #4 above
line up and say, “Do it!”

Then at least let RM know that you own all rights to your
material.

And just to be sure, type the words “first rights only” at the
top of page one of your manuscript.

Why?

Because in today’s marketplace of commerce and ideas, your
content collection is a goldmine.

And you only let others borrow your treasure. You never give it
away.

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Category: Writing | 3 Comments »

The death of expertise

March 9th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Today people think that, with a few Google searches, they know
more than their doctors who have 4 years of Med School.

But as Tom Nichols writes in his new book “The Death of
Expertise” (Oxford University Press, 2017):

“Experts are more often right than wrong on essential matters of
fact. And yet the public constantly searches for the loopholes in
expert knowledge that will allow them to disregard all expert
advice they don’t like.

“I have started hearing from professionals not about clients
asking sensible questions, but about those same clients actively
telling professionals why their advice was wrong — dismissing the
idea that the expert knew what he was doing almost out of hand.”

“No one is arguing that experts can’t be wrong. Rather, the point
is they are less likely to be wrong than non-experts.

“The Internet is the enabler of a spreading epidemic of
misinformation, making many of us dumber.

“It’s also making us meaner: along behind their keyboards, people
argue rather than discuss, and insult rather than listen.”

Along these lines, and frustrated by the increasing lack of
reliance and trust on the advice of experts, I asked a fellow
consultant: “I don’t get it. After all, you wouldn’t hire a
surgeon to perform surgery on you, and then tell her what
scalpel, suture, and surgical technique to use — right?”

She said, “These days, many patients would.”

Once, my wife and I hired a gray-haired, grizzled home repair
veteran to tile our bathroom.

When he started working, she questioned his tiling method, saying
she had seen it done differently — on HGTV.

He smiled and said, “Miss — a little knowledge is a dangerous
thing.” And then turned back to his work, tiling the way he had
been for the last 40 years. And the bathroom came out great.

Today, thanks to Google, everyone has that “little knowledge,”
which often harms more often than it helps.

Now, to be fair, I want to make one distinction Nichols does not
make: practitioners vs. teachers.

In the “age of expertise skepticism” (my term, not his), people
increasingly question and even ignore the advice of experienced
practitioners and service providers, including doctors,
attorneys, real estate agents, electricians, masons, and many
others.

However, when it comes to experts who teach, rather than do — a
category that includes professors, authors, speakers, seminar
leaders, trainers, and information marketers — consumers still
look for an advisor they perceive as a recognized expert in his
or her field.

And in my next essay, I’ll show you the 4 keys to becoming that
expert — and how to attain each.

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Category: General, Success | 12 Comments »

I am once again embarrassingly transparent

March 7th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Previously, I’ve commented in this e-newsletter on an internet
phenomenon — “transparency.”

It’s the odd but true fact that your email subscribers are, for
some strange reason, not just interested in learning more about
your topic — but also about you.

Apparently, spilling your guts — and sharing personal details —
engages many of your subscribers just as well or better than your
content-rich messages.

So, in the interest of transparency … and Lord knows if you
really care about this, but in case you do …

… here in no particular order are 10 things I like but realize
many others may find stupid, silly, moronic, immature, or all
four:

1–50 Cent. So sue me. I like 50 Cent … though given inflation,
maybe he now goes by 75 cent. I don’t know. But whenever I hear
“In Da Club,” I start moving to the music — and, I do not dance.
(It’s also used in a pretty good new horror movie, “Happy
Deathday.”)

2–Superman. Seinfeld and I have one thing in common: a Superman
obsession. I have been reading Superman comics since the early
1960s.

I have a collection of hundreds of Superman and other DC comics.
There are three Superman figurines adorning my office shelves. I
even wrote a book about Superman and other comic book
superheroes:

http://amzn.to/2CFVXQG

(Through writing books on pop culture and other non-business
topics, I have managed to turn many of my outside interests into
small profit centers, to partially alleviate my guilt when
indulging.)

3–Waterworld. This post-apocalyptic movie, about our entire
planet covered by water, though widely panned, is one of my
favorites; I never tire of it. Kevin Costner’s other
post-apocalyptic movie, The Postman, is a close runner-up with
me.

4–Bad weather. Dark days, cloudy skies, rain, snow, sleet, wind,
cold, and dreary weather all bring joy to my heart. Conversely, I
find sunny, warm days incredibly depressing.

5–Kosher salami on rye bread with mustard. This was my favorite
sandwich growing up as a kid. I hardly ever eat it now, because
it is not healthy, and also there is no nearby kosher deli. But I
absolutely love it, healthy or not.

6–Anime graphic novels. Lots of adults find anime silly. But my
youngest son gave me a few of his, and I am hooked. I don’t buy
them. But I borrow his whenever I can. As a kid, I watched 3
anime TV cartoons: Speed Race, Gigantor, and my favorite, Tobor
the 8 Man (yes, Tobor is robot spelled backward):

7–Newspapers. I know I can read the news online. But to me, there
are few pleasures greater than reading an actual paper newspaper.
When I was graduating from college in the late 1970s, I had
dreams of becoming a reporter. But it never happened.

8–Paperbound books. Especially old mass market paperbacks sold in
used bookstores; they have a great feel and unique (and to me
pleasant) smell. I also buy a lot of used hardcovers at library
sales, because I like the protective plastic covers.

9–Libraries and bookstores. Wherever there are books to be
browsed, borrowed, or bought, I am there. Remember the Twilight
Zone episode where Burgess Meredith comes into possession of all
the books he could ever hope to read along with all the time in
the world to read them? Sounds good to me. (Of course, a nuclear
war took place to make it happen, but what else could he do?)

10–Horror … books, short stories, movies, TV … like the old
Chiller Theater. Scary is good. Dark is good. Even gory can be
okay. I’m not particular. I just like a good horror movie. Or
even a grade B one. Favorites include David Slade, M. Knight
Shyamalan, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, and Wes Craven, to name
just a few.

So, what do you think of my picks and taste — good, bad,
terrible, or laughable? And tell me what YOU like!

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Category: General | 10 Comments »