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Archive for the 'Direct Marketing' Category

Are There Too Many Webinars?

January 19th, 2010 by Bob Bly

An article in BtoB (1/18/10, p. 21) says, “Given the plethora of webinars these days, it isn’t altogether surprising that some companies report a decline in attendee registration.”

I love webinars as an offer, especially in e-mail marketing. But can BtoB magazine be right? Is the market becoming oversaturated with webinars, just as some people say it is already oversaturated with white papers?

And if so, what offers can we use in BtoB lead generation in lieu of webinars and white papers? What other offers are in your bag of tricks for B2B lead gen?


Category: Direct Marketing | 30 Comments »

John Carlton Says Long Copy Works Best — Period.

June 20th, 2009 by Bob Bly

In my 6/14/09 post, I invited a debate on which works best — long copy vs. short copy.

But superstar copywriter John Carlton doesn’t thinks there’s much of a debate to be had.

“If I woke up tomorrow and realized the universe had changed in such a way that a decent sales pitch no longer required persuasion, proof, credibility, offers, and all the other classic ingredients, I’d be the first one writing short copy,” writes John in Early to Rise (6/20/09).

John disputes the Web 2.0 evangelists, who claim that you can create sales with just a smidgen of copy here and there, like dabs of gray ink in the colorful wonder of an over-designed web page.

“I don’t write long copy because I like long copy,” asserts John. “I write long copy because that’s what works.”

His formula for writing effective long copy promotions:

1–Start at the beginning of your sales message.
2–Cover the points your prospect needs to hear to make a decision.
3–Urge him toward the right decision — to buy your product.
4–Close with panache.

“When you can do that in a few terse sentences or in a single, brief, whiz-bang video, let me know,” concludes John. “I’m not holding my breath.”

Do you want to let John know that you AGREE with him — and that, online and offline, long copy is still king, even in this era of online video, Twitter, YouTube, sound bytes, Susan Boyle, and child-like attention spans?

Or can you offer arguments and evidence to prove John wrong by showing that short copy sites, videos, and the like can sometimes clobber long copy?

What say you?

Source: Early to Rise, 6/20/09.


Category: Direct Marketing | 85 Comments »

What Direct Mail Response Rate Do You Need for Your Campaign to Break Even?

June 12th, 2009 by Bob Bly

“Break-even” is the response rate a direct mail must generate to produce sales revenues equal to the cost of the mailing.

But what is that response rate for your mailing? It depends on 5 factors:

* Postage.
* Printing.
* Letter shop charges.
* List rental cost.
* Price of product being sold.
* Cost of goods for product.

You can input these factors here and have my free DM ROI software instantly calculate the response rate you need to achieve break-even:


Category: Direct Marketing | 15 Comments »

Does Humor Work in Selling?

June 6th, 2009 by Bob Bly

Should we use humor in selling?

The reason not to is fairly compelling:

Of all writing, humor is the most subjective.

Therefore, what you think is funny may leave your reader cold.

To prove that humor is subjective, I submit for your approval my 10 favorite comedy films of all time:

1?Dirty Work.
2?Rat Race.
3?Billy Madison.
4?Men in Black.
5?Scary Movie 3.
6?40 Year Old Virgin.
7?Wedding Crashers.
8?Austin Powers.
9?The Naked Gun.
10?Anchor Man.

Now I ask you: How many of these are also on your list? Not many, I bet.

Which of your favorite comedies did I leave off the list?

How many do you actually think are NOT funny? Probably one or two — proving my thesis that humor is indeed subjective.


Category: Direct Marketing | 88 Comments »

Should Direct Mail Design be Ugly?

July 1st, 2008 by Bob Bly

“Ugly works” in direct mail design, writes my colleague Denny Hatch in his latest column in Target Marketing (7/08, p. 50).

His premise: direct mail should be intentionally designed to look ugly and junky, because it will increase response.

The reason (here Denny quotes his former boss Lew Smith): “Neatness rejects involvement. If a thing is too neat, a reader will look at it and say, ‘Isn’t that nice?’ and move on.”

Old school DM experts have preached the “ugly direct mail design is best” rule for decades.

But … I can’t help noticing that most of the winning direct mail promotions that cross my desk today are not ugly. They are cleanly designed and easy to read — not at all “junky.”

So let me ask you, Gentle Reader: which school do you stand with?

Do you, like Denny, deliberately create direct mail packages that look crude, ugly, and cluttered — in the belief that “ugly works”?

Or do you find today’s direct mail prospects respond better to a more professional and sophisticated graphic approach?


Category: Direct Marketing | 23 Comments »

Satisfaction Guaranteed? Not at Harry’s Orchards.

October 17th, 2007 by Bob Bly

I got in the mail today a catalog from Harry’s Orchards, a company that sells premium fruit by mail.

The guarantee on the inside front cover says that the product comes with their “bonded guarantee of your complete satisfaction.”

“Bonded guarantee” sounds impressive but lacks specifics.

So I called, and it turns out that there is almost NO guarantee of satisfaction.

If you order the delicious looking fruit photographed in the catalog, but it turns out to be not so delicious, you’re stuck with it: Harry’s won’t give you your money back.

Would you still buy knowing that their “bonded guarantee” offers no protection against potential dissatisfaction with quality or taste.

(The customer service rep did tell me they’d refund my money if the fruit was rotten, but that wasn’t my concern.)

Or would you, like me, pass Harry’s Orchards by … and get your oranges and grapefruits at the grocery store?


Category: Direct Marketing, General | 57 Comments »

Do Puns Sell? (Or, “This Makes Me See Red”)

June 21st, 2007 by Bob Bly

The Economist recently sent me a promotion that flies in the face of conventional wisdom for what works in direct mail selling magazine subscriptions:

1. It’s a self-mailer.

2. The whole thing is white type on red paper stock.

3. Even though it’s an oversize mailer, it’s mainly blank space with just a headline and one short paragraph of copy.

4. It’s a pun. The headline says “Passionately Red” — and remember, the whole mailer is bright red.

Yet, I suspect it may be working, since I THINK I got this — or something close to it — once before from The Economist.

Anyone out there get the Economist’s “red” mailing and have any thoughts on whether and why it works?

Anyone out there associated with the Economist who can tell us the results on this piece?


Category: Direct Marketing, General | 16 Comments »

Is Direct Mail Obsolete?

May 21st, 2007 by Bob Bly

I’ve been raked over the coals by blogging evangelists and branding consultants all over the Internet.

They call me a “dinosaur” because I am a direct mail guy — derisively referring to direct marketing as “intrusion marketing,” implying it is old hat and ineffective, and stating that blogging, branding, and the like are what’s in and what’s working in B2B marketing today.

Not so, according to an article in BtoB (5/7/07, p. 3.), which notes that 42.9% of B2B marketers’ total budgets go to direct marketing — while only 16.1% is allocated to brand advertising.

Within direct response, direct mail receives the largest budget share — 27.5%.

The smallest share of total budget, a mere 1.5%, goes to “new media — RSS, blogs, and the like.”

Does this mean that branding and blogging don’t really work for B2B … or that they DO work, but B2B marcom managers haven’t gotten up to speed in these areas yet?

Are you surprised that B2B marketers spend more on good old-fashioned paper DM than they do on online marketing?

Could it be that B2B prospects are so bombarded online with blogs, e-mails, ads, and other Internet content, that a piece of paper in the mail breaks through the clutter?


Category: Direct Marketing, General | 45 Comments »