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Ideas without action: worthless or valuable?

July 13th, 2018 by Bob Bly

My fellow internet marketer, the brilliant Ben Settle, recently
wrote that he doesn’t like selling his information to
“opportunity-minded buyers,” more commonly known as “opportunity
seekers.”

The classic opportunity seeker is addicted to business success
and get-rich-quick books.

They love to read, attend conferences, go on webinars, listen to
podcasts, and take courses.

They are “information junkies.”

Unfortunately, they are, for the most part, armchair students.

They enjoy learning.

Only, they never take any action, never do what is taught in
their study materials, never start a business, and never make any
money.

Ben says, “I do everything I can to persuade them NOT to buy my
stuff.

“I don’t want ’em around.

“I don’t want their money.

“And, I don’t want them wasting my time.”

When I read this, I emailed Ben:

“I used to feel as you do, for many years.

“But some people, I found, simply enjoy, as a hobby, reading
business books and taking courses.

“They just are interested in the world of it and also like
learning, but don’t actually want to do the nitty gritty work and
details.”

Why deny them their reading pleasure?

I don’t.

Statistically, if a thousand people buy your money-making
program, only 10% will read it all the way through — 100 buyers.

Of those 100 buyers, only 10% will take action and actually do
the thing the course teaches — 10 students.

Of those 10 students, only 10% will persist until they succeed.

In other words, 1 out of 1,000 “make it.”

Your numbers may be better or worse … but they will likely fall
roughly in this range.

So 999 have just bought for reading and learning pleasure.

And what’s wrong with that?

People read about and study all sort of subjects, all the time,
just for the intellectual reward and to find something that
excites and engages with them, and entertains them in their
leisure time.

That’s why we have public libraries, bookstores, and Amazon.

After all, no one faults me for reading books on physics even
though I am not going to become a physicist.

Like Ben, my greatest reward is the student who succeeds and
tells me about it.

But I have no problem with people doing what they will with my
books, DVDs, audio CDs, and training programs.

It’s their money and their choice, right?

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Category: General | 45 Comments »

Should you give “influencer bloggers” free stuff?

July 6th, 2018 by Bob Bly

“Influencer bloggers” are bloggers who claim that, with all their
social media connections and activity, they can give a service
business, product, or brand significant “exposure” in the
marketplace.

What many of them want in return are freebies, and not always
inexpensive ones. These include free meals in five-star
restaurants, free stays in nice hotels, free products, and other
freebies.

Well, in a recent social media flap, the owner of an inn in
Dublin slapped an “influencer blogger” on Facebook for asking him
for a free stay for a couple of days in exchange for her
influencer services.

He stated: “The sense of entitlement is just too strong … and the
nastiness after a blogger was not granted her request for a
freebie is giving the whole (blogging) industry a bad name.”

As a result, this innkeeper now bans all bloggers from his hotel
and café.

The offending freeloader in question defended what she did,
stating that social media influencer is her “job.”

She also said that her business model — blasting out positive
reviews widely on social media in exchange for free goods and
services — is a “collaboration” between blogger and business
owner.

She complained that the hotel and café manager didn’t understand
the social media world or how it works.

Well guess what?

He doesn’t have to.

Whether she thinks he is making a mistake turning down her demand
for free stuff, it’s his right to do so. Do these blogging
mooches really not get that?

The café manager shot back at freebie-requesting bloggers:
“Perhaps if you went out and got real jobs, you’d be able to pay
for goods and services like everybody else.”

It’s true that some companies routinely offer free samples or
review copies of products to TV and radio producers, newspapers,
and magazines.

The difference is that the circulation of the print media and the
audience of the broadcast media are strictly audited and
therefore no secret, but rather published so that anyone can see.

Most bloggers, on the other hand, don’t have verified audit
statements to prove their audience. You have to take their word
for it.

Also, bloggers can get downright militant about getting denied
their freebies, and victimize the offending business with nasty
posts and negative reviews — as if the business owner is
obligated to give away what he sells to anyone and everyone who
asks.

Writer Harlan Ellison calls this the “slacker mentality” on the
internet.

He says it sickens him. And I don’t love it, either. A sense of
entitlement? Absolutely. Justified? Hardly.

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Category: General | 142 Comments »

When clients don’t follow your recommendations

July 3rd, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber KS writes:

“I’d like to be taken seriously for my experience and knowledge,
and yet I can’t seem to convince clients to do as I recommend.

“Bob, do you have any advice on convincing clients to listen to
your recommendations?”

KS may not like my answer, but the fact is clients will never do
everything you say.

HB, a famous consultant in the 20th century, once famously said:
“Only half my clients take my advice, and of those, they listen
to only half the advice.”

If you do the arithmetic, you see that only 25% of HB’s advice to
his clients — and he was a well-respected expert in his niche of
management — was followed.

Likewise, figure only 25% of your advice will be followed,
meaning 75% won’t be.

And in some cases, client reasons for ignoring or going against
your recommendations are legitimate and the correct decision.

What are those reasons? I’ll give them for freelance copywriters,
though many may apply to you, even if you are not a writer.

>> First, the client may have already tried what you suggest,
often multiple times — and it did not work.

Not being on staff, you didn’t know this when you presented your
idea. But they did, since clients have a knowledge of their
efforts and results superior to yours.

>> Second, the client virtually always knows their industry,
product, technology, talent, and market better than you do.

>> Third, as Tom Peters said in In Search of Excellence, people
don’t argue with their own data. They may trust you to a degree.
But they usually trust themselves more.

>> Fourth, you get your fee no matter what. You risk nothing on
the project. On the other hand, it is the client’s money, not
yours, on the table. There is a limit to what they will risk on a
new idea or plan, especially one they do not fully buy into.

>> Fifth, no one knows everything or is right all the time.
Including you and me.

Biggest mistake vendors make: Getting all huffy and puffy,
arguing with the client endlessly, and not listening when the
client says “thanks but no thanks” to your idea.

Solution: Defend your copy or idea reasonably and briefly; then,
if the client still does not agree, acquiesce pleasantly.

Also: If you think the client’s way will kill results, say so
politely in a brief email follow-up — and save a copy so you can
prove you advised against their plan if it should fail and they
blame you.

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Category: General | 87 Comments »

Why I’m content with the $29 sale

June 29th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber FB writes:

“Bob, just purchased an ebook from you with 199 pages of great
content.

“But why an ebook when you could have made this an ecourse and
sold it for far more?

“Did you sell far more copies at $29 than you would at a higher
price, resulting in greater gross revenues?

“I understand that creating an ebook is also faster and less work
than a course.

“I’m at the point of making this decision for myself. Thanks for
any feedback.”

My answer to FB is in 3 parts:

>>First, in info marketing or any other business, you should have
a line of products that are a mix of low, medium, and high in
price.

That way, you have something for every buyer — the frugal buyer
who thinks $29 is a lot to spend on information … as well as the
information junkie who buys $1,000 courses as fast as he can
click the Order Now button on his screen.

Also, many new customers prefer to “test the waters” of your
wares with an inexpensive first purchase. Then, if they like what
they get, they may go on to buy higher priced items.

>> Second is Fred Gleeck’s “Rule of 10,” which states that the
info products you sell should deliver value of at least 10 times
the purchase price.

It’s easier to adhere to this rule when selling an ebook for $29
vs. a video course for $2,000. Oh, you can do both. But the more
costly your product, the more difficult it is to deliver value
10X in excess of its price.

>> Third, FB is right: One reason I like ebooks is that they are
quick and easy to produce.

High-priced information products often have multiple elements —
including video, written guides, webinars, coaching, and other
components.

So they are more difficult and time-consuming to produce and
deliver. And for someone like me who runs a spare-time info
marketing business, and is not a full-time info publisher, that’s
a problem.

My solution: I do all my high-end info products with various
joint venture (JV) partners.

Splitting the work makes it possible for me. And it enables me to
offer my subscribers more in-depth training than I could do on my
own.

In joint ventures, I typically provide the content. My partner
handles everything else including production, order processing,
fulfillment, and administrative and technical duties.

Then we split the net revenues 50-50. Simple and it works for
both me and them.

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Category: General | 54 Comments »

How to cope with the ups and downs of business

June 8th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber MF writes:

“Right now I am having a very slow month — slowest in the history of
my firm.

“Bob, how do you or others manage the psychology of ups and downs
in business?”

This answer to this question has two parts.

First, instead of “managing” your worry and concern, why not just
get rid of those anxiety-causing slow times altogether?

And yes, there is in fact something you can do to either totally
avoid slow times … or failing that, certainly minimize their
frequency and duration, so it becomes a non-issue.

It’s my “double pipeline” lead generation strategy.

In a nutshell, you figure out how much lead-generating
self-promotion you need to generate enough inquiries to keep you
busy.

And then you do twice that amount of marketing!

By doing so, you will have two times as many potential new
clients and projects as you need.

So if Prospect W doesn’t come through, you don’t agonize over it
— because Prospects X, Y, and Z are waiting in the wings, ready
to pull the trigger on your services.

Second, have multiple streams of income.

That way, if your primary business gets soft for a time, then
instead of worrying about it … or sitting around with nothing to
do …

…you focus one of your other profit centers until the lull in
your main business is over.

That way, you are still productive — and you still have money
coming in.

Now, admittedly, these two strategies don’t actually address the
“psychology” MF asked me about.

But consider: You can use the first tactic to prevent or reduce
to near-zero slow times.

And with the second, you don’t really care if your main profit
center is in a slump, because you can stay active and profitable
with your other money makers.

In other words — problem solved.

Alfred E. Neuman famously asked: “What — me worry?”

And now, you don’t have to.

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Category: General | 72 Comments »

Is paying rock-bottom prices an awful mistake?

June 5th, 2018 by Bob Bly

A few weeks ago, while in a doctor’s waiting room, an interesting
and nice gent named BC sat next to me, and we struck up a
conversation.

BC is from Scotland and is 92 years old. He revealed to me that
he came to the U.S. in his youth and started a furniture business
in Manhattan, which became very successful and grew to 5 stores.

He asked me if I wanted to know his #1 success secret, and when I
said yes, told me it was simply that he paid wages 20% higher
than any of his competitors.

The reason, he explained, was to keep good employees happy so
that they stayed with him and did not look around for a better
opportunity or jump ship when given jobs offers by other
businesses.

I think this is actually a very big point. Let me explain….

Many of us are essentially price buyers, meaning we get three
quotes, and invariably pick the service provider with the lowest
price.

In essence, we are saying that low price is the most important
factor in our purchase decision, ranking ahead of customer
service, quality of work, reliability, promptness, and contractor
expertise and know-how.

Isn’t that kind of stupid?

Smarter buyers of business, trade, professional, technical, and
health care services look for the best value — not the best
price.

I mean, say you had a tumor in your cranium, needed brain
surgery, and went to three neurosurgeons for opinions.

The first says the operation is $30,000. The second charges
$32,000. And the third, whose neurosurgery practice is called
Brains ‘R Us, quotes a fee of $300.

It’s certainly the low price. But would you go with it? I think
not.

Price buying leads to crappy work from inferior vendors often
found on Upwork and Fiverr, among other online service sites.

People who patronize such sites often look for the low-priced
vendor, usually to their regret.

So why do so many people always look for the low price in so much
else they buy?

I love this quote from John Ruskin: “There is hardly anything in
the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a
little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this
man’s lawful prey.”

There was a cartoon in a magazine showing two barbershops. The
sign in the window of the first said, “$5 haircuts.”

The sign in the window of the second barbershop said, “We fix $5
haircuts.”

I have certainly spent a significant portion of my time over the
years fixing $100 copy.

Back to BC….

He also told me the internet killed his furniture business, in
which his specialty was providing high-end furniture for wealthy
Manhattan businesspeople looking to furnish their entire large
apartment.

In his heyday, said BC, these customers trusted his judgment. And
so they loved the furniture he sold them and kept it forever.

But when the web came along, these customers saw that e-commerce
furniture dealers allowed returns, refunds, and exchanges if the
customer didn’t love the furniture when it was delivered.

Because of that, all of a sudden BC was inundated with calls from
customers who wanted to send back the furniture and try out
something else.

It was so expensive and so labor-intensive, and he hated it so
much, he soon closed the store chain and retired.

It seems that the internet is a mixed blessing for business.

For some industries it’s great. For others it is terrible. For still others,
it is somewhere in the middle, with both many pros and many cons.

JM, who blames the web in part for the closure of his New Mexico
bookstore, says, “People were happy when they came in, but wanted
us to have the resources and pricing of online or they would not
buy.”

For those who embrace the internet, and don’t love bookstores or
brick and mortar, BC’s and JM’s woes mean little.

But writer LD echoes the sentiments of many when she writes, “A
town without a bookstore is a town without a soul.”

And I like a local furniture store, too.

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Category: General | 85 Comments »

Why low-priced training isn’t always a bargain

May 11th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Regular readers of the Direct Response Letter know that I tend to
favor lower prices on information products — both my own and
others.

Yet despite that, I have to warn you that there is one major
drawback or risk of taking low-priced training.

And that is uneven and unreliable quality.

For instance, back in the day, I taught at the Learning Annex in
New York City, which offers courses on many interesting topics at
low cost.

As an instructor, I could take the occasional course for free,
which I did.

And while some of them were excellent, a few were taught by
subpar seminar leaders — who, as a former Annex instructor
myself, I know were paid very little.

Outside of NYC, I’ve had somewhat less luck with inexpensive
courses offered at local high schools and adult education
programs.

For instance, pre-internet, I had a traditional mail order
business selling paper-and-ink reports and books, which I ran out
of my basement.

The reports were “typeset” on an ordinary IBM Selectric
typewriter in Prestige Elite and “printed” on my office
photocopier.

The covers were actually typeset by a typographer and photocopied
on green paper, to add a more “expensive” look to the reports.

Anyway, to improve my business, I signed up for what looked like
a promising course — “How to Make Money in Mail Order at Home in
Your Spare Time” — at a local community college.

But when I got there, the instructor picked up a textbook and
began reading in a monotone, “Mail order marketing is defined
as….”

And I realized: she was just a business professor at the college,
and she had never operated a mail order business in her life.

She knew nothing about mail order outside of what she had read in a
textbook, which became immediately apparent to the bored and — as
she nervously kept reading — increasingly dissatisfied students.

Finally, I got up the courage to raise my hand — and when called
upon politely asked her, “Do you actually have your own mail
order business?”

She admitted she did not. I asked if anyone else in the classroom
did, and no one raised their hand.

“Well, I do,” I said, asking her, “Do you want me to teach the
course?”

She said yes, and I did.

Maybe I wasn’t great.

But my fellow classmates seemed thrilled to get first-hand
guidance in mail order by someone who had actually done it.

And the professor was obviously relieved at not having to fake
her way through material she clearly knew nothing about.

Now, if you take low-priced local training — which, unlike
courses you buy online, do not issue a refund if you are not
satisfied — you don’t risk much money.

But of course, you do risk wasting your time, which is arguably
even more precious.

So how can you profitably learn from “cheap” training in your own
backyard, without getting too badly burned?

Easy: Simply ask if the teacher is an active practitioner in the
topic.

For instance, if the course is about bookkeeping, is she or has
she been a bookkeeper? If it’s about training a puppy, is she a
vet, dog trainer, or even a dog walker?

If the answer is no, run.

Why?

Because if the instructor is a professor or other teacher, but
has never done the thing being taught, you are getting theory —
which in practical subjects like parenting, pet care,
bookkeeping, tax preparation, small business, or marketing, is
fairly worthless.

And the teacher being a great lecturer won’t make up for it: The
course might be enjoyable, but you won’t learn much that is
useful.

On the other hand, an instructor who is an active participant in
the field can pass on his “expensive experience” to you — giving
you a fast start and saving you from going down the wrong roads.

The expertise and rock-solid knowledge can more than make up
for the teacher perhaps not being the best seminar presenter.

And if she is not only a genuine expert but also a good lecturer —
as experts often are, in my experience — then you’ve struck
learning gold.

Online, you are a bit safer, because if the course is not to your
liking, you can — at least from an honest seller — get your money
back.

Locally, though, you — as the old saying goes — “pays your money
and you takes your chances.”

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Category: General | 51 Comments »

Why I avoid meetings like the plague

May 8th, 2018 by Bob Bly

The other day, I got an e-newsletter with the lead article
titled, “How to Improve ROI from Your Business Meetings.”

And my immediate thought was: that’s easy — don’t HAVE business
meetings!

In my nearly 4 decades in business, I have yet to find a bigger
waste of time than face-to-face meetings … with the possible
exception of social media.

Back in the day, pre-email, pre-internet, and pre-skype, I did go
to some meetings with local clients here in NJ.

For out-of-state clients, we typically had the meeting over the
phone.

And guess what?

I consistently found that we could accomplish the same thing in a
20 to 30-minute phone call with the distant clients …

…as I did in a 2-hour face-to-face meeting with local clients.

And 2 hours was the actual meeting time. When you added in the
round-trip car ride — an hour each way — the meeting took 4
hours, or half a day of my time.

So now, no matter whether the client is down the block or in
Australia, our meeting is via phone, email, or Skype.

I just don’t meet with people in person, unless they are willing
to pay a hefty fee to do so. And often not even then.

My Facebook friend PO writes: “Business meetings are the death
knell of profitability, productivity, and employee morale —
senseless.”

Another FB friend, BM, cites a study about meetings from the
Organizational Development group at MIT.

This computer-simulation study concluded that the optimum number
of people to have in a business meeting for maximum productivity
is 1.3 — which can mean just me if I’ve gained some weight!

DG comments, “Business meetings should be concise and pertinent.
And if they fill up someone’s calendar, my suspicion increases as
to their necessity and value.”

JF opines: “The bigger the organization, the less productive the
meetings in my overall experience.”

JL says this about meetings: “If you take an hour’s salary
for each person in the room plus the cost of someone making an
agenda and a report and then compare that with what came out of
it, you’d have to ask yourself why you did that. Meetings: yuk,
gag, awful.”

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Category: General | 78 Comments »