The only 3 ways to become a better copywriter

January 16th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber GJ writes:

“How do I become a better copywriter? Do you have any suggestions
or tips?”

There are really only 3 ways I know to become a better
copywriter:

1–Write.

Start writing copy. Then keep on writing it.

Do class assignments. Write copy for clients … or your own
products … or both.

The key is to write a lot and never stop, as it takes around
10,000 hours of practice to become really great at copywriting or
any other skill.

2–Read.

With only one exception, every copywriter I know is an avid
reader and eager students of all sorts of subjects.

To become a better copywriter, you need in-depth knowledge of
your industry and market — which you can get in part through
reading.

You also become a better copywriter with a vast storehouse of
knowledge on many different topics, and you never know which will
become grist for the copywriting mill … and again, you get that
largely from reading.

3–Study.

Your studies are twofold.

First, study the craft of copywriting and the discipline of
marketing — through books, courses, seminars, conferences,
articles, and so on.

Second, study the promotions that are working in the marketplace.

Tip: if you see a promotion that is running over and over, study
it most carefully.

Why?

Because it must be working; otherwise, the marketer would not
keep using it.

These 3 tasks are not difficult, which is why I call them easy.

(And by that I only mean that the learning is easy. The
successful “doing” can be very hard.)

They all involve reading and writing, which if you are a writer,
is in all probability fun for you.

But, while you can learn the basics of copywriting fairly
quickly, you can then spend a lifetime honing your skills; I work
on mine every day of the year.

Which is why I did not say becoming a great copywriter is quick.

But it is fun.

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Category: Success, Writing | 3 Comments » |

9 reasons to market yourself by writing articles

January 12th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber DK writes:

“How much stock, if any, do you put in the strategy of putting
articles on-line (or elsewhere) for free?”

Answer: a lot.

I wrote my first article for one of the marketing trade
publications when I launched my freelance copywriting business in
1982.

And I’ve been writing articles to promote my copywriting
business, info products, and books continually since then right
up to this day — and I still do it.

Why?

Here are 9 specific ways you can profit by writing and placing
articles for free online and offline:

1–Builds your reputation as an expert in your field.

Writing how-to articles about your area of expertise helps
position you as a leading authority in your subject matter.

2–Makes great sales literature.

Whether in print or PDF, reprints of your published articles make
great sales literature.

I always recommend having one of your articles as part of the
standard information kit on your services or products.

Also, a PDF with 3 to 5 articles can be an effective lead magnet.

3–Pumps up your online bio.

If you have written for major consumer or industry print
magazines, or even top e-newsletters, say so in your bio.

It impresses prospects when you tell them you have been published
in the Harvard Business Review or even Hydrocarbon Processing
magazine.

4–Drives traffic to your site.

Editors typically include a URL or hyperlink to your website in
the short “about the author” paragraph that runs with your
article.

In this regard, publishing in online media can often out-perform
print, because online has a live hyperlink vs. print only offers
a URL that must be manually keyed into a browser.

5–Gets you free advertising (sometimes).

When a print or online publication doesn’t pay for articles, they
may be willing to give you something else instead — such as a
free ad in their magazine or e-newsletter, or a free banner on
their website.

Not all will. Others might agree to it, but only with authors who
specifically ask.

6–Raises your website’s search engine ranking.

Posting a lot of keyword-rich articles and other content on your
website can raise your ranking with Google and other search
engines.

7–Improves your workshops, seminars, and speeches.

Reprints of published articles with your byline make great
handouts at events where you are a speaker.

8–Broadens your knowledge.

Writing articles educates you as much as your readers.

It forces you to organize your thinking, dig deeper into your
topic, and gain a better understanding of your subject and your
audience.

9–Builds your content library.

The articles you have written for publication and now store on
your hard drive are your content “goldmine.”

You can and should continually recycle your articles. No need to
reinvent the wheel every time you write about your topic.

The key to getting maximum ROI from your content is to retain all
rights to everything you write.

Type “first rights only” in the upper left corner on page one of
every article you submit to any outlet. This way you remain in
control of the rights.

If you sign the rights away, you can’t recycle your material for
multiple uses — which dramatically lowers the ROI from your
article writing.

 

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Category: Direct Marketing, Online Marketing | 1 Comment » |

How far would you go to close a $29 sale?

January 9th, 2018 by Bob Bly

A few weeks ago, subscriber MP told me she read someone else’s
book on information marketing, followed the advice, and it did
not work.

And then she asked me, “How is your material any different?”

It sounds like a reasonable question, but I refused to answer it,
telling her “I have no interest in convincing you to buy my
material.”

You might think me rude in my reply, but I said it politely.

And there are three reasons why when anyone asks, “Why should I
buy your course instead of Mr. X’s?” I do not take the bait.

First, in most instances, I have not seen the competing product.

So how can I say how mine is different than that one
specifically?

(In MP’s case, I had not read nor even heard of the book she had
read.)

My usual response is to tell the person to read the sales page
describing my course.

That gives you everything you need to make an intelligent
decision about buying the product.

And then, you either buy it or you don’t.

I’m OK either way.

Also, I am not that sympathetic with people who are worried that,
after buying my info product, it won’t meet their needs.

That’s because I offer an unconditional 90-day guarantee of
satisfaction.

So there’s no risk to the buyer of any kind.

If they listen, watch, or read my info product and return it,
they get a prompt refund.

And they keep all the knowledge they gained — for free!

In essence, I am the one who has in a sense been “cheated.”

Because I have moved all the risk off the buyer’s shoulders and
onto mine.

But I don’t mind. That is the cost of doing business.

And if they can’t even pull the trigger on a $29 ebook with a
money-back guarantee and therefore ZERO purchase risk, well …

Then they probably don’t have the cojones do whatever business
the ebook teaches — so they are wise to walk away.

>> Second, there is the question of ROTI — return on time
invested.

Let’s say — although I charge by the project for my services, not
by the hour — it works out that I earn at minimum $250 an hour
working for my clients.

That’s about $4.17 a minute.

So if it takes me 10 minutes on the phone with MP to answer her
questions, I have spent almost $42 of my time to sell a $29
product — a net loss for me of nearly $13.

>> Third, I have no desire to be a “dancing monkey.”

A dancing monkey is a seller who will jump through hoops — and
say and do anything — to get the order.

There are a couple of reasons not to be a dancing monkey.

The first is: it’s a bit degrading and humiliation — comes close
to begging at times.

Second, it risks alienating many potential clients or customers.

That’s because many prospects are turned off by vendors who seem
desperate and in need of the money.

People would rather buy from someone who is busy and successful,
not someone who is needy and hungry.

Also, when it comes to info products, mine are reasonably priced
— many have said my prices are extremely low compared with others
in my markets.

So I have done my bit to help people improve their lives and
businesses at a fair price that doesn’t gouge them or break their
bank account.

And combined with the unconditional 3-month free trial I offer on
every info product I sell, my conscience is clear … and I sleep
well at night.

MP later wrote back saying, “I will buy it.”

Why?

I told her my bio and testimonials, which are on the sales page
of every info product I sell (see for example
www.theinternetmarketingretirementplan.com), should convince her
or not.

“I guess years and clients have proven you are right,” she
replied. And clicked the order button.

Now, there’s a copywriting lesson here, and it is this:

On your web sales pages, put the credibility right up front —
starting on the first screen.

Reason:

If your credentials are way into the copy in a long sales page,
the reader may never scroll that far down and see them — and
therefore, not buy and click away before ever discovering them.

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Upsell yourself to bigger profits

January 2nd, 2018 by Bob Bly

When I started my freelance copywriting career in the early
1980s, the most lucrative assignment was writing direct mail
packages to sell magazine subscriptions.

And perhaps the toughest assignment was the “free to paid
conversion” campaign.

This was a direct mail package designed to get people who
formerly received a magazine for free to now pay to subscribe.

Free-to-paid conversion is one kind of upsell, with an upsell
being any marketing that gets a customer who buys a less
expensive (or in this case free) product to buy a more expensive
product.

Now, thanks to the internet, upselling in general is much easier,
faster, and more profitable.

A case in point: Classmates Guestbook.

This is a great website that connects people who went to the same
high school and especially those who were in the same class.

You can look at some of the content and post your profile there
for free to update your classmates on what you are up to.

Then, when a classmate looks at your profile, Classmates
Guestbook notifies you by email.

But, the person’s name and image are blurry.

So you can’t actually see who has checked up on you … unless you
upgrade your Classmates Guestbook status from free to a paid
monthly subscription.

It’s a brilliant upsell, though there have been many smart upsell
programs both pre and post internet.

The classic at Mickey D’s, which has become iconic, is: “Do you
want fries with that?”

In MaryEllen Tribby’s online newsletter, she says this upsell
increased sales of fries at McDonald’s 15%.

And in fact, the fast food chain sells 9 million pounds of fries
worldwide each and every day of the year.[1]

An even more effective upsell was from the copywriter or brand
manager who first wrote these words on a shampoo bottle:

“Rinse. Lather. Repeat.”

This simple consumption doubled the consumer’s usage and purchase
of shampoo for a 100% upsell.

Arm and Hammer baking soda had a similar classic upsell with
their ad campaign extolling consumers to buy a second box of
baking soda to put in your refrigerator for absorbing odors.

For ecommerce businesses, the proven upsell strategy is to serve
the buyer a page with an upsell offer right before or at the
point of checkout.

We recently promoted a $19 ebook; when buyers went to the
shopping cart, they were upsold to an audio course.

The course is regularly $47, but the upsell offers it for only
$28, and about one out of three ebook purchasers takes the upsell
offer.

Opposite of the upsell is another offer that can work: the
downsell.

For instance, decades ago, a company sold a business opportunity
where for a high price you could buy a “business in a box”
selling gold chains, necklaces, and baubles at flea markets, swap
meets, and such.

When someone responded to their ads in business opportunity
magazines but did not buy after getting a series of mailers, the
next mailer offered a scaled-down “start-up” kit for a fraction
of the price of the full business kit.

In restaurants, the downsell to a full racks of ribs is the half
rack.

But that usually bothers me, because although I don’t want to eat
too much, I also don’t like feeling I am getting ripped off —
which is how I feel when a rack is $17.99 and a half-rack is
$14.99.

Once, when we were eating out and the server pointed out this
pricing to me on the menu, I replied, “If the rack is $17.99 and
the half-rack is $14.99, can I get the other half for the
remaining $3?”

The only people less amused than our server were my wife and
kids.

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Category: General, Online Marketing | 2 Comments » |

5 books I really enjoyed reading this year

December 27th, 2017 by Bob Bly

I am a reading addict and hooked on books — so I read a LOT of
books in a year.

Here are 5 books I really enjoyed this year and you may too in
2018:

#1–“Battlefield Earth” by L. Ron Hubbard (Galaxy Press) — a
sprawling space opera about humanity’s courageous rebellion
against technologically and physically superior aliens who
enslave Earth. (Disclosure: Galaxy Press is a client of mine, but
did not pay me to write this.)

#2–“Lucky Us” by Amy Bloom (Random House) — two stepsisters make
their way in the world living unconventional lives.

#3–“Horoscopes for the Dead” by Billy Collins (Random House) — if
you enjoy Billy Collins’ poetry as I do, then you will probably enjoy
this quite, contemplative, slim volume as did, too.

#4–“The World of Raymond Chandler” edited by Barry Day (Knopf)
— excerpts from Chandler’s writing, interviews, and correspondence
edited into an autobiography mostly in his own words with some
added commentary by editor Barry Day.

#5–“Charles Bukowski on Writing” edited by Abel Debritto
(HarperCollins) — the novelist and poet gives his thoughts on
writing.

Happy New Year

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Get others to sell your products — without commission

December 26th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Subscriber MI writes:

“‘Influencer marketing’ drives me crazy. Many outdoor
businesses are joining the trend to hire athletes to promote
their products.

“At an industry conference, I asked one ad agency rep what the
return on investment was on influencer marketing. His response
was void of examples. He told me it boils down to brand
awareness.

“I think there are better ways to sell because influencers fail
to mention ‘what’s in it’ for consumers who use the products they
are sponsoring.

“I’m an outdoor recreation junkie, so I’ve been using the gear
and clothing these athletes are promoting for decades. But
instead of telling me how to use rock climbing gear more
efficiently so I can climb faster, influencers tell me stories
about their climbing adventures.

“I could be missing something, but I don’t understand the draw to
use this marketing strategy.”

Let me see whether I can give a quick answer here….

To begin with, an “influencer” is a person who can influence the
actions, behaviors, and opinions of others.

Influencers exert their sway online primarily through blogs,
online newsletters, content, and social media including Facebook
posts, Pinterest boards, YouTube videos, Tweets, Instant posts,
Snapchat stories, and more.

Influencer marketing works because, as shown in research from
Nielsen, more than 8 out of 10 people use recommendations they
got online from an influencer to make a purchase decision.

The leverage online is this: If you just tell a neighbor you like
a particular bar in your city, you’ve influenced that one
neighbor.

Back in the day, we called this simply “word of mouth
advertising” … or in business and professional services “referral
marketing.”

But a bar blogger who recommends a pub can influence hundreds of
his readers to give that watering hole a try — so influencer
marketing is often more effective online than offline.

For instance, Ace Hair enlisted actor Josh Peck, who has over 4
million Instagram followers, as an influencer.

The most effective offline influencer marketing is through people
who reach a wide audience in traditional print media — magazines
and newspapers — as reviewers, critics, columnists, or other
trusted resources who recommend products and services.

Why does influencer marketing work? According to the 2016
Influencer Marketing Guide, “Influencers draw passionate audience
that engage with their content and actively take part in the
community conversations that stem from it.”

An article in Forbes reports that 85% of marketing communications
professionals worldwide will launch at least one influencer
marketing campaigns within the next 12 months.

Done right, influencer marketing is like having another team of
sales reps out there selling your product or service for you —
only in most cases they are doing so for free.

And they are often your most effective sales reps, because they
are credible experts or respected celebrities, and their
recommendation of your product more effective because it is an
endorsement.

I wish I could steer you to a report or info product of mine on
influencer marketing, but it is largely outside my wheelhouse and
so I have none.

If you offer or can recommend resources on influencer marketing,
please email me at rwbly@bly.com so I can share them with your
fellow Direct Response Letter Subscribers. Thanks!

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Category: Direct Marketing, General, Online Marketing | 4 Comments » |

5 ways to profit from a powerful USP

December 22nd, 2017 by Bob Bly

You probably already know what a USP is.

But many people say to me, “Yes, I know what a USP — but why
would I need one? What is it good for? If I had a USP, how would
it help my business?”

Well, here are 5 specific areas where having a USP can make your
job easier while improving your business results:

1–Selling.

One of the toughest objections in selling is, “Why should we buy
blue widgets from you instead of our existing supplier or your
other competitors?”

With a USP, you can confidently and immediately respond with a
powerful, well-thought-out presentation of why you are different,
better, and the smart purchase decision.

2–Marketing.

We are taught to stress benefits in marketing, but if every
marketer in the field makes the same benefit claim, how can your
campaign possibly stand out?

The answer: formula a great USP and feature it in your ads,
letters, websites, and newsletters.

3–Content marketing.

We know content marketing is hot right now.

Well, one of the best applications is to create a white paper
clearly articulating the USP, and offer it as a lead magnet.

Doing so takes your USP from a brief differentiating factor to
blowing it out in a more well-reasoned, credible, in-depth
argument for why we are better than the competition.

4–Email marketing.

Offer an e-class — an auto-responder series of content-rich
emails educating your prospects on the details of your USP.

If your USP is strong, true, and sincere, it should go a long way
toward moving prospects on your e-list further along the sales
cycle.

5–Telemarketing

Your telemarketing reps face a tough, uphill battle on a long
road fraught with difficulty and disappointment.

But a well-crafted USP can help them turn things about — by
saying right up front something different and important that
catches prospects off guard and gets them to listen a bit more.

This simple 5-point checklist is just the tip of the iceberg. But
it should be a sufficient idea-starter list on the road to
maximizing ROI from your existing or new USP.

By the way, here’s an article I wrote explaining how to create a winning
USP:

http://www.bly.com/newsite/Pages/DMNCOL12.htm

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The worst thing about being an info marketer online

December 19th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Recently subscriber SP wrote to me and said:
“Bob, I purchased your e-book 3 days ago, and the status of the
order is pending. Would you please tell me when I will receive
my purchase?”

The day before, another subscriber and customer, SH, also emailed
to ask me where was the e-book he had ordered a couple of days
prior.

This happens all the time. Why?

Not because we didn’t send the e-book the customer ordered
promptly.

We did.

In fact, a link to download is automatically sent via
auto-responder to everyone within minutes of their purchase — no
exceptions.

What SP, SH, and so many others don’t get is that the reason they
didn’t get the e-books they order is on their end — typically, an
overzealous spam filter, Internet Services Provider (ISP),
corporate firewall, or other technical barrier to delivery.

Yet, I know from numerous email exchanges that, even if
customers are polite in their inquiries … and they almost always
are … when I ask them — well yes, they really did assume, though
they are not irritated, that for some reason we did not send the
product they asked for.

Makes no sense, but in cases of non-receipt of product in every
business, the customer always assumes the fault is that of the
seller — though it is virtually always one of the reasons I just
stated.

So I am reaching out to all of you info marketers who subscribe
to my emails to ask one simple question:

If you also have this “where’s the info product I ordered”
problem, how do you handle it?

Now, you may be wondering how I respond to SP, SH, and others who
ask, “Where’s my info product?”

Simple. I don’t.

I forward their complaint to my customer service manager JV.

Here’s how she responded to SH:

“I’m sorry that you had trouble receiving your e-book and also in
leaving voice mail for me.

“In fact I had received your email. I responded to that yesterday
morning and sent you a new download link along with the PDF for
your purchase. My apologies if you are not receiving these
messages from me.

“I’m attaching the PDF for your e-book to this email and if you
could, please confirm once you have received it. I’ll also
resend the download link again as well.

“Please let me know if you need anything else.”

And that’s it. Easy peasy. As the kids say, “No biggish.”

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Category: Online Marketing | 10 Comments » |