Archive for September, 2005

Why I Don?t Believe in SEO Copywriting

September 29th, 2005 by Bob Bly

?SEO (Search Engine Optmization) copywriting? requires that the copywriter concern himself with strategic placement of key words within his Web copy to optimize search engine rankings of the pages he writes.

The problem is that to create really powerful copy, you have to have a single core audience in mind ? and concentrate all your effort on writing to that one audience.

When I write copy, that audience is the prospect ? the potential buyer of the product I am selling.

But with SEO copywriting, you are pandering to another ?audience? ? the search engines ? and not the reader.

And by creating copy that?s optimal for attracting search engines, you are, to some degree, weakening that copy?s power to sell ? diluting its strength ? because you are worrying about two audiences: the reader and the search engines ? instead of focusing every word on the customer.

And that?s not how to write copy that sells.

I think the best approach is:

1. Write the strongest selling copy you can aimed at the human reader ? and forget the search engines.

2. Once that copy is finished, go back and check to make sure key words are appropriately placed, but?.

3. Never change a word of strong selling copy if that change will make it even one iota weaker ? even if SEO best practices would endorse that change.

In other words, write for the customer ? and not SEO.

My small poll of top copywriters ? writers with a proven track record of writing winners ? agree.

?I?d rather invest my time and energy in [writing] interesting, informative, and fact-filled copy,? says Gary Bencivenga.

Parris Lampropoulos doesn?t even think about search engines when writing copy:

?When I?m writing the copy, I?m working at one task and one task only: to get whoever is reading it to place the order.?

To which I add: Right on!

Of course, I?m sure you have your own opinion on SEO and copywriting. So: what say you?

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Category: Online Marketing | 58 Comments »

Do People Buy Based on Emotion or Logic?

September 26th, 2005 by Bob Bly

A new study from the University of Texas, reported in NewScientist (9/17/05, p. 13), indicates that emotion may actually play a role in helping people remember factual information.

In the study, 57 volunteers were shown a disturbing film about a surgical procedure, then asked questions about their emotional state and their memory of events in the film.

Researchers found that subjects who made the most effort to keep their emotions in check had the worst recall for what they had seen.

By logical extension, sales copy that stimulates an emotional response should also translate into better recall of product facts and sales arguments.

In that way, emotion helps logic sell.

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Category: General | 62 Comments »

Is Price the Most Important Selling Attribute?

September 22nd, 2005 by Bob Bly

In his new book ?Libey and Pickering on RFM and Beyond? (MeritDirect Press), Don Libey states: ?I believe price has become the dominant factor in business-to-business and consumer purchasing today.?

He attributes this to four causes:

1. The Wal-Martization of America.
2. The economic slow-down of 1999-2005.
3. The Internet.
4. Online price comparison technologies.

?All things being equal, customers will buy on price,? concludes Libey.

My problem is with the statement ?all things being equal.?

Of course if everything else is the same, and only the price is different, then price is the key factor.

But even in an age where products are increasingly commodities, all things are rarely if ever equal.

For instance, a Nissan Maxima is a Nissan Maxima, regardless of whom you buy it from.

But I might buy my Nissan Maxima from Dealer A instead of Dealer B because they are a mile closer to my home ? or they offer free loaners when my car is in the shop ? or the salesperson was friendly and didn?t pressure me ? or they had the color I wanted in stock ? or a friend raved about their service department ? even though their price was not the lowest.

After all, if you went to three cardiac surgeons for quotes on the triple bypass you need, and the three quoted, respectively, $10,000, $11,000, and $850 ? would you really buy the $850 operation?

Often a low price is a warning sign to the consumer that there?s something wrong with your product ? and as Don knows, in split tests, higher prices often beat lower ones for the same product.

What do you think? Are customers primarily price driven today? Or are other factors more important in making purchase decisions?

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Category: General | 261 Comments »

Bad PR for the PR Profession

September 18th, 2005 by Bob Bly

In her new book ?Bait and Switch,? Barbara Ehrenreich writes: ?PR is really journalism?s evil twin.?

?Whereas a journalist seeks the truth, a PR person may be called upon to disguise it or even to advance an untruth,? says Ehrenreich. ?If your employer, a pharmaceutical company, claims its new drug cures both cancer and erectile dysfunction, your job is to promote it, not to investigate the ground for these claims.?

PR practitioners: Is Barbara way out of line? Or right on target?

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Category: PR | 30 Comments »

Does Everybody Need an Editor?

September 15th, 2005 by Bob Bly

RH, who has edited a number of my books, recently noted in an e-mail to me, ?Everybody needs an editor!?

Copywriters, magazine writers, newspaper reporters, and book authors published by traditional publishing houses all have editors.

But self-published book authors, e-book authors, e-zine writers, and bloggers usually don?t: what they write goes straight from their PC to the reader, without being vetted by a third party.

I?ve often heard blogging enthusiasts derisively refer to ?edited content? when speaking of traditional publishing.

But is editing bad? I?ve always thought of editing as ?quality control? for the written word. And as a rule, give me good writing over bad any day.

What do you think? Do you prefer having your writing edited? Or left alone?

Would you rather read blogs and other ?unedited? writings? Or magazines and other formats where the text you are reading has passed through an editor?s ?quality inspection??

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Category: Writing | 50 Comments »

Is Marketing Sleazy?

September 13th, 2005 by Bob Bly

In his new book ?Irresistible Offers,? Mark Joyner writes:

?One could present a compelling case that marketing is destroying this planet. The average American goes deep into debt buying silly (and sometimes downright harmful) things that he simply does not need. This process has not just pushed the average consumer into debt; it has lowered his values as well.

?When you are bombarded with messages day after day that present a world where selfishness, shallowness, and greed are the ultimate ideals, it?s hard not to start believing that world is your own as well.?

Do you agree? Is marketing sleazy?

And if marketing is indeed sleazy, which marketers are the sleaziest? Direct marketers? Internet marketers? Cigarette companies? Car dealers? Attorneys?

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Category: General | 81 Comments »

Which Title Is Best?

September 6th, 2005 by Bob Bly

I just wrote a book on using content as a marketing tool ? specifically, how to market your products and services by giving away white papers and other free information offers. The book will be published next month.

Which title do you think is best ? and why?

A. The White Paper Marketing Handbook
B. The Edu-Marketing Revolution

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Category: General | 59 Comments »