Archive for November, 2006

Read This Before You Die

November 29th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Think a “perpetual care” contract on a loved one’s grave means they will be taken care of forever?

Think again.

My American Heritage Dictionary defines “perpetual” as “lasting for eternity.”

But the U.S. cemetery industry has a different definition: “until the money runs out.”

When I signed an agreement for perpetual care of my father’s grave, I thought it would be maintained — well, forever.

But according to the NY State Cemetery Board, the cemetery may ask you for more money — or refuse to continue upkeep on the grave.

They can do so when the yield on your original fee for the service (the money is deposited in a special fund) does not generate enough income to provide adequate care.

Is this merely a matter of contractual fine print?

Or is the term “perpetual care” false advertising?

P.S. I was once called by a cemetery who wanted me to write an ad for them.

This headline immediately popped into my mind:

“DEAD?”

Of course it was not the one we used….

Source: NY Daily News, 11/28/06, p. 45.

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Category: General | 11 Comments »

Print Dead? Not Yet!

November 27th, 2006 by Bob Bly

The worst thing about the catalog business is the cost of printing and mailing all those catalogs.

So you’d think that catalog companies would drive all their sales online, and cut back on or eliminate print catalogs altogether.

Not happening.

According to the Associated Press (11/26/06), L.L. Bean expects to mail a staggering quarter of a billion catalogs this year — up 50 million from the 200 million they mailed 2 years ago.

Reason: “It is the best way for us to get lasting impressions in front of our customers,” says Bean spokesman Rich Donaldson.

“Most customers hang onto catalogs for weeks, using them for reference, making them far more valuable than Web-based marketing,” concludes the AP report.

So are print catalogs here to stay?

Or is this only a temporary reprieve, until the generation being born today — who are growing up with computers and the Internet, not print, as their primary information source — comes of age?

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Category: General, Writing and the Internet | 37 Comments »

What is a Domain name worth?

November 14th, 2006 by Bob Bly

The owner of the domain name www.hell.com recently offered it for sale with a minimum price of $1 million.

No takers.

Not surprising. After all, who wants to tell their prospects, “Go to hell”?

The owner of www.sex.com was a little more successful in selling his domain name.

Care to guess what such a domain is worth in today’s market … and what price he sold it for?

A. $100,000
B. $1 million
C. $10 million
D. More.
E. No takers.

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Category: General | 29 Comments »

Why SEO Copywriting Doesn’t Work for Direct Marketers

November 9th, 2006 by Bob Bly

SEO copywriting doesn’t work for many direct marketers who sell products on the Web.

Here’s why….

The most effective format for selling products directly on the Internet is not the traditional multi-page Web site, which is what SEO copywriting works best for.

Instead, online direct marketing works beset with a long-copy landing page, which is essentially a long sales letter posted as a one-page Web site.

“Most, if not all, one-page Web sites would NOT typically position in the engines,” says top SEO copywriter Heather Lloyd-Martin. “One-page sites are better for pay-per0slick, and not best for optimization.”

Heather suggested to me that we split our long-copy landing pages into multiple pages, each of which could be optimized for search engines.

But I told her that in direct marketing, one long page works much better than a series of linked, separate, shorter pages.

Reason: every time you force visitors to click to a new page, a significant percentage abandon the sales letter.

So let me ask: do YOU worry about SEO when writing Web copy? If so, what kind of Web copy do you write — traditional Web sites, content pages, product pages, landing pages, order forms, microsites?

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Category: General | 23 Comments »

Is Selling Products from the Platform Sleazy?

November 6th, 2006 by Bob Bly

Whenever I attend an Internet marketing conference or marketing boot camp, the speakers increasingly end their presentations with a 10-minute (or longer) sales pitch for their products.

These products are usually a combination of reports, e-books, CDs, DVDs, and coaching, ranging in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

The speakers invariably hand out a one-page sheet with different product offers and pricing.

They then deliver a smoothly delivered sales pitch designed to convince you to buy the higher-priced options.

You are also given a special “discount price” which is good at the event only: if you take the order form home to “think about it” and order later, you will be charged more.

The problem is, they are making these offers during presentations at conferences where the attendees have already paid thousand of dollars to attend.

Many attendees at these events have reactions ranging from annoyance to outrage when they have to sit through these sales pitches.

“I registered at this program to have the guru teach me, and instead, his presentation is a commercial for another program!” one attendee complained to me recently.

So what do you think?

Is it perfectly OK for speakers to sell product from the platform?

Or should their talks be pure content, with selling relegated to a product table at the back of the room?

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Category: General | 51 Comments »

What the Market Will Bear

November 1st, 2006 by Bob Bly

In the old Peanuts comic strip, Lucy had a lemonade stand.

But instead of selling lemonade, she offered psychotherapy.

The sign over the stand read “The Psychiatrist is In — 5 Cents Please.”

“Why do you charge five cents?” Charlie Brown asked her one day.

“It’s what the market will bear,” Lucy replied.

But is “what the market will bear” the right way to price professional, technical, trade, and creative services?

Should we charge as much as we can get, wringing every last dollar out of our customers?

Or should we be more empathetic, balancing our greed and hunger for money with the customer’s financial situation when setting our fees?

Which pricing strategy do you use? And why?

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Category: General | 85 Comments »