Archive for April, 2011

Is E-Mail Old-Fashioned?

April 26th, 2011 by Bob Bly

A lot of social media evangelists tell me that e-mail marketing is old school and rapidly dying.

But a 2010 study by ExactTarget found that 56% of U.S. Internet? users interact with brands only via marketing e-mails, compared to 1.3% who interact only via Twitter and 0.7% by Facebook.

And a 2010 StrongMail study found that business leaders still choose e-mail marketing as the top area of investment growth (65%)? in 2011, above social media (57%) and search engine marketing (41%).

“E-mail is still very much a heavy hitter in the online marketing game,” concludes Ali Brown, who provides the above statistics in her special report “Ezine Publishing Profits.”

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What Are You Reading Right Now?

April 20th, 2011 by Bob Bly

I’ve gotten in the bad habit lately of reading too many books at the same time.

Right now I am reading:

1. Snap Selling by Jill Konrath (highly recommended for anyone who sells anything).

2. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon.

3. The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene.

… plus a few assorted paperback novels.

What are you reading now? Would you recommend it to the rest of us?

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Does Junk Mail Suck?

April 16th, 2011 by Bob Bly

In his column in the April 2011 issue of DM News (p. 58), Scott Donaton proclaims “junk mail sucks.”

He says our industry is populated by “junk mailers and cheesy infomercial pitches.”

He asks the question, “Why does so much of what we’ve defined as direct marketing suck?”

Donaton states that “most pieces of direct mail are poorly designed, off-target messages easily separated into a trash file without a second glance.”

“Some of these mailbox missives move past irrelevance and inch close to the border of sleazy.” He gives as examples mailings that say “last notice” and those that try to look official.

He threatens us direct marketers, saying that they must “face my wrath as I tear [the mailers] into pieces and sprinkle them with curses before sending them down the garbage chute.” (What? Scott Donaton won’t respond to my latest DM package? I am trembling in my boots.)

Donaton is just as critical of direct response TV, saying “most of it is insulting drivel with the production values of a middle school holiday singalong.” He particularly doesn’t like the repetition of the toll-free number in the commercials.

I think Donaton is an idiot. Or at least that his opinions are idiotic.

Your thoughts?

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Marketing Secrets from the Grave

April 5th, 2011 by Bob Bly

Writers and speakers know that you only have a few seconds to get the reader?s or listener?s attention.

If your opening fails to grab her, she?ll quickly stop reading or listening.

One of the most attention-grabbing openings I ever heard was, unfortunately, that of the eulogy for my father, given at his funeral some 15 years ago.

?Everybody wants to be happy,? the speaker began. ?Dave Bly knew the secret of happiness, and in a few minutes, I?m going to tell you what it is.?

Why was this lead so powerful? Three reasons?.

First, it told the listener something she believed to be true: ?everybody wants to be happy.? And because it was true, it resonated with the listener.

Second, it promised a benefit: if you listened, the secret of happiness would be revealed to you within a few minutes.

And third, it was unexpected: not your typical dull eulogy.

So why am I telling you this?

Because the secret revealed that day was not only the secret to happiness ? but, I realized, it was also the secret to creating winning marketing campaigns.

The eulogist didn?t reveal the secret right up front, directly. He got to it through stories. I will do the same here, because it will make the secret clearer and teach it better.

The first story the speaker told was of a day when he and his wife, along with my father and my mother, went to a lake on a Sunday to enjoy the outdoors.

Three of them wanted to have brunch at a nice lakeside restaurant. But when they turned around, dad was out on the dock, talking to a couple of young boys who were fishing, but not having much luck.

Dad loved to fish, and he loved kids. Within a few minutes, he showed them his tricks for adjusting the bob, baiting the hook, and casting out ? and they began catching fish after fish at a rapid rate.

The kids were delighted, smiling and laughing, thanking Dad for making their day. And he was smiling too.

The second story was about a little magic trick Dad would do to entertain when he went out to a dinner with a group of people.

When the wine was finished, he would ask one of the dinner guests to push the cork into the wine bottle, which they did.

Then he would challenge them to remove the cork ? without breaking the bottle. Of course, they could not.

But Dad could ? and did ? to the entertainment and delight of the other diners.

(It?s a trick that would take too much space to describe here. You do it with a linen napkin or handkerchief.)

?The secret of happiness that Dave Bly knew,? the eulogist concluded, ?is to put other people first. Make them happy, and you will be happy.?

The same principle works in marketing and sales: make the customer successful ? and help him achieve his goals ? and you will be successful ? because the customer will buy what you are selling, making you richer in the process.

So that?s the simple secret of happiness ? of marketing ? of sales ? and of success in virtually any aspect of life: put others first and you will reap the rewards.

And that?s the secret I shared with over a hundred mourners at my father?s funeral, when I gave his eulogy, so many years ago.

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