Archive for August, 2017

The worst prospecting technique ever invented

August 29th, 2017 by Bob Bly

This happens to me with some regularity:

A person emails to criticize something I have produced — often a
book, ebook, info product, or one of my landing pages or web
sites.

Sometimes they are nice … but more often, a bit snarky.

And wouldn’t you know it, almost all of these emails end the same
way: “Hire ME to fix it for you!”

This doesn’t work, for 3 reasons.

First, you don’t start off any business relationship by insulting
the potential client or customer.

After all, client you are insulting may have done the work you
are saying sucks — not something he is likely to take kindly too.

Second, the person emailing me has only criticized. But they have
not presented a single shred of evidence that they are qualified
to fix it and can improve results.

Third, they think you are unaware of the problem, and that they
are somehow doing you a service by bringing it to your attention.

What they do not realize is: we already know about the problem.

We just haven’t done anything about it either because (a) we
haven’t had time, and it is a relatively low priority or (b) we
don’t agree with them that it is in fact a problem.

And not because we are stupid, lazy, unskilled, or unaware.

For instance, former subscriber (I unsubscribed her) PZ wrote:

“Last week I purchased Writing Brochures for Fun and Profit
ebook. Please issue a credit to my Paypal account.

“I’m more than disappointed, this just feels like a rip-off.

“While some of the ideas are still good, referencing mainframes,
VCRs, and tape reels is not only ridiculous it’s going to send
younger readers to Google.

“Below is a copy of my receipt, and screenshots of a couple of
the most absurd pages.

And of course, PZ moves in for the close:

“If you are interested in having this and other materials
updated, please do get in touch. I do a lot of editing and
updating to repurpose old material.”

I immediately wrote back:

“Why would I want to hire you? I can’t think of a single reason.

“We are going to refund your money, unsubscribe you, and block
you from our shopping cart and our email inbox.

“PZ, you are starving to death with a loaf of bread under each
arm.

“Because what’s important is what you said in your email: the
ideas are still good.

“Do you reject books like Ogilvy on Advertising, Scientific
Advertising, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and the
Bible because they were written years ago?

“If so, how sad for you. For you are the one missing out. That I
didn’t update mainframe to distributed computing, the cloud, or
whatever has absolutely nothing to do with the value of the
course you bought.”

Two important takeaways if you are a buyer of business and
marketing advice, a seller of services, or both:

1–Technology is transient. But human psychology has not changed
in 10 centuries.

2–Criticizing someone’s business and then offering to come in and
help them make it better is absolutely the worst prospecting
strategy on the planet.

To me, the best I can say about PZ is that she, to turn a phrase
from Coolio, is living in the “Idiot’s Paradise.”

KM, another writer/ignoramus trolling for business, wrote a
letter to my friend, RA.

He said RA’s direct mail package was terrible, and for a fee, he
would rewrite it and make the copy much better.

RA and I had a good laugh over this, because (a) the package was
selling the product like hot cakes and (b) it was written by one
of the top copywriters in the country — RA himself.

And that’s my third takeaway:

3–Talking about stuff without knowing the facts is a good
opportunity to make yourself look like a total idiot.

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Category: General, Success | 7 Comments »

3 idiot things some marketers mistakenly believe are true

August 25th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Lots of people pontificate about marketing. Always have.

Especially among young marketers, there is a propensity to latch
onto the latest bright shiny objects (BSOs).

The only problem: many of these marketers and BSO fans don’t know
what the heck they are talking about.

My first case in point: a young millennial marketer chastised me
for my old-fashioned website.

Even though it has in fact been optimized for mobile, it was
originally designed for desktop.

And my young friend told me, as so many have: “Every consumer uses
their mobile to shop online today … no one uses a desktop.”

Makes sense. The only problem: the facts say otherwise.

According to a recently released report from Akamai, less than
half of consumers browse the web with their phone.

But only 1 in 5 — a mere 20% — completes purchase transactions
on a mobile!

For me in particular, 80% of the subscribers to this online
newsletter read it on a desktop, and only 20% on a mobile.

So I said to my young friend who told me desktop is dead:
“Wrongo, Mobile Breath!”

(Being so young, I am sure he didn’t get the Johnny Carson
connection.)

Second case in point: the much ado about social media nothing.

A study by Riple found that 55% of small business owners listed
Facebook posts as their most important marketing tool.

They are apparently unaware of the MediaPost research showing
that email is ***6 times more likely*** to generate a direct
response than a social post.

Third case in point: The other day, a friend asked me if I had a
certain app.

I told him that I have NO apps.

“How can someone in today’s mobile age, especially a marketing
guy, not use apps?” he asked.

My question: If apps are so useful, important, and vital — why
does Localytics report 1 in 4 mobile apps is abandoned after
being used just one time?

The lesson for marketers: don’t listen to all the hooey and BS
out there.

Use what works. Test it for yourself.

Then do more of what works — and less of what doesn’t.

Not exactly rocket science, is it?

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7 ways to double your writing output and income

August 22nd, 2017 by Bob Bly

As a practitioner of a Protestant work ethic and semi-workaholic
writer, I have long had a fascination with prolific authors.

Isaac Asimov, my writing role model, wrote and talked about his
prolificity frequently, and wrote more than 500 books.

Asimov worked 7 days a week. He thought the U.S. Postal Service
were slackers because they would not deliver mail on Sunday.

When Barbara Walters asked Asimov what he would do if he found
out he had only 6 months to live, he replied without missing a
beat: “I’d type faster.” My kind of guy!

But not many people know that Asimov’s friend and fellow SF
author, Robert Silverberg — who never talked about his output —
was even more prolific.

According to my research, Bob Silverberg has written under his
own name and pseudonyms 966 books.

RL Stine is also impressive at 422 books — and for a time was
writing a new Goosebumps every 2 weeks.

Barbara Cartland wrote over 700 romance novels, with total sales
of more than a billion copies.

The Guinness Book of World Records says the most published works
(books, articles, stories) by one author is 1,084.

That honor belongs to L. Ron Hubbard. His first work was
published in February 1934 and the last in March 2006.

With 19 New York Times best-sellers and more than 350 million
copies of his works in circulation, L. Ron Hubbard is one of the
most widely read authors in literary history. He also holds
Guinness world records as the most translated author and for the
most audiobooks.

English writer Charles Hamilton wrote 100 million words during
his lifetime, published mainly as stories in magazines — the
equivalent of 1,200 average-length novels.

For many writers, writing faster and increasing their output of
saleable material is one of the few ways they can make more
money.

All else being equal, if you write twice as fast, you produce
twice as much.

And if you sell twice as much writing, you double your writing
income, right?

That means if you are making $50,000 as a freelance writer now,
boosting your productivity and doubling your output can take you
to $100,000 a year.

And I’m sure you could use an extra 50K in annual income, right?
I know I could!

So here are a few tips to help you increase your writing
productivity and production:

1–Make being prolific a goal in and of itself. Prolific writers
want to be prolific and take pride in doing so.

2–You must practice and get good so when you double your speed
and output, you do not sacrifice quality. Not one iota.

3–Work longer hours. The great Claude Hopkins, who was the
highest-paid copywriter of his era, said he made more money than
other copywriters because he worked more hours.

4–Love your work. The most prolific writers are so productive
because they absolutely love writing. Even the physical process
of keyboarding and watching the words appear on the screen, as I
am doing right now.

5–Always have multiple writing projects in the hopper. That way,
when you start to run out of steam on project A you simply put it
aside and pick up on project B. So you never feel blocked or
burned out.

6–Use the right keyboard and writing instrument. As a high-speed
touch typist, I am only productive on a desktop PC with a
typewriter-style keyboard with raised keys. I am slow as molasses
on a laptop with flat keys.

7–Devote your life to writing. The two activities I spend the
most time on in my waking hours are writing and reading. Those
are the only things I love to do. Yes, there are many things I
like to do. But love to do? That’s it.

Having just now handed in my 94th book to my publisher, I am a
slacker and a piker compared to the authors I have listed above.

But to be fair, writing books was their full-time job. Mine are
writing copy for my clients and running a small internet
marketing business. Writing books is my avocation.

And given that it is a sideline, on which I spend only an hour or
two a day if that, I am okay with not being in their league.

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Category: General, Writing | 4 Comments »

Wanna get rich online? Do what Amazon does.

August 18th, 2017 by Bob Bly

My colleague Craig Murphy helps companies improve e-commerce
revenues using what he calls “online sales psychology.”

Essentially, he applies principles of psychology to improve
conversions

How does it work?

As an example, take a look at Amazon.

The core elements on their website are:

>> Search bar across the top of the page.
>> Login area.
>> Main featured image that rotates through a select few
products.

What’s happening here is Amazon is conditioning their users to
an experience.

They have spent millions and millions of dollars researching the
psychology behind their website — what users see first, what
they expect to see first, where they click, and why they click
there.

By doing this Amazon tailors their website around expectations
and also sets expectations for the rest of the web.

That being the case, say you are looking to create an ecommerce
website.

You put your search bar down the very bottom out of site.

You don’t include a login.

And instead of showcasing featured products, you highlight the
about your company section.

Would this work as well?

Does this fit in with what your prospects are expecting?

Does it get the consumer from your homepage to a product page to
checkout as quickly and smoothly as possible?

Amazon has already done the hard work for us of determining what
works on e-commerce sites … so why not learn from their expensive
experience.

Avoid reinventing the wheel and copycat a winning formula
instead!

For instance, on product search result pages, the search filter
options are typically down the left hand side as is the case with
Amazon.

Why? Because the western world reads left to right … and the web
has conditioned people as a standard to expect search options on
the left hand side.

As an experiment, on a development server, try adding your search
options to the right hand of your website.

You’ll see how odd it looks. Moving it to the left should give a
better visual appearance, user interface, and improve sales.

Always remember to keep your important page elements — including
images, headlines, and most importantly call to action (CTA)
buttons “above the fold.”

If you don’t, and users have to scroll down to find the CTA
button, conversion rates will plummet.

You can use www.inspectlet.com screen recording software to track
visitor activity on your website and follow the actions that they
take from start to finish.

Analytics may tell you there’s an issue. But screen recording
software such as inspectlet will show you exactly what the
problem is.

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Category: Online Marketing | 4 Comments »

Oh, those larcenous direct marketers of yesteryear!

August 15th, 2017 by Bob Bly

A lot of digital marketing today is direct response — only it’s
all done with electrons instead of ink on paper.

As a result of the rise of digital marketing, direct response has
now become mainstream.

But back when I got into direct response in the early 80s, DR was
considered the ugly stepchild of more respectable mainstream
Madison Avenue brand advertising.

One reason was that we direct people had the unmitigated gall to
want advertising to be profitable and actually sell something
with our copy. And not just win awards.

Another reason: while Madison Avenue worshipped beautiful graphic
design, direct marketers consistently found, sometimes to our
surprise, that “ugly” direct mail usually worked much better than
slick and colorful packages.

The third reason direct marketing was looked down on is that some
of the old-time practitioners had a … well, a penchant for
promoting questionable offers.

Promotions that bordered on sleazy. Offers that came close to
being deceptive — and a few that stepped over that line. Products
that were rip-offs.

One of the most famous was the mail order ad that offered “a
copper-engraved portrait of America’s 16th president” for only
$10.

When you sent in your ten-spot, the marketer fulfilled the order
by mailing you a penny.

Another mail order ad of this ilk had the headline, “Gets Rid of
Potato Bugs and Other Garden Insects Guaranteed.” The product
cost $5 in 1969.

When you ordered, you received two blocks of wood with
handwritten instructions on how to place the potato bug or other
insect on one piece of wood — and squash it with the other.

Says BC, a friend and fellow mail order old-timer who reminded me
of this ad the other day, “I laughed so hard, I was in tears.”

In addition, BC tells this classic mail order story: “A neighbor
of ours bought a set of lawn furniture for $12. Included 4
chairs, a table and umbrella.”

The neighbor received the actual scaled size furniture that was
in the print ad photo — good for a doll house or a little girl’s
toy, but not so good for a patio.

BC also reminded me of the mail order ad that sold a vibrating
lure designed to help you catch fish like crazy.

BC bought it when he was a kid and says: “I never caught a fish
on it. And I guess they have a contest every year and none of the
participants have ever caught a fish with it!”

Then there was the ad that said: “Turn your closet into a coat
room with sturdy metal coat hooks.” When you ordered, the
marketer sent you a dozen or so nails.

Another classic was “Portable Garage” — a plastic tarp you
placed over your car to keep the snow and rain off. Actually
quite handy for people who can’t put their car inside because
their real garage is filled with mowers, tools, boxes, and
assorted junk.

The classic of all time is the pet sea monkeys — a vial of brine
shrimp eggs that hatched when placed in warm salty water.

The ad proclaimed: “Instant Pets — a Bowlful of Fun!”

As a kid, I actually did have a lot of fun with the sea monkeys.
And I didn’t feel ripped off at all.

In fact, the brine shrimp are great live food for tropical fish,
and so my having fish tanks made the sea monkeys not only fun but
practical as well.

Although on South Park, Cartman wasn’t quite as thrilled as I was
with his sea monkeys:

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Advice for aspiring novelists from a very successful one

August 4th, 2017 by Bob Bly

My friend Hunter Shea is a successful and prolific horror writer.

He is the author of more than 17 published novels including “The
Jersey Devil” (Pinnacle), “They Rise” (Severed Press), and “We
Are Always Watching” (Sinister Grin).

Anyway, Hunter recently told me an interesting story with a
lesson for writers that I want to share with you.

Take it away Mr. Shea….

“I attended only one writer’s conference in my life. It was close
to home in New York City, held in a college during the semester
break.

“Following my printed schedule, I went to a classroom to listen
to a famous thriller author talk about his path to publication.

“It was a packed room, so I had to take a seat in the back. I
noticed an old man sitting next to me.

“He leaned over and whispered, ‘You spend a lot of money on this,
kid?’

“‘You could say that.’ I’d spent nine hundred dollars I didn’t
have at the time.

“‘You see all these people?’ he said, pointing at the back of
everyone’s heads.

“‘Yeah.

“‘None of them will ever be writers. Come back here in ten years
and you’ll see the same faces.’

“‘Do me a favor. Hold onto your money. You want to be a writer?’

“I nodded, hoping the guy would quiet down once the author
started talking.

“‘Then go home and do two things. Read a ton. Then write a ton.
That’s all there is to it.’

“I quietly thanked him for the advice, enjoyed the talk by the
thriller author, and attended as many sessions that morning as I
could.

“Imagine my surprise when I saw that old man during the lunch
event stride up to the podium when he was introduced as the key
speaker for the day.

“That man was Elmore Leonard.

“Boom! I took his advice, and never again spent a dime on a
writing conference.

“Elmore Leonard saved me enough money over the years to buy a
brand new car. I wish he were alive so I could thank him
properly.

“If you’re going to spend your money, spend it on books to read.”

Thanks, Hunter!

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Category: General, Success, Writing | 5 Comments »

Prospecting with scissors

August 1st, 2017 by Bob Bly

Though I don’t think I invented it, I’m one of an extremely small
group of people who use this little-known marketing channel to
stay in touch with clients and prospects.

I call it “strategic clipping.”

How it works is simple….

Whenever you come across an article in a magazine or newspaper
that is relevant to one of your client’s businesses — or even his
or her hobbies or personal life — tear or clip it out of the
publication … and mail it to the client.

It sounds trivial. Almost ridiculous for me to call it a
marketing channel.

But in fact, it’s one of the most effective relationship-building
tools ever devised.

First, here’s how I do it.

I don’t deliberately research material to clip and send to
clients.

But in the course of your reading, you will come across many such
items weekly.

A lot of people look at a relevant article and think, “Bill would
be interested in this; maybe I should send it to him.”

But because they are busy, they don’t.

I do. It’s easy, because my strategic clipping method is fast and
efficient … and takes almost none of my time.

When I see an article for Bill, I cut it out of the publication with
scissors.

I handwrite in pen a quick note at the top: “Bill — FYI — Bob
Bly.” That’s it. Scribbled in seconds.

I then hand it to my assistant and say, “Please mail this to Bill
Jones at Acme Solar Energy.”

And that’s it. My assistant does the work.

No need for me to take time out of my hectic day to find Bill’s
postal address, hunt for a stamp and envelope, put the article in
the envelope, seal the envelope, affix the stamp, and drive to
the post office to drop it in the mail.

If I didn’t have an assistant and had to do it myself, I probably
would not use strategic clipping. But fortunately, I do. (Every
solopreneur should.)

Why is strategic clipping so effective? For 3 reasons:

First, the content is extremely targeted and relevant to the
recipient.

Second, it has a personal touch — especially the handwritten note
— and it shows people you are thinking of them.

Third, in our digital age where people are bombarded by email,
getting a piece of paper in the mail stands out.

The only drawback to strategic clipping is: it’s hit and miss. If
I don’t come across an article of interest to Bill, he doesn’t
get a clip.

My solution to that flaw in the clipping system is to augment it
by publishing a regular e-newsletter.

An e-newsletter is not as customized and personal as a strategic
clip.

But the regularity of sending a monthly or weekly newsletter
helps build top of mind awareness.

It also ensures that your prospects, clients, and customers hear
from you on a continual basis.

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Category: General | 2 Comments »