Archive for February, 2018

How to submit copy

February 13th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber BM writes:

“Bob, can I ask a dumb logistical question? How exactly do you
submit your copy? And in what form? In a word Doc? PDF?

“Do you format the copy exactly as you envision it, down to the
headline font and size? And what about images and charts and
things like Johnson boxes?

“Do you dictate how things look graphically or just submit the
raw text for everything? Just curious about that.”

So let me briefly provide the straightforward answers to these
questions, which are anything BUT dumb:

1–I submit copy to clients as a word file, single-spaced, sent
via an email attachment.

2–The body copy is in 12-point Times Roman. Headlines are
14-point Arial bold. Subheads are 12-point Arial.

3–If there are graphics, I cut and paste the image into my Word
document directly from the source material (e.g., Powerpoints,
white paper PDF documents, websites) whenever possible, with the
source referenced in a footnote.

4–If the source material is copyrighted content owned by my
client, I assume they can use the visuals as is.

5–If the source is copyrighted material belonging to someone
else, I still cut and paste it with a footnote into my document,
but alert the client that they must either obtain written
permission to use it or redraw it so as not to violate copyright.
Or, I paraphrase to avoid copyright violation.

6–I often include in the Word document for my copy some
“copywriter’s roughs” — crude layouts, drawn in Microsoft Word.
Note: I have collected my layout templates in a kit you can buy;
see my PS below for details.

7–I clearly indicate what is a headline, subhead, or body copy;
provide images for guidance; and either give layout instructions
in text [in square brackets] — or using my copywriter’s roughs
(see #6 above).

But, I do NOT “dictate how things look graphically,” format the
copy in final form, or do a finished graphic design or layout of
any kind.

Instead, I provide sufficient “art direction” (layout
suggestions) so that the graphic designer can produce a finished
layout that will work in print or online.

I will also, at no charge, review the layout, often several
times, as it is being developed by the graphic designer and made
final by them and the client.

But I do not try to tell the graphic designers how to do a job
for which they are better skilled and suited than I am.

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Category: Writing | 1 Comment »

Is content marketing overhyped?

February 9th, 2018 by Bob Bly

A week or so ago, I received via email a link to an article
titled — “How to Stop Acting Like a Marketer and Start Thinking
Like a Publisher.”

And the misguided ideal it promotes — that we are all publishers,
not marketers — is a sure road to ruin.

The problem with this attitude … that we are educators, not
sellers … is it fools too many unsuspecting content marketers
into believing we are in the business of creating and giving away
free information.

But we are not. No, the business we are really in is that of
marketing and selling our products for a profit — ideally,
products that can help our customers solve their problems and
give them better value than anything else out there.

To that end, content marketing (publishing) — is merely one of
multiple channels we use to promote our business.

But it is not THE business we are in. It is simply a way of
generating leads and sales. The thinking implied in this article
title is fallacious and potentially wasteful and costly.

For instance, if you manufacture valves, pumps, and mixers, you
are in the chemical process equipment business.

You may publish a variety of materials about these products and
their features, design, and application — everything from data
sheets and videos, to technical articles and white papers, to
case studies and installation manuals.

So yes, you are publishing useful content.

But, you are not IN the publishing business. You publish these
materials only to support the real business you are in: the
process equipment business.

If you believe otherwise … that your business is publishing or
brand journalism … you are fooling yourself.

Worse, you may be turning out a ton of publications that, while
interesting and educational, are not supporting the marketing and
selling of your products — and are therefore largely a waste of
time, money, and effort. In other words, content pollution.

Action step: create a marketing plan, and integrate content in
support of the sales funnels, calls to action, marketing
objectives, and the information needs of buyers — overcoming
objections while convincing them that your technology is the best
solution for their problems.

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Category: Direct Marketing, General, Online Marketing | 3 Comments »

Why bragging does not pay

February 6th, 2018 by Bob Bly

I have two simple and inviolate rules I live my life by: (a)
don’t give unsolicited advice and (b) don’t brag.

TW recently asked me, quite reasonably, “What is wrong with
bragging?”

Well, as my mother once told me, there are 3 types of people you
brag to, and therefore 3 reasons why there is no percentage in it
for you.

>> First, some of the people you brag to are much more
accomplished, successful, or fortunate than even you are.

So what’s the point of bragging to them?

When they hear you boasting, they won’t be impressed.

If anything, they’ll look down on you from their loftier vantage
point.

>> Second, some of the people you brag to are your peers.

So one of 3 things happens when you brag to an equal.

Either (a) they truly see you as an equal, in which case you are
on an even playing field, and therefore they are not impressed.
All they come away with is what you like to brag.

Or (b) they get envious and fearful that they will seem inferior
to you, and so immediately inform you that they have something
equal to or better than what you just said — and the result will
be a pissing contest that nobody wins or enjoys.

Or (c) they feel that they are in fact ahead of you, not behind
you, and are eager to let you know this right away — and so the
pissing contest commences, and you probably lose.

>> Third, some people you brag to are not at your level in terms
of whatever you are bragging about — whether it’s money, career,
possessions, achievements, fitness, looks, or whatever.

And in that case, your bragging, if you are honest with yourself,
has really only two purposes or effects:

It makes you feel better about yourself.

And it makes other people feel inferior or badly about
themselves.

What’s the point of that?

It is either mean and hurtful at worst, or irritating and
annoying at best — and either way causes the other person to like
you less.

So how do you keep your chest-thumping — and the damage it can
do to yourself and others — to a minimum?

>> Step one: do not voice anything that could be considered
boastful or a brag unless the other person asked you about it
first.

For instance, if when we meet, the first thing you say to me is,
“My son just got a free ride on an athletic scholarship for 4
years of college,” I am thinking you are boastful and trying to
make me feel bad that my kids did not.

>> Step two: even if you are asked, frame the boast in a way that
makes you seem modest.

You can do this most easily by not taking credit for it … not
presenting it in its full glory, but rather limiting your brag …
or voicing a small negative along with the positive — for
instance:

“Well, my son was so lucky. We just found out he got an athletic
scholarship to college. It’s amazing, because he barely made the
team in high school, but he worked so hard at it, and I guess got
good enough. Also amazing because you know he didn’t get it from
me — I am a total klutz!”

Notice that the speaker said it was lucky … that it was achieved
by the skin of the kid’s teeth … that it was done through sweat
and not natural talent … and the speaker makes a self-effacing
remark at the end about not being an athlete himself.

TW also said to me in defense of his boasting, “Bob, if you
have done it, then it ain’t bragging.”

Well … yes it is. If you think on it, you already know why.

If not, here’s the answer: because even if you have done it, all
three scenarios above still apply.

And all of them are losing propositions. Right?

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Category: General | 4 Comments »

Writing: the #1 barrier to digital marketing

February 2nd, 2018 by Bob Bly

Digital marketing has an insatiable thirst for good content and
copy to fuel it and produce results.

And therein lies a problem: companies that lack writing resources
neglect certain digital channels — because they do not have the
time, talent, nor temperament to write the copy these marketing
tactics require.

In my experience, the marketing-related writing tasks that are
most problematic are blogs, e-newsletters, email marketing, and
lead magnets.

>> Blog posts … writing one or two 500 to 1,000-word blog posts
daily is difficult, especially in a corporate environment where
everything published has to go through a review committee.

>> E-newsletters … experienced online marketers know the
importance of having an e-newsletter and building its subscriber
list. But the #1 complaint of marketers I advise in this area is,
“We don’t have the time to write an e-zine or the budget to hire
someone to do so!”

>> Email marketing … not a problem if you send one email blast to
your list a month, but it suddenly becomes a huge burden if you
want to send 2 to 3 email messages a week.

>> Lead magnets … the marketer creates a squeeze or sales page.
They then realize they want to offer a free bonus report. But
they don’t have one. The deadline is around the corner and the
budget has been spent. So they skip the report — and response
suffers because of it.

So how do you get around your resource limitations and get these
things written with sufficient quality and quick turnaround without
breaking your marketing budget?

Here are a few suggestions:

1–Recruit in-house wordsmiths.

At most organizations there are usually some people who, while
not professional writers, are decent “wordsmiths” — as we used to
call them at Westinghouse back in the day.

2–Repurpose and recycle your content.

Don’t reinvent the wheel with every new piece of copy and content
you write.

A blog post can be reworked into an article for your online
newsletter. A series of articles from your e-newsletter can be
compiled and edited into a special report or white paper.

3–Use other people’s content.

You probably already get a ton of material on your topic —
e-newsletters, webinars, trade magazines, and other sources.

As you read them, you can extract and reprint this information,
rephrased in your own words, in your e-newsletter and other
digital marketing. Just be sure to credit the source.

4–Set a schedule to publish regularly.

If you decide to blog or write e-newsletter issues sporadically,
then you have no commitment to get the material done by a
specific date — and therefore the writing is in danger of being
continually put off as more pressing tasks come up.

On the other hand, when people sign up for and you promise them a
weekly e-newsletter, you have an obligation to deliver — and you
somehow get it done.

5–Carry a smart phone, digital recorder, or pen and note pad.

Copy and content ideas will pop into your head when you least
expect them to.

Write them down. Capture ideas immediately. If you don’t, by the
time you get to your desk, you will have forgotten that great
idea or content tidbit you wanted to use in your next blog post
or podcast.

By the way, the problem companies have with getting blog posts,
online newsletters, email blasts, and lead magnets written seems
not to apply to bigger writing projects — including websites,
landing pages, and video sales letters.

That’s because these can usually be planned, and that plan
includes a production schedule the team agrees on and finds
reasonable — or at least possible.

Also because these projects are perhaps bigger, more critical,
and less frequent than the blogging or online newsletters,
marketers are comfortable devoting more time and effort to their
creation.

So they can afford and are willing to pay qualified professionals
higher fees to write these bigger pieces.

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Category: General, Online Marketing, Writing, Writing and the Internet | 5 Comments »