Archive for the 'General' Category

Copywriters: escape the “commodity trap”

January 19th, 2018 by Bob Bly

Subscriber DC writes, “What’s the biggest threat facing freelance
copywriters?”

Then he answers his own question: “It’s commoditization.

“To see where copywriting is going, look no further than
translation.

“This is now almost a commodity, in which freelance rates are in
a ‘race to the bottom.’

“In copywriting, barriers to entry are so low … and anyone
anywhere can bid for work.”

Then DC asks, “So how can copywriters avoid becoming a commodity
— what strategy works?”

To answer, here are 5 ways copywriters can escape the commodity
trap:

1–The “double pipeline” strategy.

You calculate the amount of marketing needed to generate enough
leads to keep busy.

Then, do twice that much marketing!

Result: a lead pipeline filled to overflowing — making you an
in-demand copywriter with more potential clients than you could
ever hope to possibly handle.

And when you have 2X more copywriting jobs offered to you than
you can take, then commoditization doesn’t matter.

Demand for your time outweighs the supply, and you eliminate
cutthroat competition or the need to compete on price.

2–The “niche” strategy.

Specialize either in a particular industry, such as financial,
health care, or manufacturing.

Or in a medium or copywriting task such as white papers, email
marketing campaigns, or long-copy sales letters.

The more narrow your specialty — e.g., direct mail selling
insurance — the more you can charge and the fewer your
competitors.

3–The “multiple streams of income” strategy.

If your gross revenue goal is $150,000 a year and all you do is
write copy for clients, you must get and complete $150,000 worth
of copywriting projects.

On the other hand, say you want to make $150,000 a year, and you
can make $25,000 in speaking fees, $25,000 in book royalties, and
$50,000 creating and selling your own info products online.

That adds up to $100,000. So the pressure is off, because now you
only have to make $50,000 a year in copywriting fees to hit your
$150,000 total revenue goal.

4–The “guru” strategy.

Write articles, publish special reports, author books, present
seminars, give talks at conferences, have a content-rich website,
build a Facebook group, tweet, and do other things to help build
your reputation as a guru.

5–The “superstar” strategy.

Be in the top 1% of copywriters in terms of results generated by
your copy.

This is an extremely difficult strategy as most of us have mixed
track records and almost no one writes a winner every time.

The preeminent copywriter in the superstar category today is
Clayton Makepeace.

All 5 strategies are essentially variations on one theme: Be
different in a way that makes you better or more desirable.

But it’s not enough to build or become a better mousetrap.

To get the world to beat a path to your door, you’ve got to
effectively communicate that difference to your potential
clients.

In Working Moms e-newsletter (9/7/17), Dan Kennedy writes:

“Project a powerful, persuasive, intriguing, compelling,
fascinating message. Is your message ordinary or similar to
others in your market? Is it plain vanilla? Easily ignored? Just
about the facts? If so, it needs to be doctored so that it
stands out. This is especially true if your product or service is
widely available.

“Review your marketing. Does it differentiate your business and
perhaps establish you as the expert people should work with,
regardless the cost? If not, it should.”

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Category: Direct Marketing, General, Writing | 1 Comment »

How far would you go to close a $29 sale?

January 9th, 2018 by Bob Bly

A few weeks ago, subscriber MP told me she read someone else’s
book on information marketing, followed the advice, and it did
not work.

And then she asked me, “How is your material any different?”

It sounds like a reasonable question, but I refused to answer it,
telling her “I have no interest in convincing you to buy my
material.”

You might think me rude in my reply, but I said it politely.

And there are three reasons why when anyone asks, “Why should I
buy your course instead of Mr. X’s?” I do not take the bait.

First, in most instances, I have not seen the competing product.

So how can I say how mine is different than that one
specifically?

(In MP’s case, I had not read nor even heard of the book she had
read.)

My usual response is to tell the person to read the sales page
describing my course.

That gives you everything you need to make an intelligent
decision about buying the product.

And then, you either buy it or you don’t.

I’m OK either way.

Also, I am not that sympathetic with people who are worried that,
after buying my info product, it won’t meet their needs.

That’s because I offer an unconditional 90-day guarantee of
satisfaction.

So there’s no risk to the buyer of any kind.

If they listen, watch, or read my info product and return it,
they get a prompt refund.

And they keep all the knowledge they gained — for free!

In essence, I am the one who has in a sense been “cheated.”

Because I have moved all the risk off the buyer’s shoulders and
onto mine.

But I don’t mind. That is the cost of doing business.

And if they can’t even pull the trigger on a $29 ebook with a
money-back guarantee and therefore ZERO purchase risk, well …

Then they probably don’t have the cojones do whatever business
the ebook teaches — so they are wise to walk away.

>> Second, there is the question of ROTI — return on time
invested.

Let’s say — although I charge by the project for my services, not
by the hour — it works out that I earn at minimum $250 an hour
working for my clients.

That’s about $4.17 a minute.

So if it takes me 10 minutes on the phone with MP to answer her
questions, I have spent almost $42 of my time to sell a $29
product — a net loss for me of nearly $13.

>> Third, I have no desire to be a “dancing monkey.”

A dancing monkey is a seller who will jump through hoops — and
say and do anything — to get the order.

There are a couple of reasons not to be a dancing monkey.

The first is: it’s a bit degrading and humiliation — comes close
to begging at times.

Second, it risks alienating many potential clients or customers.

That’s because many prospects are turned off by vendors who seem
desperate and in need of the money.

People would rather buy from someone who is busy and successful,
not someone who is needy and hungry.

Also, when it comes to info products, mine are reasonably priced
— many have said my prices are extremely low compared with others
in my markets.

So I have done my bit to help people improve their lives and
businesses at a fair price that doesn’t gouge them or break their
bank account.

And combined with the unconditional 3-month free trial I offer on
every info product I sell, my conscience is clear … and I sleep
well at night.

MP later wrote back saying, “I will buy it.”

Why?

I told her my bio and testimonials, which are on the sales page
of every info product I sell (see for example
www.theinternetmarketingretirementplan.com), should convince her
or not.

“I guess years and clients have proven you are right,” she
replied. And clicked the order button.

Now, there’s a copywriting lesson here, and it is this:

On your web sales pages, put the credibility right up front —
starting on the first screen.

Reason:

If your credentials are way into the copy in a long sales page,
the reader may never scroll that far down and see them — and
therefore, not buy and click away before ever discovering them.

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Category: General | 1 Comment »

Upsell yourself to bigger profits

January 2nd, 2018 by Bob Bly

When I started my freelance copywriting career in the early
1980s, the most lucrative assignment was writing direct mail
packages to sell magazine subscriptions.

And perhaps the toughest assignment was the “free to paid
conversion” campaign.

This was a direct mail package designed to get people who
formerly received a magazine for free to now pay to subscribe.

Free-to-paid conversion is one kind of upsell, with an upsell
being any marketing that gets a customer who buys a less
expensive (or in this case free) product to buy a more expensive
product.

Now, thanks to the internet, upselling in general is much easier,
faster, and more profitable.

A case in point: Classmates Guestbook.

This is a great website that connects people who went to the same
high school and especially those who were in the same class.

You can look at some of the content and post your profile there
for free to update your classmates on what you are up to.

Then, when a classmate looks at your profile, Classmates
Guestbook notifies you by email.

But, the person’s name and image are blurry.

So you can’t actually see who has checked up on you … unless you
upgrade your Classmates Guestbook status from free to a paid
monthly subscription.

It’s a brilliant upsell, though there have been many smart upsell
programs both pre and post internet.

The classic at Mickey D’s, which has become iconic, is: “Do you
want fries with that?”

In MaryEllen Tribby’s online newsletter, she says this upsell
increased sales of fries at McDonald’s 15%.

And in fact, the fast food chain sells 9 million pounds of fries
worldwide each and every day of the year.[1]

An even more effective upsell was from the copywriter or brand
manager who first wrote these words on a shampoo bottle:

“Rinse. Lather. Repeat.”

This simple consumption doubled the consumer’s usage and purchase
of shampoo for a 100% upsell.

Arm and Hammer baking soda had a similar classic upsell with
their ad campaign extolling consumers to buy a second box of
baking soda to put in your refrigerator for absorbing odors.

For ecommerce businesses, the proven upsell strategy is to serve
the buyer a page with an upsell offer right before or at the
point of checkout.

We recently promoted a $19 ebook; when buyers went to the
shopping cart, they were upsold to an audio course.

The course is regularly $47, but the upsell offers it for only
$28, and about one out of three ebook purchasers takes the upsell
offer.

Opposite of the upsell is another offer that can work: the
downsell.

For instance, decades ago, a company sold a business opportunity
where for a high price you could buy a “business in a box”
selling gold chains, necklaces, and baubles at flea markets, swap
meets, and such.

When someone responded to their ads in business opportunity
magazines but did not buy after getting a series of mailers, the
next mailer offered a scaled-down “start-up” kit for a fraction
of the price of the full business kit.

In restaurants, the downsell to a full racks of ribs is the half
rack.

But that usually bothers me, because although I don’t want to eat
too much, I also don’t like feeling I am getting ripped off —
which is how I feel when a rack is $17.99 and a half-rack is
$14.99.

Once, when we were eating out and the server pointed out this
pricing to me on the menu, I replied, “If the rack is $17.99 and
the half-rack is $14.99, can I get the other half for the
remaining $3?”

The only people less amused than our server were my wife and
kids.

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Category: General, Online Marketing | 2 Comments »

5 books I really enjoyed reading this year

December 27th, 2017 by Bob Bly

I am a reading addict and hooked on books — so I read a LOT of
books in a year.

Here are 5 books I really enjoyed this year and you may too in
2018:

#1–“Battlefield Earth” by L. Ron Hubbard (Galaxy Press) — a
sprawling space opera about humanity’s courageous rebellion
against technologically and physically superior aliens who
enslave Earth. (Disclosure: Galaxy Press is a client of mine, but
did not pay me to write this.)

#2–“Lucky Us” by Amy Bloom (Random House) — two stepsisters make
their way in the world living unconventional lives.

#3–“Horoscopes for the Dead” by Billy Collins (Random House) — if
you enjoy Billy Collins’ poetry as I do, then you will probably enjoy
this quite, contemplative, slim volume as did, too.

#4–“The World of Raymond Chandler” edited by Barry Day (Knopf)
— excerpts from Chandler’s writing, interviews, and correspondence
edited into an autobiography mostly in his own words with some
added commentary by editor Barry Day.

#5–“Charles Bukowski on Writing” edited by Abel Debritto
(HarperCollins) — the novelist and poet gives his thoughts on
writing.

Happy New Year

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Category: General | 7 Comments »

Get others to sell your products — without commission

December 26th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Subscriber MI writes:

“‘Influencer marketing’ drives me crazy. Many outdoor
businesses are joining the trend to hire athletes to promote
their products.

“At an industry conference, I asked one ad agency rep what the
return on investment was on influencer marketing. His response
was void of examples. He told me it boils down to brand
awareness.

“I think there are better ways to sell because influencers fail
to mention ‘what’s in it’ for consumers who use the products they
are sponsoring.

“I’m an outdoor recreation junkie, so I’ve been using the gear
and clothing these athletes are promoting for decades. But
instead of telling me how to use rock climbing gear more
efficiently so I can climb faster, influencers tell me stories
about their climbing adventures.

“I could be missing something, but I don’t understand the draw to
use this marketing strategy.”

Let me see whether I can give a quick answer here….

To begin with, an “influencer” is a person who can influence the
actions, behaviors, and opinions of others.

Influencers exert their sway online primarily through blogs,
online newsletters, content, and social media including Facebook
posts, Pinterest boards, YouTube videos, Tweets, Instant posts,
Snapchat stories, and more.

Influencer marketing works because, as shown in research from
Nielsen, more than 8 out of 10 people use recommendations they
got online from an influencer to make a purchase decision.

The leverage online is this: If you just tell a neighbor you like
a particular bar in your city, you’ve influenced that one
neighbor.

Back in the day, we called this simply “word of mouth
advertising” … or in business and professional services “referral
marketing.”

But a bar blogger who recommends a pub can influence hundreds of
his readers to give that watering hole a try — so influencer
marketing is often more effective online than offline.

For instance, Ace Hair enlisted actor Josh Peck, who has over 4
million Instagram followers, as an influencer.

The most effective offline influencer marketing is through people
who reach a wide audience in traditional print media — magazines
and newspapers — as reviewers, critics, columnists, or other
trusted resources who recommend products and services.

Why does influencer marketing work? According to the 2016
Influencer Marketing Guide, “Influencers draw passionate audience
that engage with their content and actively take part in the
community conversations that stem from it.”

An article in Forbes reports that 85% of marketing communications
professionals worldwide will launch at least one influencer
marketing campaigns within the next 12 months.

Done right, influencer marketing is like having another team of
sales reps out there selling your product or service for you —
only in most cases they are doing so for free.

And they are often your most effective sales reps, because they
are credible experts or respected celebrities, and their
recommendation of your product more effective because it is an
endorsement.

I wish I could steer you to a report or info product of mine on
influencer marketing, but it is largely outside my wheelhouse and
so I have none.

If you offer or can recommend resources on influencer marketing,
please email me at rwbly@bly.com so I can share them with your
fellow Direct Response Letter Subscribers. Thanks!

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Category: Direct Marketing, General, Online Marketing | 4 Comments »

5 ways to profit from a powerful USP

December 22nd, 2017 by Bob Bly

You probably already know what a USP is.

But many people say to me, “Yes, I know what a USP — but why
would I need one? What is it good for? If I had a USP, how would
it help my business?”

Well, here are 5 specific areas where having a USP can make your
job easier while improving your business results:

1–Selling.

One of the toughest objections in selling is, “Why should we buy
blue widgets from you instead of our existing supplier or your
other competitors?”

With a USP, you can confidently and immediately respond with a
powerful, well-thought-out presentation of why you are different,
better, and the smart purchase decision.

2–Marketing.

We are taught to stress benefits in marketing, but if every
marketer in the field makes the same benefit claim, how can your
campaign possibly stand out?

The answer: formula a great USP and feature it in your ads,
letters, websites, and newsletters.

3–Content marketing.

We know content marketing is hot right now.

Well, one of the best applications is to create a white paper
clearly articulating the USP, and offer it as a lead magnet.

Doing so takes your USP from a brief differentiating factor to
blowing it out in a more well-reasoned, credible, in-depth
argument for why we are better than the competition.

4–Email marketing.

Offer an e-class — an auto-responder series of content-rich
emails educating your prospects on the details of your USP.

If your USP is strong, true, and sincere, it should go a long way
toward moving prospects on your e-list further along the sales
cycle.

5–Telemarketing

Your telemarketing reps face a tough, uphill battle on a long
road fraught with difficulty and disappointment.

But a well-crafted USP can help them turn things about — by
saying right up front something different and important that
catches prospects off guard and gets them to listen a bit more.

This simple 5-point checklist is just the tip of the iceberg. But
it should be a sufficient idea-starter list on the road to
maximizing ROI from your existing or new USP.

By the way, here’s an article I wrote explaining how to create a winning
USP:

http://www.bly.com/newsite/Pages/DMNCOL12.htm

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Category: General | 7 Comments »

The awful truth about today’s gurus

December 15th, 2017 by Bob Bly

When I was a kid in the 50s and 60s…

…a “guru” was someone who wore a robe, had long hair, lived on a
commune, and was followed by people who wanted to hear his
message of peace, love, and being one with the universe.

In the 70s, 80s, and 90s, a guru was someone like Tom Peters who
wrote best-selling business books and earned $30,000 an hour
speaking on the corporate lecture circuit.

Today a guru seems to be someone who curses like a sailor … goes
to any extreme to seem edgy and cool … has an ego the size of a
humpback whale … and wants to extract thousands of dollars from
you …

… by getting your credit card number so they can sell you an
outrageously expensive course, “training,” or mastermind group
membership — teaching how to make a million dollars a week in
info marketing, copywriting, coaching, consulting, small
business, or maybe option trading.

So — am I the only one tiring of this new generation of brash,
loud, conceited, egomaniacal gurus?

I asked a few of my Facebook friends, and apparently, I am not:

“I’ve been tired of it for a long time,” writes DP. “That’s why
I’m no longer buying these courses that teach nothing so you keep
coming back.

“I’m doing my own study and research. Much of what I need has
been found in cheap Kindle books. But much I also found just
searching google and reading blog posts of these supposed gurus.

“You see, they all believe in re-purposing content. So, if
they’re selling an expensive course, then this same information
is [more than likely available] somewhere else, much more
cheaply.”

SH writes, “I have been somewhat amused to meet several
self-styled marketing gurus who seemed to have close to zero
disposable income.” (In Texas they call that having “big hat, no
cattle.”)

“It’s scandalous,” proclaims SR. “I feel so sorry for the people
who get ensnared in the empty promises. Plus is it my imagination
or is the ‘guru din’ just getting louder and louder? My theory is
the really successful people are quiet about it.”

“I suspect 90% of us are disgusted with such dishonesty,” says
SN. “I think it makes everyone suspicious and unwilling to buy
even from the honest teachers.

“It causes confusion as we try to discern who we can trust. It
causes hesitation and no improvement for the student, his
business, or the customer whom he wants to reach. That sort of
dishonesty hurts everyone.”

Next, EG chimes in: “I hate the word guru because of how it’s
been used and abused over the past few years. It also makes it
hard for the good guys, because in the eyes of many, all teachers
and coaches are lumped together into this scammy business
category.”

“Making it worse, many of these gurus have never actually done
what they are offering to teach you how to do,” notes HC.

And as DB notes, “It’s easy to call yourself a guru and rake in
tons of money while giving peanuts in return.”

That being said, becoming a ***legitimate*** guru — a
recognized industry expert who in fact DOES have real experience,
credentials, and in-depth subject knowledge — can be the
fast-track to greater success as a consultant, coach, speaker,
copywriter, info marketer, or business owner.

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Category: General | 2 Comments »

9 reasons not to do spec work — ever

December 8th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Recently, my friends at AWAI asked me to participate in a small
panel discussion about writing copy on spec.

Spec work means no money up front, no obligation on the part of
the client to use or even read your copy, and no obligation to
pay you a cent.

Because I am militantly anti-spec work, and not just for
copywriters, I had to prepare for the discussion with a quick
outline of my anti-spec arguments — and here they are:

#1–No skin in the game.

The potential client who asks you to work on spec has no “skin in
the game.”

Without a financial commitment, he can abandon the project at any
time — no skin off his nose.

If he does so, you, by comparison, have just wasted your valuable
time.

#2–No respect.

If a prospect thinks you are worth your salt, is serious, and can
afford you, she will hire you.

Asking you to work on spec means she isn’t convinced you can do
the job or are worth the fee you want to charge.

Who would want to work for such a client?

#3–Whim.

Because spec assignments are so ephemeral and iffy, many editors
and marketing managers will hire you on a whim, some without even
having a real assignment or, if they have one, with no intent on
giving it to you.

#4–Vanishing royalties.

One form of spec work is, “We will pay you nothing now, but if
your copy works, we’ll pay you a royalty or percentage of sales.”

Yes, but if the client decides not to go ahead and run the promotion, my
royalty will be zero.

#5–Audition.

Asking someone to do spec work is in essence asking them to
audition.

Can you imagine asking your local pizza place to make and deliver
a pizza to you, without charging you, with the promise that if you
like it, they will become your regular pizza restaurant?

#6–Not vetted.

Not all, but the vast majority of companies that ask freelancers
to work on spec are small ad agencies or business — little
operators you never heard of and know nothing about. Meaning they
are not vetted.

Why would you trust such a stranger, already making a
questionable request, to be good for the money?

#7–Promises, promises.

A common enticement is, “If this spec project works out, we’ll
have a ton of work to give you.”

Why would you want to work for a client who starts with you by
saying they have so little confidence in you they will only hire
you without pay or commitment?

#8–“We’re testing several writers and the winner gets hired and
some money.”

If I wanted to enter a contest, I’d enter a beauty contest —
though obviously, I’d lose.

I’m not here to enter contests. I’m here to work with clients who
hire me with a contract, an agreed-upon fee, and a retainer for
half up front.

#9–It’s no way to run a business.

This short video makes a compelling case for why it is neither
appropriate to ask vendors to supply service or goods on spec,
nor a good idea for vendors to provide services and goods on
spec:

Exceptions? Yes. But relatively few.

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Category: General | 5 Comments »