If You Build It, Will They Come?

May 9th, 2005 by Bob Bly

Laypeople who look down on marketing ? especially long-copy, hard-sell direct marketing like e-book microsites ? say, ?If your product was any good, you wouldn?t have to promote it with such hype.?

Doctors, attorneys, and other professionals have traditionally held that point of view, along with many others.

Nice to think so, but na?ve. Sad to say, it doesn?t work that way in the real world.

?The expression ?If you build it, they will come? is not true,? said Steve Murphy, CEO, Rodale Inc., in an interview with Fast Company (3/05).

?We had lots of great properties at Rodale, but not enough of them were known. We needed to expose them to the mass market.?

Does your product or service ?sell itself?? Or do even good products need great marketing?

This entry was posted on Monday, May 9th, 2005 at 10:56 am and is filed under Direct Marketing, General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

37 responses about “If You Build It, Will They Come?”

  1. Dale Hansman said:

    Bob, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for the long copy pitches we see from you, AWAI and many, many others. For me, some of them represent a free lesson in good copywriting. I put them into my swipe file.

    I am torn between the effectiveness of short and long copy, and I read other people’s opinions about them (Nick Usborne and Ken Evoy, in particular).

    But, I’m not torn about whether one should promote one’s product or service. Mr. Murphy from Rodale is right. There are just too many options for our customers today. If you’re not in front of them with an intelligent, compelling message — long or short — they won’t go looking for you. My $.02.

  2. Everett said:

    A good thing to mention might be Apple. Thinking back to the mid 90’s and prior, their print ads looked a bit like their website does now – very long-copyish. (For instance, look at their OS X page.) And they’re presently the apex of cool, hip, and so forth.

    But on the other hand, the long copy seems to be the antithesis to their ethos – beauty in simplicity.

    What does that say?

  3. Ray Edwards said:

    The difference between hype and information is, I think, completely in the eye of the beholder. Some people respond well to the style of someone like Ted Nicholas; others prefer the more subtle (but just as ingenious) Seth Godin. If you tink Seth’s books are anything but long-copy sales letters for his consulting and speaking gigs… read them again.

  4. Richard Leader said:

    One of the markets I sell into – the accountancy market – sees itself as very much ‘marketing averse’. What that means is they are averse to what they see as marketing. However, they respond well to what they see as practical, useful and helpful information. And that’s what we use to market products.

  5. Henry Abbott said:

    There’s a generational thing going on. Seniors, I find, are impressed with the majesty of a well-made pitch. Teens, on the other hand, see directly behind the curtain of marketing, and would rather get that little Wizard of Oz out and see if he can dance.

    The rest of us are somewhere in between. And I’m sure long-form copywriting is still extremely effective for a lot of people. But I bet the trend is towards short and useful, instead of long and flowery. My top piece of evidence: consider the medium we are all using to communicate right now!

  6. PSloan said:

    Good marketing is a catalyst – it drives the offering to its true market position faster. This is particularly true when the market has not completely aligned its problem/need to the new solution.

    In rapdily changing, highly competitive markets with high barriers to switching, great marketing creates critical first mover advantage and reduces the probability of “false negative” market launches. In less competitive, slower moving markets, the advantage of good marketing is usually less obvious.

  7. Thomas said:

    Dear Bob,
    I’m writing from germany and may have an interesting point to make for you folks overeas. In the January issue of “Absatzwirtschaft”, a top-ranking german marketing magazine, the title story was about the ability of the germans to innovate — and about their inability when it comes to marketing their innovations (wich they leave to the americans, very often. Example: The Apple iPod).
    In today’s crowded marketplace, you clearly cannot hope to market your product successfully without “marketing”, even if it’s an innovative product.
    Rosser Reeves told us decades ago, that the world won’t automatically beat a path to the man with the better mousetrap, if the world doesnÄt know this better mousetrap first. So that’s the job of marketing, wheter it be ads, mailings, PR, blogging or other tactics: to tell inform people about new products — and make them want them.
    For me it is crystal clear that even a good product needs good marketing. (And you can’t save a bad one with any amount of marketing effort, BTW).

    Kind regards,

  8. GramBorder said:


    I want to all of you know, World is mine, and yoursite good


  9. toyota of morristown said:

    toyota of morristown

    ha-rd-po-rn-fu-ck 2795002 Search results for ‘toyota of morristown’.

  10. OnlineDrugstore said:

    Online Drugstore http://drugstoreon.atspace.com/ Online Drugstore

  11. asian erotic mature said:

    asian erotic mature

    ka-ka-sh-ka 2795002 Advantages of asian erotic mature.

  12. Andrew Hopkins said:

    I can do a blog on your website? how much it will cost?

  13. RMils said:

    How add your blog to google database?

  14. ProCopywritingTactics said:

    Well, I think you know the answer to that one Bob. If you don’t tell the world how great your product is, how will they know?

    Yeah, word of mouth comes into play later, but you gotta toot your own horn first….and then add all the happy customers comments as testimonials later… -:)

  15. joomla said:


    […]If You Build It, Will They Come? – bly.com blog – bly.com direct marketing blog[…]…

  16. Bert Dienhart said:

    It is in reality a nice and useful piece of info. I am satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  17. useful content said:

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thanks for supplying these details.

  18. Learn More Here said:

    This site was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!

  19. http://es.iacaiberry.info said:

    Utterly indited content , appreciate it for selective information .

  20. http://it.iacaiberry.info said:

    I dugg some of you post as I thought they were very beneficial very beneficial

  21. http://fr.muscleview.info said:

    I really like your writing style, great information, regards for putting up :D. “Inquiry is fatal to certainty.” by Will Durant.

  22. letmetellyouaboutbeer.com said:

    I truly love your website.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you develop this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my very own website and would love to know where you got this from or what the theme is called. Thanks!

  23. Shirlene Lockett said:

    Regards for helping out, excellent info. “I have witnessed the softening of the hardest of hearts by a simple smile.” by Goldie Hawn.

  24. Look At This said:

    I used to be able to find good advice from your content.

  25. my site said:

    An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was doing a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this matter here on your web site.

  26. article source said:

    I blog frequently and I truly appreciate your information. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I will bookmark your site and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed too.

  27. www.delhitechforum.com said:

    bookmarked!!, I like your blog!

  28. More Info said:

    It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people in this particular topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  29. http://it.muscleview.info said:

    I have read a few good stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you place to create the sort of magnificent informative web site.

  30. http://ccube.info said:

    I will immediately clutch your rss feed as I can not to find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Please let me know so that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  31. Dave Mccloud said:

    Thanks you for sharing with us.

  32. http://ccube.info said:

    I precisely needed to thank you very much once more. I am not sure what I would’ve tried without those strategies revealed by you on such a problem. It was before an absolute horrifying scenario in my circumstances, nevertheless coming across the very professional avenue you processed that made me to weep over happiness. Now i’m happier for your help and then believe you realize what a great job your are carrying out training the rest through your blog post. I’m certain you have never come across all of us.

  33. http://cz.miricoperu.info said:

    Thank you, I’ve recently been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I’ve came upon till now. But, what about the conclusion? Are you sure about the source?

  34. Jeramy Snoddy said:

    Halifax Real Estate MLS

  35. http://jpfo.info said:

    Rattling excellent info can be found on blog . “It is fast approaching the point where I don’t want to elect anyone stupid enough to want the job.” by Erma Bombeck.

  36. Mel Debenham said:

    Good article and right to the point. I don’t know if this is really the best place to ask but do you folks have any ideea where to employ some professional writers? Thanks :)

  37. Normand Munivez said:

    I intended to post you that little bit of observation to thank you so much once again for those marvelous solutions you’ve featured on this website. It’s really strangely generous of you giving unreservedly what exactly some people could possibly have distributed as an e book in order to make some bucks for their own end, even more so now that you might well have tried it in case you decided. These thoughts also served like the fantastic way to be sure that other individuals have a similar dreams the same as mine to know the truth great deal more pertaining to this problem. I know there are some more pleasurable opportunities ahead for individuals who read through your website.

Leave a Reply