Why I Won’t Look At Your Website by Bob Bly

Posted October 21st, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

As incredible as it sounds, a lot of my subscribers want—even expect—me to work for them for free.

I don’t think they are bad people. They mean well. But listen…asking me to work for you without offering to pay me is at best in bad taste, at worst extremely insulting.

For instance, TR recently sent me the URL to his new website and asked for my comments. And this isn’t an isolated incident. At least once a week, a subscriber sends me the URL to his site and asks if I can “take a look” and tell him what I think.

Unfortunately for them, critiquing websites is a paid service called a Copy Critique. I advertise it right on my website.

So why would TR think he should get a copy critique for free when dozens of others have paid $750 to $1,000 for the exact same service?

Doesn’t that seem unfair to my paying clients who, if they got wind of this, would rightly get upset with me?

Almost daily, I get requests: look at my website…look at my salesletter…look at my special report…look at my e-book…look at my infographic…and tell me what you think.

The very same day I heard from TR, I also got an e-mail from PH, who says he likes my guidelines on copywriting and has written three salesletters based on them.

Then he drops the bomb: “I put my best effort into those 3 letters…yet, I’d like to e-mail you those letters and have you comment on each letter as to whether it is written well enough to interest a buyer to purchase.”

Reading this, my immediate thought was: “And what’s my motivation?” In my office, our solution now is to e-mail a short, simple, standard refusal, sent by Ilise Benun, who is my copywriting agent. Here is exactly how we replied to PH: “Bob passed your message to me and asked me to let you know that he appreciates your admiration but simply does not have time to review your work (or anyone’s work) at no cost.

“His fee to review your 3 letters and provide a written critique and his specific recommendations for improvement would be $1,000. If that is of interest to you, just let me know.”

The objective of our boilerplate reply is not to get people to hire me for the copy critique. Rather, it is a polite way of telling people that I do not work for free.

I say polite, because if I told PH what I was really thinking of his request, it would offend him. Ilise has the ability to react in a reasoned and rational way, where I might not hide my irritation well.

But…PH, if you are reading this, watch this short video from Harlan Ellison; he explains my position on why writers should not work for free much better than I do.

Almost as bad as moochers like PH and TR are legitimate marketers—companies with the budget and knowledge to hire and work with professional copywriters—who ask you to write for them “on spec”. I’ll take this up in our next essay…

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

The World’s Worst Marketing Tactic by Bob Bly

Posted October 20th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

The biggest waste of your time, and quite possibly the least effective marketing strategy for freelance copywriters and other self-employed creative services professionals, is to join local networking groups.

I define a networking group as a group that exists for no other purpose than for people to get together and attempt to get business or referrals from one another.

At the networking group in your area, you will find almost all the members to be local professionals serving your local market: the dentist, the real estate agent, the home inspector, the chiropractor, the owner of the local gym, the manager of the local restaurant or tavern, the HVAC contractor, the interior decorator, the home builder.

This is not a good audience for you for several reasons. These businesses are too small to be decent clients for creative services. They do not have any money, or if they do, most do not spend it on marketing.

The few who do spend money on marketing do not appreciate the kind of A-level marketing that you provide and are content to run amateurish, ineffective ads in the local paper, TV, billboards, and the like. They do not value what you do and are unwilling to pay professional rates for your services. They have no sense of graphic design and no appreciation for the skill of copywriting.

The worst thing about networking groups is all the members are there to sell, not to buy. My clients hire me to write copy because they want good copy. The dentist you meet at the networking group will promise to hire you to write a little ad or brochure for him if you make him your dentist. Business is done for the wrong reasons. And you and I should want no part of it.

A much better place than networking groups to network is at meetings of the local chapters of associations whose members are your target market. The national meetings are even better if you have the time and budget to go.

For instance, I am a member of the Specialized Information Publishers Association (SIPA), and most of the members are marketing directors for publishers of newsletters and other specialized information products—a prime market for my freelance copywriting services. I am also a member of the Business Marketing Association (BMA), the trade association for B2B marketers, and have been since 1979.

But my go-to strategy for getting business from associations and other professional groups is not to go as an ordinary attendee and network like all the other business-grubbing schlubs there shoving their business cards at potential clients who don’t want them.

My networking tactic is to volunteer to speak at a meeting. Reason: the speaker stands out from the crowd, doesn’t have to actively network, and gets more attention and inquiries from all the other vendors in the room combined.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

A warning sign that perhaps you should not take on a client is when you have to work really hard to win the job. They make you jump through all sorts of hoops. You have endless meetings. At the end of all this, you are rewarded with a tiny job. Was it really worth all that hard work for such a small paycheck?

Source: Matthew Parker, Printing Impressions, 3/14, p. 14

5 great tips for handling customer complaints

Posted October 13th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

1. Provide FAQs: half of customer complaints are from confusion and not an actual problem.

2. Listen to what the customer wants and not what you think they should want.

3. Get your team working together: 80% of complaints are because the original request was not dealt with adequately.

4. Fix the source: assign one person to uncover the root cause of a common complaint.

5. Notify the customer when the problem has been resolved.

Source: QSCC, 4/15/14

A Valuable Lesson From Brand Marketers by Bob Bly

Posted September 28th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

A classic 1960s ad aimed at getting marketing managers to advertise their company’s products in McGraw-Hill trade journals showed a picture of a dour-faced purchasing agent. The purchasing agent challenges the reader: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know your company. Now, what is it you wanted to sell me?”

The increasing problem I see in much digital marketing today is pitches from companies and gurus who think I should buy their consulting services, seminar, boot camp, or training…yet I have never heard of them.

So why would I think they know anything or have any interest in what they are peddling?

Obviously we are much more likely to buy from someone we know, like, and trust than from a total stranger.

Yet so much online advertising I see today is from total strangers making the arrogant assumption that I know who they are and have an interest in them and what they are selling.

In one recent e-mail, AS, a wanna-be guru, proclaimed himself to be “the world’s #1 Internet marketing coach”.

Well, unless he is Terry Dean, Fred Gleeck, Perry Marshall, or Rich Scheffren in disguise…he is most assuredly not the world’s #1 Internet marketing coach.

The fact that I have been in info-marketing for decades but have never heard of him also puts his claim on thin ice.

In this respect, digital and direct marketers can learn a thing or two from the branding people—a group we direct marketers (me included) often view with contempt, because what they do seems to be all about image and not measurable.

But as Mary Ellen Tribby reminded her readers in a recent essay, brand advertising does have one powerful benefit: it gets the prospect to remember the product and the company selling it.

Intel and IBM made billions because they had built superior brands, not because they built superior technology. You trusted the brand. IT professionals have an old saying: “Nobody ever got fired for buying an IBM computer that didn’t work.”

Solopreneurs, self-employed professionals, consultants, speakers, and info-marketers use a variation of Madison Avenue advertising some call “personal branding”.

Personal branding is a combination of self-promotion tactics designed to boost your market’s awareness of you.

These tactics can include but are not limited to: search engine optimization, writing articles, PR, webinars, white papers, e-newsletters, case studies, blogs, special reports, books, seminars, speeches, social media and many others.

The common thread of all these tactics is the central premise of personal branding, which is this: selectively disseminating how-to information on your area of expertise to your target market of potential clients or customers.

It is in essence using content marketing to establish yourself as a recognized expert in your field.

And it does work: Many of my copywriting clients have told me they had read my books and articles or heard me speak prior to hiring me. The vast majority of my info-product buyers have read my articles in these twice-weekly e-mails, Target Marketing magazine, and other publications.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

For people thinking of starting an online business the key to success is making many friends and online contacts in advance of setting up their business. Do this by joining communities, forums and online networking and meetup groups. Join many and make lots of friends.

Do this well in advance of even selecting your online business or affiliate program. This will help you succeed as when you select and start your business you will have lots of people to send marketing material and to sell to.

Existing online businesses should do this also. Remember there will be about a 90-day delay to get a sale once you identify suitable people and actually start making sales.

Why It’s Not OK To Curse In Your Copy by Bob Bly

Posted September 26th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

An allegedly successful Internet marketer sent me an e-mail recently, the first line of which read: “I am having a c*nt of a day.”

Yes, he used the c-word.

When I told him I was offended, he said my opinion didn’t matter, he writes what he wants, and that I am a “fat old c*nt”.

When I told this story on Facebook, I was stunned when the post generated a thread with well over 500 comments.

The most shocking thing is that some of the participants—a minority, to be sure—actually argue that it is OK to use the c-word in business communication.

To make things plain, let me state: Using the c-word in polite conversation is not acceptable. Never. This is not debatable issue. It is a fact, pure and simple.

In the U.S., a large number of your readers find the c-word to be a distatesful and degrading term.

Yes, Brits and Aussies find the c-word more acceptable. But unless you are certain your audience has no Americans, stay away from the c-word.

Some of the defenders of the c-word, the n-word, and the f-word said it is a branding strategy that helps them select the kind of rebel readers they want.

Well, a branding strategy that offends a large portion of the civilized world—and identifies you as an ill-mannered lout—is pretty darn stupid.

And when you strip away all the arguments, the bottom line is: cursing is rude and uncivil. And decent people are polite. Yes, it’s that simple.

The fact that I have to state and defend this simple rule is shocking to me and signals the possible end of western civilization as we know it.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Newbie freelance copywriter MP recently asked me for feedback on his new website.

When I told him what to do, he defended the very things I said did not work on his site my telling me, “Well, my son thinks I should try it this way.”

When I asked, he shared that his son is 28-years-old. I have been a freelance copywriter for 7 years longer than his son has lived.

“Who do you think knows more about marketing freelance copywriting services—me or your son?” I asked MP, who of course said it is me.

By the way, this scenario happens multiple times each month and it is the primary reason why I do not offer mentoring or coaching services.

It is also why I am close to shutting down the free help I so readily give to copywriters, Internet marketers, and other entrepreneurs online.

My question to MP, if he is reading this, and to others who ask for free advice and then argue when they get it, is this: Why would you ask my opinion, which normally sells for $500 an hour, and then, when I am nice enough to give it free, instead of thanking me, start to argue with me?

Presumably, you asked because you correctly recognize that I know more about the topic than you do—why else would you ask me in the first place?

The reason I know a bit more than you is not because I am smarter, but because I have more experience.

A rule of thumb to which of course there are numerous exceptions says that those with more experience in X know more about it than those with little or no experience, right?

Louis CK has a wise and amusing take on this notion.

MP’s son is a kid and not a copywriter. MP knows that I have been a successful copywriter for 35 years. So why would he turn to MP Jr. for a second opinion on my advice?

Here is the possible explanation: In over 3 decades of helping people, I have learned that many people who say they want advice actually want something else: they want confirmation of what they already believe.

As long as your advice is in line with what they already are doing or want to do, they thank you.

But if your advice is in opposition to their belief or plan, they argue and defend their position.

Here’s why I told MP to ignore MP Jr. and listen to me only…

If MP was a paying client, I would be willing to entertain the debate for my $500 an hour rate.

After all, my clients are paying me a lot of money, are gambling a lot more money on their marketing, and want to be confident they are taking the right path.

But if you are not paying me for my time, and I am generous enough to give some of it away to you, I am going to want to keep it short for obvious reasons: I have a lot of other things I could be doing in that time instead, all of which make me money.

Fair? Reasonable?

To me, yes. And to MP, who thanked me, fair to him too.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

The Power Of Free

Posted September 21st, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

It has been proven time and time again that the word “free” turns more prospects into customers—for example, offering a free bonus gift when the prospect buys. If you are building a list or simply want a prospect to take a first action, offering a valuable free report is often highly successful. Note: Dick Benson wrote this in 1991 and it is every bit as true today.

Source: Richard Benson, “Secrets of Successful Direct Mail”, Passport Books

Get more attendees for your webinars.

Posted September 19th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

Most of us promote our webinars heavily to our house e-lists, but Rally Point Webinars suggest using 3 additional lists: lists of affiliate partners, rented e-lists, and best of all, the e-lists of the speakers you are featuring in your webinars.

If the webinar is a free event, point out to your speaker what a great benefit it is to offer to her valued subscribers. If there is a product up-sell or a fee for the event, give the speaker an affiliate commission on all sales made.

Source: “How to Market Your Webinar,” Rally Point white paper, p. 11

3 ways to get more clients with better follow-up.

Posted September 18th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

Business coach Mara Glazer says everyone in a client-based service business should spend 15 minutes a day doing the following 3 activities:

1. Pick up the phone, and call someone you met at an event but haven’t connected with offline quite yet.

2. Call an old lead that never turned into a client to see how they are progressing (or not progressing) without you.

3. Call someone you maybe never met before but that you’ve wanted to work with.

“I know for many it’s uncomfortable, but it works,” says Mara. Her advice: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, pick up that phone, and finally follow-up so you can start watching your client enrollment (and the number in your bank account) begin to rise.

Source: Mara Glazer, Working Moms Only, 4/10/14

According to my colleague Brian Kurtz, Boardroom founder Marty Edelston had 4 core principles for business and life success:

1. He outworked everyone.

2. He had insatiable curiosity.

3. He surrounded himself with people smarter than himself whenever and wherever possible.

4. He always thought about what he could do for you first.

Follow your passion…NOT!

Posted September 16th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

According to an article in Psychology Today, following your passion when choosing a career or business often leads to the poorhouse.

That’s because most people’s passions lie in mostly creative outlets (e.g., writing), worthy causes (e.g., the environment), entertainment (e.g., movies), or glitz (e.g., decorating).

As a result, the number of people pursuing these interests is overwhelming, so many companies in these areas pay employees poorly, and entrepreneurs in these niches are pressured to lower prices because of too many competitors.

Source: Psychology Today, 8/14, 9. 46.

In my last essay, I complained about an association that asked me to speak for free. They would not cover my expenses. And the worst offense: they even wanted me to pay to attend my own talk!

Although most of my subscribers agreed that this was a raw deal, a couple of you suggested I could make it pay off by selling my services, my books, or both during my talk.

Well, this doesn’t work for me, because I will not, under any circumstances, pitch my products or services from the platform.

Yes, I am aware many speakers make a lot of money selling their books, CDs, and coaching programs from the platform or “BOR”—back of the room.

I do not condemn them or say it is wrong. Indeed, BOR selling is a time-honored method of income generation for professional speakers. There are books and training on how to do it. But it is not for me and never will be.

There are a few reasons. The first is that, for me, it has a sleazy feel. I know it is a legitimate method of revenue generation for speakers. But to me personally, it is distasteful…and in 35 years of speaking I have never done it, not even once.

Second, and worse, your audience has paid to be there. So they have a right to expect that if they paid to attend your hour session, every one of the 60 minutes is dedicated to you delivering the content you promised—and plenty of it.

You are there to educate the audience on how to do a task or improve their mastery of a skill—and not convince them to hire you for consulting or coaching or to buy your tapes.

The only ‘selling’ takes place when the meeting coordinator reads your 1-minute bio right before you go on stage. The bio explains why you are a credible speaker on the topic, and by extension, makes the audience want to know more about what you can do for them.

I intensely dislike it when speakers take 5 or 10 minutes out of their hour talk to deliver a rehearsed, canned pitch on buying their products, with special offer packages that are good only that day.

My informal surveys show that half the audience is OK with this. But to the other half, it demeans you and causes them to lose respect for you. Who wants that?

The worst offenders are “pitch fests”—events where sponsors actually take a cut of the speaker’s product sales from the day.

To maximize their profits, these event producers pressure speakers (it has happened to me, and of course I refused to participate) to sell expensive packages of books, info-products, coaching, and other services while on stage…and to push them hard.

As a result, many speakers push the product throughout the talk, and in doing so hold back valuable tips, telling the audience instead “this is in my book”. In some of these events, virtually the entire presentation is a thinly disguised sales pitch.

This is the cesspool of professional speaking. To be fair, many embrace and profit from it. And to them I say: You can have it. But if you are a meeting planner, please let me know in advance so I neither speak at nor attend your event.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Is being asked to speak at a meeting without pay a nice compliment and a great promotional opportunity or a terribly demeaning insult?

Recently, LH, an executive with a marketing association of which I am a member, invited me to speak for free at an upcoming national conference.

That’s OK; many associations, LH’s included, do not pay speakers if those same speakers are also vendors who want to sell their services to the membership.

But here’s the insult: not only did LH not want to pay me to speak, which I expected and accept …and not only did he refuse to pay my travel expenses (mostly air fare and lodging), which surprised me…but he also expected me to pay to attend the very conference at which he wanted me to speak for free!

I replied, “I appreciate your consideration but I must let you know that it is disrespectful not to pay your speakers’ expenses, much less ask them to pay to attend, especially when you’re charging more than $100 for attendees. I would have liked to participate but under these circumstances I simply cannot afford to.”

A few years ago, my friend GB and I wrote a book and as a result were asked to speak at a dinner meeting of a local ad club.

When we got there, the meeting planner asked us for $45 each for our dinners.

“Uh-uh,” said GB firmly. “You invite someone to speak, you don’t ask them for money.” The meeting planner backed off and we did not pay. But it was awkward.

If you get asked to speak for free, should you accept? Here are my guidelines to handling this situation to your advantage:

1. Make sure the audience in fact consists of people who are your potential clients. Otherwise, you are largely wasting your time.

2. Avoid speaking dates conflicting with important events such as the World Series. Otherwise, attendance at your speaking gig could be minimal, resulting in no business for you.

3. Don’t give the audience a sales pitch for your services. Instead, deliver the most useful and interesting advice and tips you can in your talk.

4. Write out a brief bio saying who you are and what you do, and give it to the meeting host to read when she introduces you.

5. Ask them if they are willing to video your presentation and give you a copy for your use. Then post the video on your site and to YouTube, or sell it as an info-product.

6. If it is a local meeting, don’t nickel and dime about expenses. Spring for the parking. For a national or other out-of-town meeting, the association should pay all your expenses—air fare, hotel, meals, ground transportation. And you should be allowed to attend the entire event, or if not at least the entire day of your talk, for free.

7. Even though you are not getting paid in cash, ask for compensation in other forms such as a free ad in the organization’s newsletter or free use of their mailing list.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

If you are a small business owner or self-employed professional, the most important thing for you to understanding about setting a marketing budget is that all money spent on marketing should be “risk capital”.

By “risk capital”, I mean money you can afford to lose without it keeping you up at night…money you do not need to pay the mortgage…money that, if you lose it all, it won’t hurt you financially or have a big negative impact on your life.

Marketing is like the stock market and gambling in this way: you can make money, but you can also lose money.

In all three endeavors, there is no guarantee you will make money.

In fact it is quite possible in all three areas (though least likely in marketing) to lose all of your money—every penny—and people do from time to time.

A case in point is SH, an energy consultant. I recommended that he do a small e-mail marketing campaign to generate leads with a free report offer.

He found a “cheap” e-list from a source I considered questionable (cheap lists virtually never work) and, despite my advice, rented the cheap list. As I expected, it generated zero results.

Then SH was hesitant to try again with a list I considered legitimate, because the reputable list broker I sent him to quoted him $1,500.

Though a fair price, the 15 hundred bucks for sending 5,000 e-mails was more than SH was willing to risk.

Did I have any alternatives? My answer to SH was as follows: “I do have a number of ideas, but here is the problem: they all cost money.

“List brokers, copywriters, ad agencies, and others want to generate leads for you and can.

“But, they cannot work for free. You have to have some cash to play, just like at the casino or the Dow. The odds are better in marketing. But they are not 100%.”

Action step: if you are a business start-up or cash-strapped solopreneur, determine and write down the maximum dollar amount of money you are willing and comfortable to risk on marketing.

Then go from there. Perry Marshall, the pay-per-click guru, advises small marketers that they can test Google AdWords for as little as $100 a day.

And it costs nothing to write an article on your area of expertise for a blog or your local newspaper or a trade journal, if you do the work yourself.

My parting observation: Do you need both time and money to be successful in marketing? No. But you do need at least one of them.

If you have no money, you use “sweat equity” and do all the work yourself. If you have no time but you are flush, spend some of that money and hire others to do the marketing for you.

And if you have neither time nor money? Then you can’t do marketing for your product or service until you find one or the other. Sorry.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

In my last essay, I mentioned that in the early 1980s, I worked for David Koch as advertising manager of his equipment manufacturing company Koch Engineering in NYC.

At Koch Engineering, the company was innovative in a couple of its B2B marketing tactics. I take no credit for either. The guys came up with them long before I got there.

The first winning Koch marketing method was the tactic of demonstration.

Old-time sidewalk peddlers were masters at demonstration and knew its value. Contemporary versions of these sales masters can be found in department stores showing how to prepare dip or make soda.

So too modern marketers who use infomercials to demonstrate products ranging from juicers and household cleaners to exercise videos and equipment.

Well, at Koch Engineering, we sold “tower internals”—objects placed inside refinery towers to enhance the distillation of petroleum into heating oil, jet fuel, kerosene, gasoline, and other hydrocarbon products.

One of our biggest selling internals was a “tray”—a metal disk with openings and moving parts that sat inside the cylindrical tower.

Most of our competitors, in their trade show booths, laid the components out on table tops for prospects to examine.

Koch did something light years ahead of this: we built a scaled-down model of an oil refinery—the tower was about five feet high—with our trays installed inside.

The model was made of transparent plastic so you could see the trays in operation. Instead of petroleum, we ran water through it. The result: prospects could see the liquid bubbling on and running across the tray surface. Very cool.

The model itself, and the running water and noise of the pump, got an order of magnitude more attention than the internals would attract just sitting on a tabletop.

The second winning Koch marketing method, also used to sell trays, was content marketing.

Kids, don’t believe the content marketing evangelists who pretend this is a big new idea. We were doing it at Koch in the 1970s.

We offered in our advertising a free “tray design manual”. It was packed with tables, charts, graphs, technical information, and guidelines that showed engineers how to specify the right trays for their process.

There were no PDF downloads back then. The tray design manual, spiral bound and with fold-out diagrams, was an expensive book to produce.

But it gave the customer valuable information that benefited our marketing in 4 ways.

First, by offering the free manual—valuable content—instead of just an ordinary product brochure—sales copy—we greatly increased the leads generated by our ads in magazines read by engineers.

Second, the manual educated the prospect on how to specify and buy trays, so that they would be more inclined to buy Koch trays vs. other manufacturers’ trays (the design specifications in the manual were specifically for our trays, not other brands).

Third, giving away the manual positioned Koch Engineering as the experts in enhancing distillation in oil refinery towers. We were the guys who “wrote the book” on tray design.

Fourth, based on the principle of reciprocity—which is that when you give something valuable to people, they feel obliged to reciprocate in some way—it made the recipient slightly more inclined to favor us with his business.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

A Marketing Secret From David Koch by Bob Bly

Posted August 8th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

I recently read a fascinating new book, “The Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty”.

The book is particularly of interest to me, because in the early 1980s, I worked for David Koch as advertising manager of his equipment manufacturing company Koch Engineering in NYC. It was my second job out of college after a year with Westinghouse in Baltimore.

Koch Engineering was headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, but David preferred Manhattan, so he had a small satellite office in NYC and that’s where I worked.

One day, we had a meeting to review the preliminary design of a new 40-foot trade show booth, which for us, was a big deal.

As you might expect, everyone had a different opinion. Some liked it. Some hated it. Some said it was too white. Some said it was too tall. And the room buzzed with argument.

Finally, David silenced us by asking in his powerful baritone voice, “Do you know what a moose is?” (David is six-foot-five and has an imposing physical presence.)

We were silent. Had he gone nuts? What the heck was he talking about?

A second later, he answered his own question: “A moose is a cow designed by committee.”

We all got the point and quickly approved the design in front of us, which as ad manager I was responsible for.

Today, this issue comes up all the time. If you are a marketer or business owner, should you solicit an opinion about the new billboard or magazine ad your agency has just presented a design for from everyone and his brother?

Or should you make the decision alone, or perhaps with a little feedback from one or two trusted advisors, whether your spouse or your sales manager?

Recently, a client I wrote for showed my copy to, it seemed, more people than there were on the Titanic.

I asked him why he felt the need to do so.

He said that the more opinions you get, the better, because everyone’s opinion is valid.

But is everyone’s opinion valid?

Aren’t some people more qualified to comment on a website for a CPA firm or an ad for an industrial mixer than others?

I do not play golf. Is my opinion of your new golf club ad as valid as yours, or Tiger Woods’?

Here are the people whose opinions on copy I value most: my client, who is typically the marketing person for the product, her top subject matter expert, who is typically the product manager, editor, or publisher, or maybe a design engineer or formulating chemist, and her compliance officer, who can tell us whether our copy is legal.

Beyond that, the more people you involve in the copy review process, the greater your risk of violating David Koch’s advice and creating a moose when what you want is a cow.

By the way, David has become a controversial and famous figure in the decades since I worked for him.

I can tell you that he is an extremely smart engineer and businessman. He was also a good boss and a nice guy. Bottom line: I always liked the guy.

When I went to work for him, he was running for vice president of the United States on the libertarian ticket with Ed Clark.

One of David’s product managers, MM, whom I directly reported to, told me David really didn’t want to be VP of the USA all that much. He wanted to support the libertarian party. And as a candidate, a loophole in the election law allowed him to contribute an unlimited amount of money to the campaign.

At Koch Engineering, the company was innovative in several of its B2B marketing tactics, which I will tell you about in my next essay. They don’t think of themselves as marketing guys. But they were actually pretty good at it.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

Creating and selling a workbook, either at the back of the room in public seminars, or up-front to the corporate client for onsite training, is a great way to increase your speaking or training fee.

Workbooks are easier to write than books because there is less content and more white space. For workshops, workbooks add tremendous value for participants while also making your job as workshop leader easier.

What to include in your workbooks: Supporting text to explain exercises, fill in the blanks, easy questions, worksheets, spreadsheets, thoughtful discussion questions that the reader can answer, plenty of white space for writing.

Source: Stephanie Chandler, “The Notification Book Marketing Plan,” Authority Publishing

A Little-Known Key To Direct Mail Success

Posted July 7th, 2014 by Nelson Tan. Filed under Business

Marketers argue over what aspect of direct mail—copy, graphics, list, or offer—is most critical. But, according to DM guru Craig Simpson, they often overlook another important factor of DM success: choosing the right direct mail format for your product and your market.

For example, if you are selling joint pain supplements, the most successful type of format for that product category is the magalog. But how can you find out the best format for your product, offer, and market?

Find the biggest direct mail company in your niche and see what they are mailing, advises Simpson. If you don’t know who the biggest is, contact a list broker and ask. In financial
publishing, for instance, the biggest direct mailer is Agora, so you should use the same formats they do.

It’s easy to get any company’s mailings: Just buy one of their products and you will soon start getting most if not all their mailings.


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