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Bob Bly

Hiring a freelance copywriter is no small responsibility. Make the right choice, and you get great copy that brings in leads, sales, and profits.  Make the wrong choice, and you end up pouring thousands of dollars down the drain.

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When creating a DM package selling a newsletter subscription, you know you’re going to have an outer envelope, a sales letter, an order form, and a business reply envelope. But what else? Here are the options available…

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“What kind of respond can I expect from my lead-generating mailing and what percentage is considered good for business-to-business direct mail?” Let’s see if we can shed some light on the topic.

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Self-mailers have seen
a resurgence — most notably the magalog for long copy and the standard
postcard for short copy. Why use postcards instead of a traditional DM package, tri-fold self-mailer, or other formats?

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One of the biggest misconceptions about writing to CEOs, CFOs, and other senior executives is that they speak some alien language that has only a passing resemblance to the conversational or written English you and I use every day…

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Since time immemorial — or at least for the quarter century I’ve been in direct marketing — people have vigorously debated the merits of long vs. short copy.

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Are there certain industries whose business model is dependent on not helping customers — businesses designed to actually be more profitable when not giving customers the best advice, products, and service? Here are some that have been suggested to me.

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Is Blockbuster lying to us? Some people think so. Blockbuster’s new commercials promise, “The end of late fees.” But of
course, that’s impossible: if there is no penalty for returning a movie
late, you could keep it forever.

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“Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement,” wrote Samuel Johnson.  Today we know he was right: to break through the clutter and generate a profitable response, direct marketing must make a big promise.

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Writing in the Internet Age

by Bob Bly on February 27, 2009 2:30pm

in Business Management

I was asked to comment on an article on business writing two authors had submitted
for publication. The article’s premise was
that, even in our technological era, writing skills are more important
than ever. Here was the reply I gave:

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“What’s the most effective length for a business-to-business sales letter?” a reader asked me the other day. Let me see if I can give some sensible guidelines to answer this common question.

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The best way to get ideas for headlines when you are stuck is to keep a swipe file of successful headlines, and consult it for inspiration. Here’s a partial collection of such headlines from my swipe file, organized by category.

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After a quarter of a century in business-to-business marketing, I think I’ve finally figured out an accurate, authoritative answer to the question, “What’s the difference between business-to-business marketing and business-to-consumer marketing?”

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Tests have shown that varying the outer envelope can increase or depress response rates in an A/B split — even if the mailing inside is identical — by 25% to 100% or more. Here are 9 important outer envelope factors to consider…

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Reality in advertising

by Bob Bly on February 22, 2009 2:30pm

in Business Management

In 1961, Rosser Reeves published his classic book Reality in Advertising in which he introduced the notion of the Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. According to Reeves, there are three requirements for a USP:

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The magic of false logic

by Bob Bly on February 21, 2009 2:30pm

in Business Management

False logic, a term coined by master copywriter Michael Masterson, is copy that manipulates, through skillful writing, existing facts to help readers come to conclusions that those facts, presented without the twists of the copywriter’s pen, might not otherwise support.

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Online marketing expert Debbie Weil recently asked me, “How do you know whether an e-zine is successful?” “An e-zine is successful if it achieves its stated marketing objective,” I replied.

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How well do you really know your customers?  Knowing that you are writing to farmers, Information Technology (IT) professionals, or plumbers is just the start. You have to dig deeper.

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Those of us who make our living with words are naturally disheartened when we hear the various “war cries” of hardcore online users and marketers: “Print is dead” … The success of James Mustich, Jr. is a refreshing exception to these
claims.

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With so many Web sites crowding the Internet, you need to make an extra effort to get noticed.  One way is to make your site search-engine-friendly.  There are two key steps that can help you do this.

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