I bought the third edition of Bob Bly’s Secrets of a Freelance Writer on sale at the Writer’s Digest bookstore, and that served as an introduction to his catalog of products of other books, ezines, and DVD’s that he promotes on his email newsletter. Over the years he has compiled a list of more than 80,000 email opt-in addresses, and he acknowledges that the real money is in marketing his products rather than in copywriting. He openly discusses his prices, which seem high in today’s market, but he’s got a reputation so he can charge more and get it. He’s been a successful New York copywriter for 30 years, but now he is too busy selling online to accept many copywriting clients and sub-contracts administrative, research, and accounting functions. He started in print direct mail marketing as a copywriter, but he has expanded online and now conducts webinars and has written 70 books, reports, 100 articles, and pamphlets.
After reading the book and reading his email newsletter “Direct Response” and his occasional blog posts on his web site, I bought his two-DVD set “Write and Design Winning Landing Pages” since I have been working on revising the home page on my web site for the past two months. It is a video of a workshop that he conducted with a small group, and the production quality is poor but it has some good points. It’s all about effective sales promotion, which is a weak point of mine. I’m a poor salesman, and that was demonstrated in two different types of sales jobs I tried during my career. Bob is almost too painfully honest to be a salesman, but that is part of what makes him engaging. A stay-at-home middle-aged family man with a paunch, he doesn’t fit the image of a high-pressure sales person. He obviously has a lot of mental energy as well as a background of expertise in a variety of fields.
He uses the same approach as Deidre Hughey, who I have cited in previous posts, of offering something for free but that has real value to engage potential customers and to actively solicit feedback. He acknowledges that in his careers both in direct mail marketing and marketing on the Internet he often has been wrong on specific strategies or wording even though he is an expert in both fields. That’s why he insists that to be successful you have to test using established methods to determine what gets results and what doesn’t. Let the market give you your answers. He is of the school that long copy sells.
He says it takes at least two years to build an email distribution list and that you can’t buy lists; you have to build it a step at a time where people chose to give you their email address in return for receiving something they want. Well, I don’t have the time or the patience to build such a marketing scheme, and I don’t have products to sell. The only things I have to promote are my services, and so do thousands of other writers. Sales promotion is one step in marketing, and although the tactics vary somewhat depending upon whether it is done in person or online it requires a long-range strategy.