- Discover why is it better to copy something that’s been working rather than being original
- Learn the advantages of having a swipe file and how can use it to write a star-seller copy
- Understand why looking for copywriters in-house isn’t always the best solution to your bad sales
- Want to learn more about how to write copy that drives sales? Click here: bly.com
Do you want to learn how to write a copy that actually sells without the stress?
Writing copy isn’t supposed to be difficult if you have the right people and techniques for the job. An effective copy can be modeled from something that is already working, rather than original.
Robert Bly is a freelance copywriter and author of 100 books.
Grab a pen and take down notes as Robert talks about what differs from a copy that’s just good from one that works and actually sells. He also shares how you can write your own A-level copy that guarantees engagement and sales!
Check out these episode highlights:
- 02:21 – Robert’s ideal client: My ideal client is twofold. Number one, I only work with clients that are direct response or direct marketers that could be online. It could be multi-channel.
- 03:41 – The problem he helps solve: The standard answer would be getting more sales, more clicks, or conversions. But the problem that clients really have is they tell me I can’t get a copy anywhere that’s right.
- 04:55 – The symptoms of the problem: The two symptoms. One is the obvious– bad numbers. They say, “I ran this Google campaign.” “Send it to my landing page.” And it’s like zero or it’s very low!
- 05:58 – Clients’ common mistakes before consulting Robert: Here’s what I think a lot of clients quite naturally, and I think it’s fine, will inhouse. They have staff or employees who will write their own copy.
- 07:18 – Robert’s Valuable Free Action (VFA): If they want to write better copy and do it themselves, or have someone on their staff do it, that copywriter should keep what we used to call in the good old days, I don’t know if you use this today, a “swipe file”.
- 08:58 – Robert’s Valuable Free Resource (VFR): Want to learn more on how to write a copy that drives sales? Click here: bly.com
- 10:02 – Q: How do you get from B-level copy to A-level copy? And really stand out as a copy. A: I think the quick definition of A-level copy is it’s a big idea. In other words, it’s not “seven reasons to buy a garden hose”.
Tweetable Takeaways from this Episode:“It's better to model after something that you know is working than to be brilliantly creative and original.” -Robert Bly Click To Tweet
(Note, this was transcribed using a transcription software and may not reflect the exact words used in the podcast)
Tom Poland 00:10
Welcome, everyone, to another edition of Marketing the Invisible. I’m Tom Poland beaming out to you from the Sunshine Coast in Australia. I’m joined today by Robert Bly, a.k.a. Bob. Welcome, sir! A good day from Down Under. Where are you hanging out?
Robert Bly 00:22
I am hanging out, as I always do, in New Jersey, on the east coast of the USA.
Tom Poland 00:27
New Jersey Turnpike, they’ve been John Malkovich. Right?
Robert Bly 00:30
That is one of our major roads. The Turnpike, and the parkway,
Tom Poland 00:35
Not a fun place to get dropped out onto the sidewalk, probably, but anywho! So how do you- I mean, in New Jersey, you’re really close to New York, right?
Robert Bly 00:42
Very close to New York. And if there was no traffic, it could literally be a 15-minute drive. But, these days, there’s always traffic.
Tom Poland 00:51
So is New York like a big brother to New Jersey? Is that sort of chip-on-the-shoulder thing between the two that sometimes there’s a sibling rivalry?
Robert Bly 00:59
Yeah, I don’t think it’s a big brother. You know, there’s a little tension between the governments. But I go into the city a lot, and I like it.
Tom Poland 01:07
Yeah, it’s one of the places where I have not been to. It’s on my bucket list, for sure. But we better get off local geography and onto the subject at hand. Folks, if you don’t know Bob, then you’ve probably been living in some sort of marketing cave for the last 40 years. He’s written a couple of books, just over 100. And by the way, these are real books. These are not brochures. These are real books. And Bob turns up to work every day because he wants to turn up to work every day. He’s got this puzzle that he puts together for clients, which is mentally stimulating. He’s got to immerse and soak himself into the client’s world of products and target market and come up with copywriting because that’s what he does for a living, that’s going to sell stuff. So he is one of the absolute preeminent masters at the subject we’re going to be interviewing on, which is, “How to Write Copy That Sells”. And we could actually insert in there, “How to Write Copy That Actually Freakin’ Sells”. I mean, shock works, right? So, Bob, a very warm welcome again. This is, I think, at least the second time around, if not the third. A privilege and a pleasure to have you back on the show. Let’s get cracking! Our seven minutes start now. Question number one is, always, who’s your ideal client?
Robert Bly 02:21
My ideal client is twofold. Number one, I only work with clients that are direct response or direct marketers that could be online. It could be multi-channel. But I don’t work with clients that are doing awareness, or branding. If it cannot be measured, I don’t want to do it.
Tom Poland 02:39
So that really puts you at the pointy end of sales and marketing because it’s not brand awareness, which is, perhaps measured by some third-party research organizations. This is money in the bank stuff. This is sales. They’re all metrics and will all be counted. So you really put yourself at the accountable end of the whole marketing cycle.
Robert Bly 03:00
To me, that’s the only fun because if you’re doing brand awareness, how do you know your commercials better than their commercial? There’s no measurement. Well, at the end of the day, if I’m writing a promotion for a dietary supplement, and Gianelli is doing it, and she gets better conversion and gross, she beat me, and vice versa.
Tom Poland 03:19
Is that part of the edge that you enjoy with this game?
Robert Bly 03:23
Oh yeah because you can always measure it. If she beats me, I go back to the drawing board if the client will let me and come back with something stronger. And then I might beat her.
Tom Poland 03:32
Yeah, interesting! So tell us about the problem you solve. I mean, clearly, it’s to do with getting more sales in the door, but what else is there? Is there anything else to unpack on that?
Robert Bly 03:41
The standard answer would be getting more sales, more clicks, or conversions. But the problem that clients really have is they tell me I can’t get a copy anywhere that’s right. By right, I mean correct. “The copywriters I hire either don’t know anything about copy. They’re newbies, or thereabouts”, and the clients say, “I could write better than that.” Or “They do not understand my business– my marketing, my funnels. They don’t understand what I’m trying to do. They don’t understand my audience.”
Tom Poland 04:14
Yeah, and I’ve heard that comment quite a few times. And I mean, my copywriting ability, you’d have that in your little fingernail, but I’ve also heard that quite a few times that people come in to do a copywriting job. And the client says, “Let me tell you all about the product, the marketplace”, and the copywriter goes, “Yeah, I don’t need any of that. I just do stuff that works.” And they don’t get the cut-through! They don’t get the motivation. It’s all just “blah, blah, blah” in the marketplace. That’s the problem you solve as you get more runs on the board– more clients, more money in the bank account. Let’s look at the symptoms. What would you say are the typical symptoms of someone who really needs to reach out to you and talk about working with you? And, folks, I’m not an affiliate for Bob. But what are the symptoms?
Robert Bly 04:55
The two symptoms. One is the obvious– bad numbers. They say, “I ran this Google campaign.” “Send it to my landing page.” And it’s like zero or it’s very low! “My open rate is .00 1% with my emails.” They’re getting bad numbers! The other one is they say, “I’m putting so much work in this. We’re doing these campaigns. We think they’re going to work. We put up a lander. We drive traffic. Nothing happens! We keep doing the same thing. Frustration, whether it’s on my staff or freelance, or copywriter after copywriter. You know, we’re getting tired of this! I’m the marketing guy right in the company. This is a pain in my butt!”
Tom Poland 05:34
Yeah, you have sleepless nights too!
Robert Bly 05:36
Tom Poland 05:37
We’re talking about organizations here that have been very proactive in terms of marketing. They’re setting up systems. They’re measuring stuff. They probably even know what’s going on and what’s not working. So what I’m saying is they’re investing time, they’re investing money, they’re investing trying to find the right expertise, but it’s not working. So what are some of the top mistakes that your clients tell you they made before they found your solution?
Robert Bly 05:58
Here’s what I think a lot of clients quite naturally, and I think it’s fine, will inhouse. They have staff or employees who will write their own copy. And I could go into why it’s bad copy, but they often produce copy that is frighteningly, subpar. If you read it, you’d say, “What are you doing?” And the other one is they don’t know how to construct or build funnels. They know what a funnel is, but they don’t know how it works. And those are the two major flaws. And the third one is languaging. They write copy that’s just the facts. And there’s no emotion, there’s no drive, there’s no heart and soul. So it’s accurate to a degree, but it doesn’t drive people. It doesn’t gauge or grab them. We had an old saying, “Just grab them by the lapels, and hold on”. It just doesn’t engage.
Tom Poland 06:51
Yeah, I see it a lot as well. It’s, it’s often about them about their vision, about the admission about their products about their services about me, me, me. And if they do get started to move towards the benefit, very often, it’s just generic terms, blah, blah, blah. So what would you say would be a top tip? Question five is what can folks do to solve the health problem, but it could be a really useful step in going in the right direction.
Robert Bly 07:18
If they want to write better copy and do it themselves, or have someone on their staff do it, that copywriter should keep what we used to call in the good old days, I don’t know if you use this today, a “swipe file”. Let’s say you do dietary supplements. You’re getting a lot of emails in that field. If you’re not, you should buy some products. So you get them. And when you get them, most of them have no impact. But you say, “That. That would work!” So you print it out. I mean, you can keep it on your computer. I print it out, and I drop it in a file. It’s a swipe file. Now, if I get that one again, and again, and again, I take it out of the file and put a red checkmark because that means it’s working because it’s being repeated. And that’s how you keep a swipe file.
Tom Poland 08:02
And a sub-question for you, do you have those moments where something had just reached out and grabbed you by the lapels? I mean, it was it just gets cut through and you go, “Oh, my God! That’s it.” So you’re observing your own reactions to copy what you’re reading?
Robert Bly 08:16
Yeah, I mean, obviously, you want to know the results which is why we do the triple swipe. You get it four times, five times, six times. Where you see a direct response TV commercial 10 times a week, you know it’s working. But yes, it’s also your reaction. You say, “That resonates. Could I-” We use the term “knock it off” or “copycat” it? “Can I add that format, that style, that approach to my product?” And I’ve done that many times. It’s often successful, sometimes not, but it’s better to model after something that you know is working than to be brilliantly creative and original, which is what Madison Avenue advertising in the US wants to do.
Tom Poland 08:58
All right. Yes, to brilliantly create a copy that didn’t work. So if it’s getting repeated by particularly a larger organization, ad infinitum, you know that something’s working there because they’re using the same formula. That’s gold right there! Question six is a valuable free resource. Where can people go to find out more about your work, and get more stuff? And I know the answer. I’m just going to tell people– bly.com. If nothing else, go and get this, Marketing Rules of Thumb: The 99:1. The 99:1 rule of affiliate marketing. 99% of your affiliate sales will come from 1% of your affiliates. The other 99% of your affiliates will sell virtually nothing, not worth your time! There’s a 99 rule of free-to-pay conversion. It’s a 50:50 content sale ratio. You just got to go and get these folks. This is gold here!
Robert Bly 09:41
It’s right off. You don’t have to enter your name or address. It’s just right on the homepage. There’s a button, click, and you can get it.
Tom Poland 09:49
Fred Gleeck’s Rule of 10x Price, and Jeffrey Lant’s Rule of 7. It’s just a little veritable goldmine in and of itself! You can go there and get their other cool stuff there as well. Bob, question seven, last question, what’s the one question I should have asked you, but didn’t?
Robert Bly 10:02
The question that you maybe should have asked or that I think is of interest is how do you get from B-level copy to A-level copy? And really stand out as a copy. And I think the quick definition of A-level copy is it’s a big idea. In other words, it’s not “seven reasons to buy a garden hose”. It’s a big idea that the reader hasn’t, the prospect hasn’t heard before. With a lot of proof, and clearly expressed, big idea clearly expressed, and a lot of proof.
Tom Poland 10:36
A big idea clearly expressed, and a lot of proof. Perfect! I’ve made a note. Bob Bly, thank you so much again for your time and your insights.
Robert Bly 10:44
And I’m adding to that-
Tom Poland 10:45
Robert Bly 10:46
Tom Poland 10:48
Yeah. Add what? I’ll wait.
Robert Bly 10:51
Yeah, I was going to say, the one thing is, in the proof, it’s nice to have a system, a way it works that nobody else has. And I always look for a system.
Tom Poland 11:02
Perfect! All right. Gold nuggets! I’ve made lots of notes. Thanks so much for your time, Bob.
Robert Bly 11:08
Thanks, Tom. Bye, bye.
Tom Poland 11:11
Thanks for checking out our Marketing The Invisible podcast. If you like what we’re doing here please head over to iTunes to subscribe, rate us, and leave us a review. It’s very much appreciated. And if you want to generate five fresh leads in just five hours then check out www.fivehourchallenge.com.