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    NevOn is the archive weblog of Neville Hobson, a British business communicator based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, a record of commentary and conversations from December 2002 until 22 February 2006. This site is no longer updated - please visit www.nevillehobson.com.
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04 November 2004


Evelyn Rodriguez

Thanks Neville for this piece. Strange, but the snippet you quote has an eerie resemblence to something one might read in a blog - for instance, it sure sounds like the "private, idiosyncratic musings of an individual". In fact, it's even more opinionated than many blogs.


"Apparently" a copywriting wiz = "self-described" copywriting wiz. My company's marketing director became just in love with this guy, kept pushing his writings on the rest of us (I have a copy of Bly's "Become a Recognized Authority in Your Field!" book on my shelf as a result of this).

He couldn't wait to hire Bly. So he hired him to write an email piece for a very specialized piece of software we had written, targeted to hardware and software engineers at companies building networking gear, cable modems, etc., who might want to embed this software in their product. Engineers with a very low tolerance for buzzword-driven BS. We went through this is great detail with him, how important that tone was to us.

What we got was copy that was suited for a late-night infomercial -- one colleague's response was to send us the URL to the Flowbee web site. We ended up writing the mailing ourselves, we were so embarrassed with it.

YMMV, etc.

Neville Hobson

Just what I thought, too, Evelyn, when I read the piece! I also thought Rick Bruner's rebuttal perfectly illustrated the second part of Mr Bly's description: without censure or editing of any kind.

AnonymousBoy, thanks for offering that rather sorry tale. I took a look at Bly's website. I was of the opinion that he probably is a rather good copywriter, based on what's on the website.

But your story tells me that while you can be a good copywriter, it counts for zero if you don't listen to your client and connect with what your client actually wants.

David St Lawrence

I have been carrying on an interesting email exchange with Bob Bly since I wrote a post titled, "Has Bob Bly joined Yesterday's Experts?"

He is a nice guy and didn't take umbrage with my post, but he really doesn't understand that blogging is two way communication. He is waiting for someone to give him proof of ROI for blogging.

I told him we have better things to do. It would be like trying to explain email to a recalcitrant executive. If someone doesn't understand the value of enhanced communication, they are not going to make it.

His recent comment was quite revealing:

"Enhanced communication"? B.S.! It's all about beating the control, improving the response rate, and making a dollar spent in marketing return a $3 profit instead of a 50 cent loss."

I think he is still stuck in the world of direct mail and static websites. His past successes may have rendered him incapable of change.

He needs to read blogs instead of reading about them.

Neville Hobson

Your last line says it all, David: he needs to read blogs. I think you're right, too, in that he does seem to be entrenched in a world that's rapidly changing. Or perhaps in a part of the world that won't readily change without some seismic movements. I see some similar luddite thinking here in Europe, too.

As for evidence of ROI, well, there's information on that all around us and being written about in blogs. Back to your last line: he needs to read blogs!

Bob Bly

Re: AnonymousBoy

The fact is I know much more than you do about what works in copy and what does not.

You took a strong piece of copy I wrote for you and watered it down to the usual client-written blather.

I would gladly challenge you in an A/B split test of my e-mail vs. yours any day.

Otherwise you are just reporting the subjective judgment of your team, which is opinion, and not fact proven by a test.

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