Bob Bly

Bob Bly

Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of 80 books, including “How to Write and Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit.” Find him online at or call (973) 263-0562.

Is a Free Book the Answer When It Comes to Lead Generation?

I’m working for several marketers whose campaigns are centered on the offer of a free book. But in an age where it seems everyone is publishing a book, is a free book still an effective offer? In my opinion and experience, yes. Let me share with you why.

Can a Computer Write Better Copy Than You?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about companies developing software that can write copy. Naturally, copywriters are both a bit skeptical and a bit nervous that, if the software works well, it will put them out of work.

Sometimes Old-School Is Better

The search engine Google is a boon to freelance copywriters, giving us fast access to much more information than we could ever dig up at those old-fashioned data depositories we used to call "libraries." As a result, it's easier to write stronger copy today, because specifics sell, and Google gives us all the specifics we need.

Qualifying Prospects With the MAD-FU Formula

In a recent issue of my e-newsletter, "The Direct Response Letter," I wrote about how many of my readers send me their URLs and ask me to critique their websites for free, with no offer to pay me for it ... And how that irks me and I refuse to do it. In his Oct. 28, 2014 article, Denny Hatch took me to task and said I was making an error refusing my subscribers their free critiques.

Return to Sender

In my humble opinion, "mindless gab" is the perfect descriptor for social media, an activity of which I am largely not a fan, though a sometime participant. Now I am gratified to find new research supporting my point that social media marketing 1) has a very low return on time invested (ROTI) and 2) is therefore, to a large extent, mindless gab. Let's look at some studies:

8 Ways to Write Effective B-to-B Headlines

I recently came across an article in a marketing trade publication (not this one) praising some top B-to-B ad agencies for supposedly creating great print ads. I was blown away—but not in a good way.

Don't Be a Fool

Recently, I sent an email to my online subscribers driving them to a video selling an information product produced by Mary Ellen, one of my joint venture partners. In return, I received an email from a subscriber—who shall be known as MH—taking me to school not for recommending the product, but for sending him to this particular video sales letter.

Then and Now

B-to-B marketing is fundamentally different today than it was in years past, such as when I entered the field in 1979. Let me contrast then and now to show you the major differences and how it affects your work.

Nurture Vs. Nature

In the early 1980s, when I was advertising manager of Koch Engineering—a manufacturer of process equipment—industrial marketing was a simple two-step process. First, you generated sales leads. Second, you turned the leads over to the sales force, who took it from there.

4 Direct Mail Truths HubSpot Got Wrong

I have long admired the people at HubSpot for their online marketing acumen. I routinely download and read their marketing e-books with pleasure. But their recent analysis of direct mail—"6 Horrific Practices of Direct Mail"—displays a stunning ignorance of what works and what doesn't work in direct mail.

How Do You Make Content Valuable?

How do you make your content valuable and worthy when there is so much amazing competing content out there? This cannot be adequately answered in a short reply. One solution is to strengthen not the content, but the source.


Up until the dawn of the Internet, I thought I knew pretty much all there was to know about B-to-B marketing communications. Since the Web's advent, new B-to-B marketing methods have proliferated, some of which I know almost nothing about. Marketing automation is at the top of the list. I knew it was a hot trend, had some vague notion of what it entailed, but my understanding was foggy at best.

Technical Know-How

A lot of B-to-B marketing either promotes technical products, sells to a technical audience or both. The technical nature of these marketing campaigns poses a challenge to those who must create them, because the marketers tasked with executing these high-tech marketing campaigns often lack a technical background.

Strolling Down Memory Lane

In 1980, I took a position as the advertising manager of Koch Engineering, a firm in New York City that manufactured industrial process equipment. The company used a small Madison Avenue ad agency, RSMK, and our account was handled by an account executive named Lansing Moore.

All Hype or Truly Hip?

With the rapid evolution in marketing technology, today's B-to-B marketers have become overly obsessed with finding the next big thing. Unfortunately, the next big thing often turns out to be nothing much. Here are 10 of today's top marketing trends and my curmudgeonly take on each.