Bly: Focus on Prospect, Not Product

ORLANDO, FL — Think more about the prospect than the product in business-to-business copywriting, Bob Bly told attendees Friday at a session during the Direct Marketing to Business conference here.

“A lot of people write in a vacuum,” said Bly, a freelance copywriter and DM News contributor. “They look at the facts and features of the product. They never think about the prospects. You have to start with the prospect, not with the product.”

He called for an analysis of three things regarding the prospects: What are their beliefs? What do they feel? What are their desires?

The 20-year industry veteran also mentioned the importance of offers.

“Offers have become, especially in business-to-business lead generation, much more important again,” he said. “When I started 20 years ago, when it was called industrial marketing, there were no offers.

“Because people are so overwhelmed, you need to lead them through the steps of the buying process. You don't want to try to do too much in one promotion. You want to do enough to convince them to take the next step, and you have to have attractive offers that are free and have no risk.”

Bly advised looking for three things when hiring a copywriter: Are you familiar with BTB as a model? Do you have familiarity with my type of product or something like it? And results.

“Show me the copy you've done,” he said. “Has it worked and do I like it? Even if it worked, if it's not my style, I'm probably not going to buy it from you.

“A lot of copywriters or consultants over-promise,” he said. “You can't guarantee that you're going to beat the control. The reason for me to hire you is you have a lot of experience and so you have a good track record, so the probability of success is higher, but there's no guarantee.”

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