An open letter to Bob Bly

Posted on November 6, 2004 
Filed Under Uncategorized

I used to read Bob Bly’s articles in Writer’s Digest with great enthusiasm. It came as a surprise to me that he was so quick to condemn blogging as a marketing tool.

Here is the original article that so riled some bloggers:

Can Blogging Help Market Your Product?

And here is my first reply to him:

Dear Robert Bly

I think you are the same columnist in Writer’s Digest whose ideas I used to enjoy reading. But I think you have really missed the boat here on Blogging.

The bottomline is “don’t condemn it till you’ve tried it”.  I think thousands of people jumped on the bandwagon to build websites and never made a “thin dime” either. There are reasons for that. Just as there are reasons that made some blogs “successful” while others flopped miserably. Blogging is just another tool that has come along. And it has real marketing possibilities. Dig deeper if you haven’t figured this out.

I am not overly enthusiastic enough to believe blogging is a panacea for all business ills. But it can work, like many websites have, given the right motivation and understanding of the tool and its ability to ‘engage’ customers in new ways.

As a shamefacedly, blatant self-marketeer in all your writings, you more than anyone else should know what blogging can do for your product/service which is mainly to promote Robert Bly.

Read rebuttal to your column by Bruner

Enough said.

Julian Matthews

And here’s Bly’s reply:

On Fri, 05 Nov 2004 15:45:14 -0500, Robert Bly wrote:

> You say “don’t condemn it until you try it.”

> I don’t condemn it … I just say it is not a proven money maker, and until it is, I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon.

> I prefer marketing that had demonstrated an ability to generate rapid, positive, significant ROI.

And my reply to him:

I wonder who was it — oh say about ten years ago — who said the Internet is not a proven money-maker and held back because of that, and now regrets because he didn’t see the ROI.

Early adopters never get credited when they actually succeed — only when they fail. There is a lot of wariness when it comes to the Net — and granted some of this is not imagined fear — but where was the “positive, significant ROI” when anyone began using the web? Or started using Yahoo or Amazon or eBay or Google or email to market their business? Or started using websites as a tool to promote or market a service or product?

It is early days yet. And blogging is just another tool. To be so quick to say it doesn’t work seems premature. Like websites, it takes discipline, commitment and focus to make a blog work. Just as in any business in the ‘real’ world. Some may have it, some may not. There are no doubt thousands of websites conceived to be the perfect 24/7 marketing tool for companies but are now languishing because someone failed to maintain the site and could not see the longterm “positive, significant ROI”.

Blogs aren’t for every company that chooses to be online. But they are here to stay. They are a new means to engage an audience — and therefore a customer base.

You misfired when you suggested “with a blog, the reader has to go out and proactively look for it. And since your contributions to your blog may be irregular and unscheduled, he has no way of knowing when something new of interest has been added.”

Didn’t we all have to proactively look for a website before we discovered the ones we liked and could subscribe to?

Read about RSS, permalinks, trackbacks, NetNewsWire, SharpReader, Straw, AmphetaDesk, Bloglines, NewsGator, and various other tools that are coming onstream. The add-ins and “blogware” are coming and some are already here. There are even indexes on what is blogged the most like Blogdex, Popdex, and Daypop.

And there are bloggers who are committed to posting daily even multiple times on a daily basis.

Here’s a quote from Jim Carroll:

“It’s a generational thing. To be blunt, senior management in their 40s, 50s and 60s-they don’t get it. They’ll never get it, and to a degree, we won’t see significant change until the younger generation takes over the corner office, because they’ve grown up in this universe. They think differently, they act differently, they don’t have the hangups.”

as it appeared in this Marketing Magazine article

Here are more references:

Blogging for dollars

Blogging for bucks

Bloggers adopt a revenue stream more lucrative than panhandling

What is a k-log?

Overview of blogtools market

In short, if you start a blog Mr Bly, you would realize how quickly it brings “positive, significant ROI” to you directly and indirectly once it is added to the indexes and blogrolled around the world.

As for your writing, I have no doubt it will NOT be “rambling, streams-of-consciousness musings … largely bereft of the practical, pithy tips”.

I am sure it would be a significant addition to the blogosphere. Just see how quickly the bloggers found you, and how quickly they are linking to you:

Well-known author upsets marketing bloggers



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