Let Bob Bly Teach You …

If you’re like most people, you dislike public speaking.

And, if you’re like most beginning copywriters, you love the idea of getting clients. But you dislike the idea of going after them.

A bit of a dilemma here. Just like in the rest of your life, in copywriting you often have to do things you’re not crazy about, if you want to get ahead.

So, why not combine these two activities—public speaking and seeking clients—and make the best of it?

I learned this strategy from one of my favorite master copywriters … Bob Bly. I read about it in Secrets of a Freelance Writer before I’d even launched my copywriting career.

It made sense, what I read in Bob’s book …

Another great way to build your reputation and get your name around is by giving lectures.

Most talks are given at lunch or dinner meetings of local advertising clubs, trade associations, professional societies, or business groups.

Like I said, it made sense. But I didn’t get a chance to see the strategy in action until I moved up to my rural community and joined my local Rotary Club. There I found out from the inside how much groups such as ours want speakers to liven their meetings.

But, why you? You’re only a beginner. What could you possibly tell a group that’s asked you to speak?

Here’s the trick …

You may be a beginner in your own eyes, but as an AWAI-trained copywriter, you know far more about direct marketing than your audience.

They want to hear what you have to say. Here’s why …

  1. You’re the “expert.”

    Every beginning copywriter faces the challenge of not having enough work to show off. So, what can you offer that makes you a desirable copywriter?

    Your training. The skills you’re learning at AWAI. Your rapidly growing expertise.

    And, the quickest, easiest way to make yourself the “expert” is to stand in front of those eager, targeted listeners. You have information and knowledge they want and need.

    Just by your being there, your audience feels, “since he was asked to speak, he must know what he’s doing.”

  2. Face-to-face contact builds lasting relationships.

    Speaking to these groups lets potential clients put a face—and a smile—to your words. You’re no longer simply a name asking for work. You’re a real person.

    No more being sent to their voice mail. No more hoping they got your letter. No more playing phone tag.

    They know you personally. And they like you, because you’ve done a favor for the organization they belong to.

What to tell your eager audience …

Do not talk specifically about your copywriting business. Your audience doesn’t want to hear a commercial. Instead, talk about something members can benefit from … like the advantages of a targeted direct-marketing campaign.

In this case, you’d tell how such a campaign costs them less than other types of advertising. (But, be careful if a local radio station owner is in the audience. In that case, change your pitch accordingly.)

Your goal is to provide solutions for business problems. Let the audience make the connection between those solutions and you. Help them make that connection by giving them a physical take-away from your presentation. This could be something like “10 Reasons Why Targeted Marketing Will Save You Money, Time, and Stress.”

Make sure your name and your contact information are printed on the take-away. Also, staple a business card to it.

Be sure—and this is important—to stay around after your presentation to chat with members.

Know your audience and their group …

Never go to these meetings without finding out about the group you’re talking to. For example, if you’re talking to Rotarians, compliment the group on the success of their “End Polio Now” campaign.

You’ll not only make friends by researching the group, you’ll understand more about the members, their passions, and their goals. Remember: The key to successful sales is “know your prospect”!

Where to find eager listeners …

It’s easy finding groups to talk to. As a Rotarian myself, I know how eager these organizations are to find interesting speakers at their meetings. And, how hard it is to fill the slot consistently. If you ask them, you’re assured of a sincere invitation to speak.

Here are a few suggestions:

CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE: Do an Internet search on “Chamber of Commerce” and (one at a time) the cities and towns you’re willing to travel to.

KIWANIS: International service organization (www.kiwanis.org). Click the “Find a Club” link on the home page. After putting in the city and state or postal code near where you want to speak, you’ll be taken to a map of local clubs with web addresses. Use these to find contact forms for individual clubs.

LIONS CLUB: International service organization with emphasis on vision and hearing (www.lionsclubs.org). Click “Find a Club” on the top right-hand side of the home page. On the page that opens, put the city and state or postal code where you want to speak in the box under the heading “Find a Club.”

OPTIMIST CLUB: International service organization with emphasis on children (www.optimist.org). I couldn’t find an easy link to local clubs. Do an Internet search on “Optimist Club” and the cities or towns you’re willing to travel to.

ROTARY INTERNATIONAL: International service organization (www.rotary.org). Click “Club Locator” on the small menu in the upper right-hand corner of the home page.

SOROPTIMISTS: International women’s service organization with emphasis on women and girls (www.soroptimist.org). Click on the “Our Clubs” link on the left-hand side of the home page. On the map that opens, click the location where you’d like to speak.

TORCH CLUB: Locally based professional organization in 70 locations throughout the U.S. (www.torch.org). Click on “Connect to a Local Club.” Then click on the map that opens.

Finally, do an Internet search for other local and regional business and professional groups that host speakers at their meetings. Also, target specific professional groups like local medical, educational or legal organizations with an Internet search.

Be creative. Look in local newspapers and libraries for meetings of local organizations. Listen to local radio shows. Listen in on conversations around you. Ask your friends and associates.

Just one of many strategies …

Speaking to interested groups is just one of many client-building strategies Bob Bly has used personally to build his $600,000-per-year career. He revealed these strategies in July at an exuberantly received live event.

This was the first time Bob presented these strategies live in over nine years. And he says he probably won’t be giving a similar presentation again in at least as long a time … if at all.

But don’t feel like you missed out on this rare opportunity. You can still benefit from Bob’s 35 years of perfecting these strategies.

Click here to find out how you can learn all of Bob’s secrets of getting and keeping clients that he revealed to a small group of AWAI members in July. And how you can do it in the comfort of your own home … and at your convenience.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: September 1, 2014

1 Response to “Let Bob Bly Teach You…”

  1. You know…there are times in life when you wonder how you got to where you are from where you came from. When I eventually have the opportunity to look back on my copywriting career, I will be able to pinpoint the exact place where my career really began. This article is what they call a lightbulb moment in time…

    I couldn't think of a faster, or more direct marketing strategy to launch you into the stratosphere of getting the clients you want in such a short period of time. Great article and I am thankful that I have access to vital information like this.

    ParrishSeptember 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm


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