Archive | Writing Without Waffle

Psychological tricks worth buying into

HotelHave you ever noticed messages like these when you book hotels, flights and insurance?

  • 35 people have already booked this
  • 17 people are looking at this
  • Hurry, only 10 seats left

University College London (UCL) has recently published some research showing that these phrases significantly increase profits for travel websites.

They work due to the principle of perceived scarcity.

What’s more, UCL found that reviews are even more effective than a price cut.

Due to the power of social proof (peer pressure), this means the most convincing copy of all is written by your customers.

Continue Reading →

0

Icebreakers, energisers and gamification

GamesAs a copywriter, I know that sometimes the best way to get your message across is verbally, rather than via the written word.

But that doesn’t mean a list of bullet points in PowerPoint.

Years ago, when I worked at Freemans home shopping, I was asked to design some slides for an IT presentation.

“I want you to put a lingerie image in the middle of the slideshow,” my client said, “so it will wake the audience up.”

I refused, saying: “Why don’t you just rewrite it so it’s not boring?”

Continue Reading →

0

Can you copyright a colour?

ColourJust for a change, let’s explore copyright rather than copywriting.

Last night, I met the owner of a small business who’d been sued by Getty Images for thousands of pounds.

She had recently taken over the business from the previous owner. He’d innocently grabbed a picture from Google images and used it on the company website.

She managed to win the argument by immediately taking down the photo and proving it wasn’t her that had used it. Unusually, Getty backed down.

Many people think it’s OK to search the internet and help themselves to whatever images they find there. They are wrong.

Continue Reading →

0

B2B v B2C copywriting: What’s the difference?

plastic cupOn my copywriting training courses, I sometimes ask delegates to write a headline to sell a plastic cup. Usually, they focus on the drinking experience of the end user – a business-to-consumer approach (B2C).

However, the purchaser of the cup is likely to be the procurement manager of an office block, who buys the cups in bulk. They don’t really care about the user experience; they care more about the price and speed of delivery – a business-to-business message (B2B).

It’s not really a trick question. I do it so the trainees remember to always ask themselves who the real customer is and write their copy accordingly.

Continue Reading →

0

How copy really DOES make a difference

Many moons ago, I did a copy test for ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, in which I was asked to describe the last product I bought as a result of an ad.

At the time, I think I claimed that ads couldn’t persuade me to buy anything I didn’t already want.

I was wrong.

You may remember a blog post I wrote last year, about Eve mattresses: Oh, what a lovely bit of copy

BoxThat copy was so good, I have now invested in an Eve mattress. It arrived three days ago in a beautifully branded box (see right).

It’s evidence that a simple value proposition and clear tone of voice actively promote sales.

I’m not surprised that Eve has been listed in the CoolBrands® survey 2016/7. Congratulations to them – and a good night’s sleep to me.

Continue Reading →

0

Let’s talk about tone of voice.

tin canJust as every individual has their own personality, so does every brand. Some clients want simple copy written in Plain English. Others are brave enough to express their personality through their words. In one week, I was excited to write very different copy for a fashion-forward hairdresser, a family-friendly coffee supplier and a young, funky housewares retailer.

Clients sometimes ask me to produce a tone-of-voice manual to match their visual brand guidelines. It includes an analysis of their competitors’ language, and suggests a list of words and phrases to use or avoid to express their uniqueness while making them stand out from the rest and appealing to their target audience.

During these conversations, the fun and friendly tone of voice used by Innocent Drinks is often held up as a model.

But has this approach gone too far? Continue Reading →

0

Twitter. What’s the point?

ShrugAt the time of writing this article, I’ve published 14.7K tweets (every one a gem, naturally). Wow, that’s a lot of characters. However, there currently seems to be  another rash of p*rn and spam accounts that are diluting the impact.

So why do I bother?

I remember a week one November, when I won three bits of business from Twitter. That was a long time ago. In fact, I can’t remember the last time it happened. These days, it seems to be increasingly full of people tweeting into the void.

So does Twitter still have a place in your digital marketing strategy?

It depends Continue Reading →

0

Why writing your own copy is like waxing your own legs

LegsEver had your legs waxed? It’s painful. Hot wax is applied in strips and then ripped off, pulling out your hairs by the roots. Multiply the feeling of removing a sticking plaster by about 100. Very ouchy.

Copywriting can be painful too.

You might think it’s something you can do yourself – but it will probably take longer than you hoped.

Yes, you might know your business better than anyone else – but there is a danger that you’re too close to it. A good copywriter will translate what you want to say into language that your customers will respond to.

When you’re busy running your own business, you need to find uninterrupted time to write. Writing is quicker and easier for a professional copywriter – after all, it’s our job.

Continue Reading →

0