Archive | Writing Without Waffle

Notes on copywriting

You’ve heard that you have to turn features into benefits. That you should write from your customer’s point of view. That you ought to use the word ‘you’ more than you use the word ‘we’. So here’s an example of how it’s done:


Each apartment features a unique layout, designed with ease of living in mind. These luxury apartments offer ample space for everyday living.


If you are looking for great accommodation with a light and contemporary layout, designed with ease of living in mind, you’ll find we have an apartment to suit you.

If you want to check your own website, you can use the We We Test.


Twittle Red Riding Hood

Want to know how Twitter works? Read this story as a novel way to learn about the etiquette of Twitter code, conversation and content.

(With apologies to the real owners of these usernames)

@ LittleRedRidingHood Pls would you take this basket of food and deliver it to @ Grandma?

@ Mum OK, although I’m a bit scared going through the forest on my own

@ LittleRedRidingHood Just be careful and don’t talk to any strangers

Just checked in to ‘The Forest’ on FourSquare

@ LittleRedRidingHood Where are you going, little girl?

RT @Mum Just be careful and don’t talk to any strangers // That means YOU!

@ LittleRedRidingHood *Sniffs. What’s that in your basket? #HungryLikeAWolf

@ BigBadWolf Some goodies for my Grandma. Now go away and leave me alone

Just checked in to ‘Grandma’s House’ on FourSquare

@ BigBadWolf Who’s that? ARRGGGHHHH!!!

Just swallowed Grandma whole. What did you have for lunch today?

Now dressed in Grandma’s clothing. What are you wearing today?

@ Grandma OMG, what big eyes you have!

@ LittleRedRidingHood All the better to see you with, my dear.

@ Grandma OMG, what big ears you have!

@ LittleRedRidingHood All the better to hear you with, my dear.

@ Grandma OMG, what big TEETH you have!

@ LittleRedRidingHood All the better to EAT you with, my dear. #HungryLikeAWolf

ARRGGGHHHH!!! #RunsAwayScreaming

For your chance to win a F.R.E.E. 30-minute telephone consultation about social media, email before 31/3/2013. One lucky winner will be picked from all entries received by the closing date. Good luck!

Nice day in #TheForest. What’s it like where you are?

@ Woodcutter Hayulp! Hayulp! @ BigBadWolf has got into @ Grandma’s account!

@ BigBadWolf Get out of @ Grandma’s account right now, or I will Block you and report you as Spam

@ Woodcutter Grrr!

*Swings mighty chopper


Just escaped from inside @ BigBadWolf thanks to @ Woodcutter!

#FF @ Woodcutter So brave! So fearless!

D LittleRedRidingHood Mmm, you look nice in red xxx

D Woodcutter Thanks, shall we have a Tweetup?


Key to Twitter code

@ Username = Clickable link to a particular
Twitter user in a public message that other Twitter users can see

RT = Retweet = Tweet that is passed on by other Twitter users

#Hashtag = A way to collate all tweets about a particular keyword

#FF = Follow Friday = A recommendation to other Twitter users to follow a particular username

OMG = Oh My God

Pls = Please

D = Direct Message = A private message only possible between Twitter users who follow each other and only seen by them

Tweetup = Meetup arranged on Twitter

This article was originally published on Business on Twitter.

One of the services I provide for clients is writing Twitter and Facebook updates as the voice of their brand. Alternatively, I can train you how to do it yourself. Please contact me if you’d like some social media help.

This article has also been published on Fresh Business Thinking and Business on Twitter


2 ways to separate business and personal on Facebook

1. Use ‘friend lists’ to send separate status updates

Go to your Profile

> Friends

> Edit friends

Choose ‘All friends’ from the dropdown list

> Create a list

(Or hover beside each x symbol to ‘Edit lists’ you have already created)

Click the Facebook logo and write your status update

Click the padlock symbol

> Custom

Under ‘Make this visible to’ choose ‘Specific people’

Type the name of your list e.g. ‘work’ or ‘home’

> Save setting

> Share

To check that it has worked the way you want…

Go to Account

> Privacy settings

> Customise settings

> Preview my profile

Type the name of an individual from your list/s, to see what they see when they look at your profile

2. Create a Facebook Page

Your Profile collects Friends; while your Page collects Likes (previously known as Fans). Your Page must be connected to your Profile (although if you don’t click to ‘Like’ your own Page, no-one will know you have anything to do with it).

Click the Facebook logo top left

> Adverts and Pages (which may be under ‘More’ in the left hand column) OR Search for ‘Pages’ and click the icon that looks like blue and green speech bubbles (NOT the icon that says ‘App’).

> Create Page


Local business or place


Company, organisation or institution


Brand or product


Cause or community

Choose Category

Name your page after your company (or for SEO)

N.B. Your Page Name Must Have Initial Capitals or Facebook Will Reject It!

Tick T&Cs

Get started

[EDIT: Since the launch of Google+ circles, Facebook has now changed the way it manages friend lists]


4 ways to enhance your LinkedIn profile

1. Edit your ‘professional headline’

Go to Profile > Edit Profile and click ‘Edit’ by your name. Instead of just typing your job title and company name in the ‘Professional Headline’ field, write a keyword-rich description of what you do. This text shows up when your name is searched on Bing (it sometimes shows on Google too). The first line of your profile Summary shows in Yahoo search results, so fill that with benefit-led keywords too.

2. Give (and get) recommendations

What other people say about you is more convincing than anything you say yourself (as I keep banging on about!). So you need Reviews for your products, Testimonials for your services, and Recommendations for yourself. LinkedIn makes it easy to ask for recommendations. Go to Profile > Recommendations > Request recommendation (if you choose to do this, it’s good netiquette to customise the default ‘request’ message). I prefer to give recommendations instead, and get them back thanks to the law of reciprocity. The ‘Recommendation this person’ link is in the right hand column of each contact’s profile (naturally, people have to be in your LinkedIn network before you can recommend them).

3. Customise your URL and public profile

If you want to send the link to someone, you’ll find the default URL (web address) for your profile is not very catchy. Go to Profile > Edit Profile > Edit public profile to customise your URL i.e. change the random string of numbers to your own name, if available. You can also tick and untick the boxes on this page, to select which elements of your profile you want the public to see i.e. people not in your network. You will see a preview showing changes as you make them.

4. Make your website link keyword-rich

Go to Profile > Edit Profile and click Edit by your website. Instead of choosing ‘Company website’ from the dropdown menu, choose ‘Other’. You can then customise the link text that clicks through to your website (this is good from a search engine point of view, and useful for human readers too).


Measuring social media ROI

What you measure depends on your objectives at the start e.g.

If you’re using social media to boost your Google ranking, use Google search. Search Google for ‘Google’ then click ‘Everything’ and ‘More’ to search just blogs or ‘realtime’ tweets. (If you ‘vanity search’ your website, name or keywords, be sure to click your link/s and spend time browsing around your site so Google treats it as a ‘real’ search.)

If you’re using social media to build more inbound links to your site (a good way to boost your Google ranking) you can monitor success with backlink tools such as BackLinkWatch.

To analyse your web traffic, use Google (or Yahoo) Analytics. You get numbers, graphs and charts at an unbelievable level of detail, and it doesn’t even cost anything.

If you want to grow your network, simply count your likes/fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter, contacts on LinkedIn, and subscribers on your blog.

To monitor your level of engagement, impact and influence, use tools such as Twitalyzer, Twitter Grader or Klout, and count your RTs on Twitter and comments on your blog.


2 reasons why people go to the Internet

I’ve written before that there are only two reasons why people go to the Internet. They are looking for information or entertainment (or a bit of both, as provided in this blog). So I was interested to re-read this passage in the book Illusions, by Richard Bach:

[Richard and Don, the reluctant messiah, have gone to the cinema to see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in answer to Richard’s question ‘Why are we here?’]

“…any people anywhere who go to any movie show, why are they there, when it is only illlusions?”
“Well, it’s entertainment,” I said.
“Fun. That’s right. One.”
“Could be educational.”
“Good, it’s always that. Learning. Two.”
“Fantasy, escape.”
“That’s fun too. One.”
“Technical reasons. To see how a film is made.”
“Learning. Two.”
“Escape from boredom…”
“Escape. You said that.”
“Social. To be with friends,” I said.
“Reason for going, but not for seeing the film. That’s fun, anyway. One.”
Whatever I came up with fit his two fingers; people see films for fun or learning or for both together.

Like cinema, people don’t go to the Internet to be sold to (which is a challenge for those of us who do Internet marketing – we have to be so much more creative about the way we do it).


The power of slogans

I was at a networking event where Andy Szebeni was speaking about defining your USP. ‘Life of Brian’ was one of the visual (and aural) aids he used to communicate his main message – be different! The same message that is in my book, my own training courses and my blog.

There were three coaches in the room (I know, wait for ages and they all turn up at once, baboomtish!). So I had a go at writing instant slogans to differentiate each of them:

The strategist who declared that he gets results more quickly than the average coach:

“Coaching with go-faster stripes”

The executive coach who gets all his business via word of mouth:

“Executive coaching by introduction only”

And the one who coaches start-ups, speakers and returners who has a flower for a logo;

“Helping you to bloom and grow”


“Coaching with blooming good results”

There was also a specialist in organisational development, who defined ‘lateral thinking’ as her USP:

“A right brain approach to solving left brain issues”


4 tips about using LinkedIn

[Edited to add: Since LinkedIn discontinued their ‘Answers feature, this article is now 3 tips about using LinkedIn. See below.]

1. Have a good professional profile (like a CV), that is rich in keywords for search engines (e.g. in the ‘Professional Headline’ section found under ‘Edit profile’). It should also include recommendations from people who know you. You can send a ‘Request for recommendations’ (if you do, I recommend you personalise it). However, I find the best way to get recommendations is to give them, because of the ‘law of reciprocity (and because I feel more comfortable about doing it that way).

2. Ask your network for introductions to the people you would like to reach (again, only do this if you are clear who you want to reach and why). This is one of the most powerful tools of LinkedIn, but be sure you have a good reason for wanting the introduction and don’t worry if your go-between chooses not to pass it on because they are protecting their own valued contacts.

3. People may already be talking about your particular topic, and you can quickly be seen as an expert when you add value to the discussion. It’s like being at a conference, exhibition or trade fair that specialises in your area of interest online, 24/7. Search the Groups to find the conversations. Just as if you walk into a new pub, there may be people chatting about fishing in one corner, football in another, and work somewhere else, you wouldn’t walk in wearing a sandwich board and shouting ‘buy my stuff!’ Instead, watch and listen before you join in. Don’t be sales-y or you will soon be ‘jumped on’ by other members of the group.

4. Ask and answer questions in the Answers section (you’ll find it under the More link). The best answers get rated highly, so it’s a great way of demonstrating your expertise and getting noticed.

[Edited to add: As of January 2013, LinkedIn has removed the ‘Answers’ functionality. If you find ‘Q and A’s a useful way to source information and demonstrate your expertise, I recommend instead.]


Marketing is like unselfish sex

Dear Clients,

Please stop asking me to write copy that describes how passionate you are about your business.

Your customers don’t care about “your passion”. They only care what YOU can do for THEM.

Thanks in advance.

Me x

P.S. While you’re at it, please don’t ask me to include your mission statement either, as refusal may offend.


My business card story

Despite me wittering on for years about ‘people buy people’ and ‘use your own photo in your marketing if you are what you are selling’, my own business cards used to be more corporate than personal.

That’s all changed.

At last night’s networking event, I passed around a choice of old and new business cards. Everybody, yes, everybody, chose the one with my picture on.

Which would you choose?

Old business cards
New business cards