Tag Archives | marketing

Why this flying cow is particularly interesting.

Flying cow 1This leaflet fell out of my local paper a few years ago. I kept it to use when I run training courses. I ask delegates to analyse what’s good (and bad) about it.

Why did I choose this particular leaflet?

Because you can practically see the brief in its execution. Imagine the conversation in the agency:

“What’s the product?”

“Milk from the Co-op that only has 1% fat.”

“OK, low fat milk. That means light milk. Where does milk come from? Cows. That means light cows. How about a flying cow?”

So the illustrator draws a cow with a propeller on its head…

So the copywriter writes a headline: “A flying cow! Whatever next?”… Continue Reading →


Top down v bottom up

mountaineerThere’s top-down communication and bottom-up communication.

Top-down communication is when the company talks to the people. “HELLOOO. We are the company. We sell this, this and this. We want you to buy some. Here’s our phone number. BUY SOMETHING NOOOW!!!”

Bottom-up communication is when the people talk to the company. “Hello, company. I’d like to buy something. Please will you show me where it is, tell me how much it costs, and reassure me that I’m making the right decision. Thank you.”

The people have the money in their pockets that you want. But, today, the people have the power. There’s a trend called social proof and another one called citizen journalism. Continue Reading →


Why your business needs a copywriter

breakfastNo such thing as a free breakfast? I beg to differ. I was unexpectedly granted a free breakfast at a B&B recently, in return for a most enjoyable conversation about marketing.

Paul, the owner, is about 30 years younger than any other B&B business-owner in town and reflects that in the way he promotes his service. For example, his business card shows him spreadeagled over a gatefold, he’s unusually active on social media and his guest-house proclaims itself “Manchester’s best-kept secret”.

I was staying there to attend the annual Professional Speaking Association convention at nearby Old Trafford. During a break, I got chatting with another fascinating self-marketer, The Castle Man.

Roger Masterson is the figurehead of Celtic Castles, allowing you to stay in any one of 93 historic castles in the UK and France. His business card is thick (like castle walls) with a cut edge (like castle ramparts) and shows him sitting in a grand library, reading.

Both these business-owners are doing something different to promote themselves — just what I recommend to my clients. In our conversations, Paul was interested to know what’s new in marketing, while Roger quizzed me about the business value of copywriting.

You too may be asking yourself what a copywriter can do for your business. After all, you learned how to write when you went to school, didn’t you?

As you may know, “copy” is any text that is sent to print or uploaded online. The difference between writing copy and “normal” writing is that copywriting is the art of writing to persuade, writing to influence, writing to change behaviour.

There are a number of marketing and psychological tips, tricks and techniques required to make this happen. The average person probably doesn’t know them (and why should they?) — but, hopefully, your copywriter does.

As a professional copywriter for more than 30 years, the first thing I often have to do is work with my clients on their marketing strategy. I help them pinpoint what they’re selling, who they’re selling it to, who their competitors may be and — most importantly — why their customers should choose them. I use this information to express their unique brand personality and offering, and to help them stand out from the rest in a way their target market will respond to.

Here are just three common copywriting skills to be aware of:

• The headline accounts for up to 90% of the results of any marketing communication, so a copywriter has the ability to identify and encapsulate your key messages in a few eye-catching words that will tempt readers to read on.

• Your copywriter should extract your “most wanted response” and wrap it up in a compelling call-to-action that will prompt people to do what you want them to do — whether that is click a button, subscribe to something or download a document.

• If it’s web copywriting you’re after, an SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) copywriter should know how to weave keywords seamlessly into the copy to make your site attractive to search engines as well as human visitors.

In short, a copywriter will make your words work harder for you.With that in mind, ask yourself how many extra clients you would need to pay the very reasonable fee that your copywriter charges for their expertise. Answer: good copywriting pays for itself. Nudge, nudge, hint, hint!

Case studies

An image consultant had paid thousands to have her website redesigned, and wrote all the copy herself. Despite getting 200 hits per week through Google Adwords and Pay Per Click campaigns, she had no enquiries for two months. I rewrote some key pages, recommended some design changes, and she received six enquiries in the first week including a great corporate opportunity.

A painter/decorator used to get 50% take-up of his quotes. I re-wrote his covering letter to ‘sell’ his service more clearly. Uptake increased to 70%, so earning him more money at minimal cost.

A mortgage adviser had written his own web copy. Although people were finding his Home page, they were leaving the site in seconds, without clicking through to his sub-pages. He agreed to let me rewrite the Home page as a test. Within a week, Analytics showed his site visitors were clicking through to the next level.

I wrote an e-newsletter sent by a recruitment company. Within 20 minutes, they had a new booking.

An eco-cleaner asked me to write her website so it would be found on a Google search. She told me: “A new client rang me to say: ‘I must congratulate whoever did your copywriting and search engine optimisation. They did a really great job! Whatever cleaning keywords I searched on Google, your site came up, so I decided it was meant to be!’”

This article has also been published on Fresh Business Thinking and Marketing Lens.


10 ways to make your business card work harder for you

Your business card is a miniature representation of you and your brand. As well as including your logo, name, house fonts and colours, it has quite a tough job to do for a small piece of paper.

  1. Remember what your business card is for. Usually, you hand it to someone when you meet them, hoping they will contact you in future. So, the objective is to encourage someone to remember you and make it easy for them to get in touch. The other objective might be to drive traffic to your website where they can find out more.
  2. If YOU are what you sell, then it’s wise to include a photo of yourself. If someone comes away from the meeting with a handful of cards, it helps them to remember who you are.
  3. Given that you want people to contact you, make sure your contact details are easy to read. This means good colour contrast, good choice of font, and good point size. Continue Reading →

Why people love their Apples

iMac boxI’m happily staring at my shiny new iMac. The process of buying and setting it up was a dream. It was delivered in a structured box printed with a beautiful image of the computer that was inside. On opening the box, you find the keyboard and mouse packed neatly in another clean, white package, and a folded white card containing simple instructions which start with a friendly ‘hello’. You simply plug in the machine, wake it up and it works.

instructionsThe whole experience was a pleasure.

I also bought a new printer. For a start, it wasn’t the colour it looked in the photos. The instruction manual comprises 44 pages of what looks like grey toilet paper with text that could have been translated into English via German and Japanese. It’s virtually incomprehensible. For example, it tells you to load paper into drawer 1 but none of the diagrams nor explanations show which drawer is number 1.


Sock it to me, baby!

I’m not the target market, but I’ve recently received another email from TwoSocks.com (click to enlarge the image on the right).

It invites me to pick my ‘personality’ from a choice of eight. That links through to the website where they show me socks to match.

I think this marketing approach is genius, for two reasons. First, because we’re in an age when people WANT to interact on-screen, and second, because it takes the customer as the starting point.

Everybody should be doing it.

For example, I wrote a website for a local recruitment company. They started off with a home page that had five icons with captions, one for each of their main services. Recruitment. Head-hunting. Training. You know the sort of thing. Continue Reading →


Why variety is the spice of life (and what this means for your business)

sweetsI saw an experiment on TV where two bowls of sweets were placed on a table at the entrance to the office, under a sign saying ‘please help yourself’. One bowl contained multi-coloured sweets; the second bowl contained only blue sweets.

It turned out that the bowl of multi-coloured sweets was emptied far sooner than the bowl of blue sweets.

Why? Because people took a big handful of the multi-coloured sweets to make sure they got one of each colour, but only took – I think – an average of three single-colour sweets, because that was enough.

Similarly, people apparently eat about 40% more when they help themselves from a buffet compared with being served a plateful of food.

With this trend in mind, some restaurants are starting to offer three or four mini-cakes as dessert, at a price that is greater than the price of a single dessert.

It seems that:

  • People like choice
  • People like having a little taste of everything
  • People will pay more for a little variety

So how can you use this idea in your marketing?


Carrot or stick?

speed camera signThere is a speed warning sign near my house. If you drive past it faster than 30 mph, it shows the words SLOW DOWN followed by your registration number. It annoys me, because the message is in the wrong order. If they really wanted to catch your attention, it should be the other way round: Name (or number) first, information second.

Another speed awareness sign near where I live shows your speed in red if you are driving over 30mph, and in green if you are driving under 30. However, this assumes everybody understands the colour code: red for bad, green for good. I’m not sure that everybody does. Anyway, it’s too subtle. Drivers are expected to process two bits of information in their brain. One, the speed, two, the meaning of the colour.

These are not speed cameras; just an attempt to make people aware and therefore stop them speeding. There are better ways to achieve that goal. Continue Reading →


How much is that tea-tray in the window?

tea trayImagine you are browsing round Harrods, and see a shiny silver tea-tray for sale at £800.

Now imagine you are browsing round a car boot sale, and see a shiny silver tea-tray for sale at 80p.

It’s the same tea-tray. The only thing that’s changed is the surroundings.

Top tip: Package your products well and you can charge more for them.

When setting your price point, remember that it’s all in the packaging.

But it’s not just what you do; it’s when you do it.

Continue Reading →