Monday, 9 January 2012

A B2C cup of tea

Sometimes, when I meet people they offer me a cup of tea.  It’s simple but it makes me instantly warm to them.  This is odd because I prefer coffee.  

It tells me something personal about them (that they have tea) and the mere fact that they offer it to me lets me know that my happiness is important to them.  No matter what they’re about to say, I’m listening because I want to appease them in return.  I’m not saying I’ll do anything.  But almost.  So am I being tricked?

Well most of the time no.  The other day when Jake, my old flatmate, gave me a cup of tea he was just being friendly.  And the same goes for the endless cups of tea I’ve received from my girlfriend.  But why does the hairdresser always offer me a cup?  

Well, offering a cup of tea is an instantly recognisable friendly gesture in this country.  It’s a useful way to get customers onside.

But how is this related to copywriting?

Well, B2C copy doesn’t always jump straight in with an offer or a product.  Quite often there will be a friendly sentence, or even paragraph, preceding.  This is the readers’ cup of tea – it builds rapport, shows personality and creates a sense of trust.  Copy for ads or virals often follows this strategy, sometimes virtually ignoring the product or service being sold until the end. 

And it’s not just words that help us do this.  Take this recent (and very popular) TV advert for John Lewis for example.  The build up is a series of clips following a child getting more and more excited for Christmas. Then, only at the end do we learn the selling message, ‘for gifts you can’t wait to give’. 

Whilst the Hairdresser’s weapon of mass seduction is a nice cuppa, ours may come in many forms. And it’s a copywiter’s job to think about the overall customer experience when beginning any piece.

Whether we use words on their own or with imagery, we always need to give our customers what they want. A friendly intro won’t sell without benefits, just like a cup of tea is no use without a good haircut.  So whilst we can take our time to get to the big reveal, when we get there the USPs need to be clear.  A confused customer is rarely a happy customer after all.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Girls and boys – what really makes us tick? II

You may remember in one of our earlier blogs Gemma discussed her love for the Boots adverts.  Well I’m going to hold up my end of the deal from our gender specific advert debate and write about what works for me as a man.

The Boots adverts are full of girls and for Gemma (being a girl) this was one of the highest selling points.  Well as it turns out us men are after the same thing!  It may sound clichéd but an advert full of women will generally sell a product to me.

I refrain from using Lynx products in the same way I refrain from doing most sweat inducing sports – and that works for me.  However, if I had a BO problem then I’m sure I’d use Lynx because of their powerful advertising.  And if I did use Lynx then no matter what I looked like or how I acted, women... not women – angels would fall at my feet.

As far as copywriting goes my point here is slightly controversial.  And that is sometimes it’s not innovation you need, sometimes the old gems work.  Lynx aren’t doing anything new (I’m pretty sure marketers have thought of using sex to sell products before…) and yet their adverts work.

That’s not to say don’t try anything new.  But beware formulas can become clichéd for a reason.  Personally I like playing with tested principals to create something new…  Which is why I keep pushing to use my hairy body in a bikini to sell girls deodorant.  But so far no takers.

Monday, 20 June 2011

SEO Copywriter or Content Strategist?

We read a thread on LinkedIn about the role of Copywriter vs Content Strategist which was sparked by this article.  For many people a Copywriter is someone who simply writes engaging copy rather than someone who is involved at a strategic level.

The majority agree that a content strategist is something different…  What that is exactly remains a bit blurry. 

Firstly, lets try to distinguish the role of an online Copywriter?

Based on the comments we’ve been reading it can be anything.  From someone who is given a brief and writes engaging, grammatically correct copy to someone who writes grammatically correct, engaging copy to a brief... Hang on... That’s the same thing.

So are we content strategists then?

We don’t think so.  From The Copywriting People’s point of view an online copywriter is more than just someone who writes copy.  A Copywriter identifies and incorporates key words for SEO purposes.  A Copywriter recognises business goals and marketing objectives. 

Ok.  So what is a Content Strategist in our opinion?  Well… we’re not entirely sure.  But we’re fairly certain it involves numerous space age tools (like the kind we see on CSI) and months spent at the client’s site – all chargeable time of course.

If a Content Strategist does in fact use incomprehensible tools then we’re right and it is the job of the online Copywriter to analyse, strategise and lure the reader.  But CSI and its many tools are fictional.  So if a Content Strategist is only human where does that leave us?  What are we and has our job title changed? 
When working on digital media we work in two ways.  Our clients either give us a list of key words and we incorporate them into the text – traditional copywriter duties.  Or we can go ahead and define which key words should be on each page, incorporate them into the headings, links and text; and ensure a consistent tone of voice across the full marketing suite – which are typical content strategist duties right?  But I think we’ll just call it copywriting…

If anyone can answer our many questions please let us know.  We’re quite clearly going round in circles on this one!

And if we are doing content strategist duties, where are our space age tools?!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Girls and boys – what really makes us tick?

We’ve been discussing adverts that have really grabbed our attention – a topic that provoked much debate.  For example, I thought that the Boots adverts were cleverly put together.  I now wear the most uncomfortably elaborate false eyelashes due to the selling power of these adverts!  Tim on the other hand thought they were terrible – the adverts and the eyelashes. 

A few strong words (and a smashed mug!) later, we realised why we felt so strongly.  The adverts were all gender specific.  Duh!

Sooooo we’ve decided to write a blog series looking at gender specific adverts and why they work.

Here come the girls!

The first advert on my hit list is the afore mentioned Boots advert.  I think it’s great.  From the moment it first graced our screens back in 2007 it has inspired us to tweeze, preen and put on our faces.  Whether we head straight for Boots or we go via a whole range of shops, one thing is for sure – it’s made us girlier!

Never again will we think staining ourselves with Gravy or Tea is an acceptable way to fake tan.  We’ve changed.  The series of ‘here come the girls’ adverts have taken everything we’ve wanted to be and made it possible – ultimate glam!

Why does it appeal?  Our bubbly natures and penchant for singing and dancing of course.  It depicts glamorous looking ‘regular’ girls ready for a good night out.  And that song – such independence.  What’s not to love?

So how does a company use this information to create better brochures, web content etc…

I guess the main thing to remember is your audience.  If you are selling to girls – recognise this in your marketing.

Boots know their main audience.  It’s here come the girls – not here come the girls, their dad and his dog.  Sell to your demographic.  Ignore the boys.  Ignore the kids.  Focus your all on the people who buy from you… the girls!

Gemma x

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Top five tips for copywriting to an audience that doesn’t want to listen…

I said…

Top five tips for copywriting to an audience that doesn’t want to listen!!!

The grammar is technically correct, the language flows and structurally it’s sound.  So why aren’t the calls flooding in? 

No one is reading.

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t want to read about utility pipe manufacture.  Or why one fire alarm is better than another – even when we really do need one!  So it’s important to spend some time making sure your material attracts and keeps the right audience.

Here are our top five ways to reel them in

  1. Before you start writing do your market research.  How old is your target audience?  What are they interested in?  Will they necessarily understand the technical terms of your business?  Once you can answer all the questions, you can start to write effective targeted copy.

  1. Know your competition.  What are you offering that they can’t?   Whether you’ve got a special offer on or you have the biggest sales force in the UK – make sure your audience knows why you’re different. 

  1. State the benefits.  This is the key to keeping an audience interested.  It’s not what you’re doing or how you’re doing it that encourages a reader to pick up the phone.  It’s whether they can get the highest quality or best deal that counts.

  1. Use ‘you’ and ‘your’.  Make it personal.  Let your audience know you’re talking directly to them.  Customers buy from you because they believe your products or services can make a real difference to them.

  1. Always write short and snappy sentences.  Keep it focused. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Twacebook and Fwitter – the marketers dream?

I was reading a blog from a fellow Copywriter… that I found via Twitter…. That I discovered because….. oh it doesn’t matter.  This was the moment I realised my life and business have been engulfed in a world of social networking.
I wondered, as many people do, just what is the point?  I am pretty sure there was a time when businesses managed without social networking websites.  Is Twitter pointless profitless work people feel has to be done to save risk of appearing out of touch?  And what of Facebook – is it not just a vehicle for teenagers to advertise their desired personality and hide their adolescent insecurities? 

In a word… no

There’s a reason why my life has become wrapped up in the joys of social networking.  It’s because I can see the benefits of Twitter for businesses.  With the power of re-tweeting and trending it‘s possible to reach thousands of people, providing I can turn each set of 140 characters into an interesting enough tweet.  And as more people follow @copywritingppl I can literally watch our business grow... and that is addictive. 

Twitter also helps to keep in touch with my competition, hear about new theories and find interesting articles on the latest marketing trends.  Twitter is made for businesses, and is not to be frowned at.

Unlike Twitter though, Facebook isn’t primarily made for the business world.  But it does have over 600 million active users all stating their likes and dislikes.  This makes it the perfect place for targeting a particular audience and reaching more people besides.  Facebook is a marketers dream and perfect for shameless promotion – you can like us here.

As for LinkedIn… well that deserves a whole other blog!

At The Copywriting People we’ve been tweeting and facebooking for a while now, for both clients and ourselves.  We’ve seen the benefits.  Today’s social media can bring added efforts and pressures to a business but it’s not a burden, it’s a blessing.

One thing is for sure though it takes more than a quick tweet to get your name out there.  When you’re busy tweeting and ‘liking’ industry moguls, remember to get some sales letter out there too - and if you need a hand writing them, you know where to find us… in social cyberspace of course!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Doing our bit…. For Riverkids Project

The Copywriting People love to help.  Whether that’s helping an elderly person carry shopping bags up the stairs or giving up our seats on the tube.  And what better way to make a difference than to use our writing skills for a good cause? (yes, we are those people).

This month we’ve been helping Cambodian based charity Riverkids Project.  Gemma first worked with Riverkids Project back in 2007 when she volunteered as an English Teacher.  So it’s really amazing to help them out again.

Riverkids Project was set up in Singapore to help children and families at risk of trafficking in Cambodia.  As well as providing lessons for the children who can’t afford mainstream school, Riverkids also sponsors children through education, supports families seeking work and helps children with their daily hygiene.

We’ve been predominantly helping with their Tweets and, between us, we’re hoping to double @rkproject’s followers in the next 6 months – so if you’re on Twitter, you know what to do… Follow them!