Archives for category: Copywriting

You are? Thank goodness for that. But does your website need to say it?

Next time you have 5 minutes to spare, do what I do: play The Professionals. It’s a game entirely of my own devising and not related in any way to the bubble-permed TV show of the 1970s.

This is a game where you trawl the websites of lawyers, accountants, dentists, architects, engineers and anyone else who’s fearsomely qualified, and count the number of times they use the word ‘professional’.

Stating the obvious

Some things we can all just take as read. If you’re a member of the above professions, we know you’re a professional – and saying it doesn’t make it any more real. It’s not as if you’re competing against any amateur lawyers or dentists, is it?

Show not tell

I’m not suggesting we all stop extolling our credentials. It’s just that ‘professionalism’ is as intangible as ‘friendliness’. It’s for others to judge through their experience of knowing you or working with you. Saying “I am friendly” won’t convince anyone you are – although it might convince them to edge just a little bit further away.

It’s the same with professionalism. You show it. Online or in print, your professionalism is demonstrated by your portfolio, your testimonials, your qualifications and case studies. It’s a jigsaw of evidence that creates an image in the mind of the reader – and you can’t subvert that process by simply saying “I am/we are professional.”

So save the space. Banish that word, and let the evidence do the heavy lifting of convincing your clients that you are who you say you are.

After all, you can trust me. I’m a professional writer.

Happy Mike is a Happy – and happy – copywriter. He’s a member of the Professional Copywriters’ Network and the Society of Authors. He writes words that accompany Happy Creative’s smashing designs.

Ernest Hemingway once said his best work was a story he wrote in just six words: ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’, this being the most famous example of breathtaking brevity coupled with brilliant imagery.

In a similar vein, our Creative Director James recently set us our weekly creative challenge.

We were each asked to compose a six-word story and he gave us precisely two minutes to do it. The heat was on!

Some of us stared blankly ahead (clearly attempting to assemble our thoughts into some kind of cohesiveness.) whilst others immediately moved their pens hurriedly across the page.

Oh no, someone had already written two…..what to do? I know, write what you know, something familiar. Think! Aha! Got it!

I had recently had an “escape of water” at home (….. in other words….a flood) so my story went something like this: “Broken toilet. Water everywhere. Crossed legs!”

I particularly liked Hakim’s humorous example: “Venison is deer, isn’t it?”

It was a really fun exercise to carry out and we look forward to being stimulated by the next creative challenge which, knowing James, will be brilliant!

Contemporary authors have been challenged similarly by the six-word story format, though there are also a series of books featuring both famous and obscure writers.

Here is a selection of some of my favourites:

See that shadow? (It’s not yours.)
Jim Crace

Humorous book: critic died laughing. Sued.
Alexander McCall Smith

Megan’s baby: John’s surname, Jim’s eyes.
Simon Armitage

In the end, everything simply began.
Ali Smith

It was a dark, stormy… aaaaargggh!
John Lanchester

Drinking alone, curtains drawn… he smiled.
“I’m a writer.” He lied easily.
His bald spot stole the show.
Iain Murdoch

I wrote it all down somewhere.

Found true love. Married someone else.

Met online; love before first sight.

According to Facebook, we broke up.

If we are to subscribe to the concept that “in advertising, it’s not so much what information your words communicate to the prospect, but what experiences they call forth from the prospect”.

What images and associations does your copy bring to life in the imagination? And how many words does it take to create these images? Can you condense your core message into a power-packed six words?

Have a go………. it’s a really interesting exercise.

Debbie Lewis is a Customer Support Executive at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

No matter how you choose to communicate with your audience, the chances are that you are looking to effect change: sell something, advertise your brand, promote a new product. When we are looking to sell something to someone using the written word, it’s important to understand the reader and their needs. By focusing on them and using the correct choice of words, you can help bridge the communication gap by convincing the reader/buyer to consider your brand/product first. Using words that sell, words that pique people’s interest, make them use their imagination and turn the ordinary into something worth paying money for. Grabbing and retaining their attention with a message aimed squarely at them is far more powerful than merely displaying your current promotion or product.

A personal example of this is that my house is currently for sale with a local company. Yesterday I received a letter from a rival estate agency stating that they had noticed that my house was on the market and that they had recently sold a house on the same street. Normally I would throw this type of correspondence away. The targeted message worked though because I can see what the benefits of using them would be and I am considering changing to this particular agency.

The choice of words you make is important to convey the meaning you intend. Most readers prefer specific, concrete and powerful words. But that’s not always what they get. So, can the power of words alone actually make a difference in your marketing? Can someone be persuaded to buy from you using nothing but the written word? How can you use words that sell? Well, certain words and their positioning can and do make individuals act.

For example, the whole idea in headline copywriting is to get the reader to act. The headline should generate interest and prompt the reader into some sort of action. Consider the emotion you want to tap into or the psychological impact. Think about how you want the reader to “feel” and use words that are appropriate.

Words that sell are especially powerful in headlines and subheadings as these are the elements of copywriting that nearly every reader will see. One well-placed power word could be the difference between marketing being read or ignored.

Factual and grammatical accuracy, rhythm and clarity of ideas are all important but to write copy that generates a reaction, you must dig into the emotional and psychological impact of the words used. You don’t necessarily have to use complicated words either in order to be innovative, creative and persuasive.

I discovered recently that, apparently, “cellar door” has been referred to as the most wonderfully sounding English phrase, a phrase made up of quite some common words but it is the sounding of these two words together that make it so special.

Like some of the world’s most famous slogans, also made up of some very simple words. It is the way they are arranged in the phrase that makes them so special. These words can act as subliminal messages tapping into your subconscious, thus making you recognize the product immediately.

At Happy, during our “Happy storms” we have frequently experienced that magical moment when a brilliant headline or campaign concept suddenly breaks through, seemingly out of nowhere and proclaims itself as the obvious choice. Everyone in the room becomes instantaneously excited and there’s a real sense of enthusiastic affirmation. “Brilliant! That’s it! That’s what we’ve been looking for.” We know that wonderful feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes from witnessing the reactions of a thrilled client or seeing the results of our creativity in print or on screen for the first time. “Wow! We created that incredibly clever campaign concept!”

Director, Seth Gardner of “Purplefeather” produced this brilliant video that showcases the power of words to move people to action. The original intention was “to illustrate the power of words to radically change a message and its effect upon the world. I’m sure that you will agree it is an extremely clever piece of marketing.

Debbie Lewis is a Customer Support Executive at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

 

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