Ah, thank you Mr and Mrs Chip. Monet would be so proud.
Think think think blink think think think sniff
think think think cough think think think make cuppa
think think think blink think think think staaaaare
think think think make another cuppa
sip sip sip frown sip sip sip cough
sip sip sip blink sip sip sip panic
panic panic panic loo
panic panic panic loo
panic panic panic loo
Well gimme a Mac and call me monkey, this bird simply can’t resist mocking up an idea or two. Hope you like.
You’ve set up your own business, you’ve identified your markets and you’re ready to reap the rewards. The next challenge is to tell potential customers about what you do and get them buying or using your service.
To make sure this happens, you might think about producing some sales tools – leaflets, brochures, adverts, a website, a blog, a Facebook page, or maybe even sales letters. After all, they’re all a great way to tell people about your offer and generate sales. So who do you go to for help with your marketing bits and bobs?
Your first thought might be a designer or a printer – someone who knows how to make things look good and produce them professionally. But what about the most important part of your brochure, leaflet or website… the words?
Let me share a little known fact that designers will lynch me for: it’s the words that will sell your business and make potential customers choose you. Not the design.
Lots of small businesses choose to get their promotional literature professionally designed and printed. But then write the text (or ‘copy’) themselves. It’s understandable – after all, we can all write. But we can’t all use a Mac to make stuff look sexy.
A word of warning though my good friends; skip the professional copywriter and it could cost you more than you think.
Admittedly, you know your business better than anyone else. But you run the risk of being too close to your subject. Which means you might use jargon that’s only understood by you and others in your industry. And if you confuse your potential customer for even a second, you’ll lose the sale.
Worse still, if you’re not 100% sure how to write text that sells, your ad, leaflet, website or brochure will be little more than a fancy collection of words and pictures. Not the powerful sales tool you need to make prospects drool at the thought of doing business with you.
The bottom line is the most important part of any selling literature is the text. (I can feel the designers breathing down my neck). But I strongly believe, that if you get the messages and how you say them right, customers will flock to you. Get them wrong and they fly into the arms of your competitors.
That’s why you should always call on a professional copywriter (aka copybird) when you’re thinking about setting up a website or Facebook page, or planning a brochure, enewsletter, advertising, door drop or mail shot.
A good copywriter understands what motivates people to take action; what you need to say to make your business leap off the page; and what customers need to hear before they buy a product or service.
Furthermore, they are great strategic thinkers – they have to be, because they’ve been trained to solve complex business problems creatively on a daily basis for huge global brands.
She’s so much more than just a pretty subordinating clause
Invest in a copywriter and he (or she) can help you understand who you should be talking to; what you should be saying; when and where you should be saying it and how it should be said.
Your copywriter also knows how to:
Obviously, money is an important issue when you’re running your own business, but the rewards of hiring the right copywriter can be staggering. It is well known in the advertising world that copywriters can transform businesses and generate HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF POUNDS for their clients.
Amongst my favs are: the freelance copywriter who named the iPod; the legendary copywriter who invented Marlborough Country; the copywriter turned author who came up with the famous strapline ‘naughty but nice’…
…the list is endless (and may get a little boring for you).
Ad agency copywriters are everywhere – and I know how to find a really, really good one
The point is, these ‘writer’ folks can be absolutely imperative for your business. And, luckily for you, they are not solely the reserve of ad agencies anymore – look around and you’ll find a freelance copywriter with bucket-loads of experience ready to help you make your marketing work harder than Pippa Middleton’s booty in ‘that’ dress. (Polite cough).
So before you go ahead and produce your promotional material, think… can you really afford to spend money on a website, flyer, advert or brochure that might not pull in a response?
And if your answer is “no”, then why not put the skills of a highly-experienced copywriter to work for you today.
Funnily enough, I know just the person.
10 idea-generating techniques to smite the terror that is the blank layout pad
It’s 3.00pm. Your feet are up on the desk (skirt or no skirt, you just don’t care; you’re a rebel like that). You’ve been locked in the slightly musty ‘concepting’ room for almost a day now.
Across the desk, your art director looks up nervously from his pad. You cough. He coughs. You go to make tea. You come back. You forgot the sugar, you dimwit. You start over. You serve his tea and sit down again.
‘Got anything yet?’ your buddy asks you as he sips his brew. Do you tell him the truth – do you admit that you think ‘this is it’, this is the one brief you can’t crack? Do you voice the abject terror cartwheeling around your head like Captain Caveman on acid… that your words and ideas have run out of the door and stuck two fingers up at you in your moment of imperative need?
Of course not. Because buried deep down inside that wonderfully imaginative, gin-soaked brain of yours is the memory of a blog post you once read.
The post told you that every single writer worth his or her salt has faced the 50gsm demon that is ‘the blank layout pad’. And although they may have wee-ed a little in horror because the ideas were slow to churn (oh come on, it can’t just be me), they did eventually smite the snorting A3 ‘White Bull’ (as Hemmingway named it) of the layout pad.
Skip, skip, skip through the flowery meadow my creative lovelies and twirl like a dandy.
You see to defeat the beast (does best monster impression), we just have to be prepared. And being prepared, in my mind, means having up your boho sleeve some tricks and tips that the biggest fish in the creative business use to get their engines stoked and their ideas combusting all over the place. Pop, pop, pop.
So here are 10 of my favourite idea-generating techniques that have saved me from myself over the years. They are a bit Flash Gordon (simple), but they do the job, trust me.
May they serve you well – and may your hair always bounce with luster. Because you’re worth it.
Is there an idea in showing what happens with the product? With this technique it’s like showing the ‘after’ without first having shown the ‘before’. It means asking certain questions, like:
– What will happen when someone uses the product?
– What effect will it have on them?
– How will it change things?
Is there an idea in showing what happens without the product?
This technique uses the same route as before but focuses on the ‘before’ without ever showing the ‘after’.
Is there an idea in showing what happens with/without the product in the same ad? With this technique you show ‘before’ and ‘after’ side by side for easy comparison.
Is there an idea in how the product is made? Clients will tend to take their manufacturing processes for granted. But you shouldn’t.
Is there an idea in where the product is made? With this technique you should ask yourself questions like: Is there something in the air? A special property in the water? Or if you can’t find anything unique about where it was made then perhaps you could invent the place it came from… like Marlboro did with ‘Marlboro country’. It’s also worth considering places the product can be shown to its best advantage. So ask yourself questions like:
Where will this product be most useful to the customer?
Where will this product be least likely to work?
Where will it perform at its best?
Where will it be most interesting?
Is there an idea in the product’s history? If you’re stuck for an idea in the present, then go back to the product’s past for a solution. Or if the product doesn’t have a history – invent one.
Is there an idea in the product name or logo? I don’t think this technique needs any explanation… it’s pretty straightforward, you look for an idea solution in the product name or logo.
Is there an idea based on the customer’s motivation? This is quite different from the rest of the techniques above. Instead of using your product as your starting point, you start with the customer and his/or her motivation. With this technique you look at each level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and try to make the product appeal to a particular need.
Is there an idea in the product’s old advertising? Dig into what’s been said about the product before. Do a bit of advertising archaeology. You never know, you might find a Rembrandt in the attic!
Is there an idea in something that’s happening around you? Observation can be a great source of ideas. So open your eyes and ears and notice what’s going on around you. Ideas can come from anywhere.
A bird wrote a poem.
‘7 April 1852 . Went to the Zoo. I said to Him— Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.’
Lesson: If we, as creatives, can replicate this depth of insight and human understanding in 140 characters (or less) for our clients, they will rule the earth. I guarantee it.
It had to be done people. So I did it. Words and pics. Vote with your thumbs at The Chip Shop Awards. If you think it sucks, don’t. Just don’t tell me to my face. I hate public displays of emotion.
Copywriter, huh? Thought so. It’s the look in your eye, see. I’ve seen that look a hundred times before my friend. Right there, behind that ‘I’m-a-writer-don’t-you-know’ sparkle, there’s fear. No use denying it son, it is what it is.
You’ve clocked the rumors. You’ve heard the whispers, “No-one reads copy anymore.” And you’re starting to think they’re right, haven’t you?
“What if they don’t?” I hear you whimper. “What if visual is everything?”
“What if the days of ‘copy’ are dead? After all, brands ‘crowd-source’ here, then they ‘consumer-generate’ there”.
Most of the ads you pass feature only a word or two. No one even knows what ‘copywriting’ means – even your mother thinks you work in law.
You start to shake. Sweat pours from your brow and you reach for the gin. (Or perhaps that’s just me.)
Are you a dead copy man? Are you like that big guy in the Green Mile? Will Tom Hanks be so kind to you as the account handlers come to march you to your doom?
In a word, ‘no’. Copywriters aren’t dead. And Tom Hanks doesn’t give a monkeys. Sorry, he doesn’t.
Tom Hanks may not care, but brands do
The great news, the best news is; copywriters are now more important than they’ve ever been. Their role hasn’t shriveled thanks to the dawn of the one-word ad. It’s expanded beyond what we ever imagined.
In fact, my gorgeous copywriting hombre, copywriters have in their hands right now one of the fattest creative opportunities they’ve ever had.
Teressa Iezzi, Editor of Advertising Age’s Creativity, calls this new era, ‘the next creative revolution’ in her book The Idea Writers. The copywriting landscape has exploded – because the media landscape is richer than ever before and clever brands know they need to be a multi-platform part of it to connect with their promiscuous customers.
Which means copywriters are no longer tied to the medium of print or TV or just churners of copy chunks. Woo hoo!
Copywriters today go beyond words
Today, good sir or madam, you can puff out your chest with pride, because the copywriter of 2013 is an inventor. And their job is to invent ideas that build brands, in whatever form and whatever medium is the best for that client at that particular time. The copy then follows, or doesn’t (if it’s a one-word ad).
Feel the freedom baby, turn your face to the sweet, sweet breeze of media-neutral thinking and take a deep, deep breath.
Tomorrow you may be called upon to spark a conversation with an attitude-laden Emo, wake up a 50 Shades of Bored housewife with 140 characters, invent an app that’ll keep kids quiet on long car journeys, or name an epoch-defining product. (The iPod was named by freelance writer Vinnie Chieco you know.)
You’re a storyteller. A scriptwriter. A conversationalist. A commentator. A techy. An executor. A curator. A lover, not a fighter (again this could just be me).
So you see, forget those who make myopic comments like ‘no-one reads copy anymore’ or ‘the copywriter is toast’. Because the copywriter is not an overdone bread product.
But perhaps the label we give ourselves, ‘copywriter’, is.
Freelance ‘ideas writer’ and all round good egg.
Should we call ourselves copywriters in today’s world?
If we were to ‘rebrand’ what would we be called?