Tuesday, October 17, 2017

5 Elements of Great Copywriting

What do copywriters do when not sparring with art directors or contemplating some existential crisis over a demitasse of espresso/glass of wine/tumbler of absinthe?

Those who are experiencing any sort of success as copywriters are doing at least some, if not all, of the following things:

1. Drawing You in with a Story

A story fascinates. And provided it’s not an epic tome, it can be a powerful tool.

Way back when Apple was developing their earphones for the iPhone 5, they shared this story:

Apple engineers asked more than 600 people to test over 100 iterations of the Apple EarPods. Testers ran on treadmills in extreme heat and extreme cold. They performed various cardio workouts. They were even asked to shake their heads side to side, up and down. The result: Apple EarPods provide stronger protection from sweat and water, and they’re remarkably stable in the ear. Which means they stay in, even when you’re on the go.

Such a heartwarming tale. 

Maybe not. But it does provide a solid visual. You could just see the sweaty testers in the gym shaking their heads to test the stability of the earphones. 

And then you imagined that one guy on the treadmill in the red shirt who got annoyed when one of the ear buds from the
blonde woman on the neighboring treadmill nailed him directly in the left eye - but who later did a graceful jump off the bench press when Apple at last succeeded in their venture and a rainbow of balloons fell from the ceiling.

That might be a little specific. 

But the point is, you did picture something. And next time you’re looking for ear pods, you’ll remember that graceful jump. Or the balloons. Or whatever.

2. Tilting Your Perspective

Every story has a whole slew of angles. All the copywriter has to do is find the one that resonates with the audience. It takes some detective work sometimes, but it’s totally do-able.

Yet, there’s such a wealth of blah blah blah in advertising and marketing messages that we’ve become terribly adept at blocking out the vast majority of them. So why does this happen so much?

Well, either A) the copywriter rolled his/her eyes, took the target head on and didn’t bother to ask, “why does it matter?” or B) the copywriter took the time to write a stunning piece that broke down the reader’s guard with an unexpected edgy approach, which the client immediately vetoed because s/he “didn’t get it.” 

Okay. So it’s not really that cut and dry.

The true answer probably lies somewhere on the spectrum between those two options. But the copywriter’s primary job is to find the larger story behind the message. Making the client to get it is something else altogether. 

3. Listening

Quiz time! Do you think this business will be successful? (It’s another gym analogy.) 

A family is gearing up to launch a gym in an area already saturated with gyms. And these are gyms have classes, smoothie bars, personal trainers, specialty spas and Olympic sized fountain-of-youth swimming pools. These gyms get a workout just going head-to-head with one another in this seriously competitive industry. How is the family going to compete? 

By not offering ANY of those amenities.

Seem like a solid plan? If you said no, you’re wrong. It’s rock solid. And we’re going to tell you why. Mostly because we unfairly left out one really important aspect of the story:

The family took the time to grasp an understanding of its core audience. 

Before launching its new gym, they listened to their primary market of gym-goers. Yeah, people liked the luxury gyms and especially Dirk, the message therapist. But they didn’t like the expensive rates and complicated contracts. 

So the family decided to simplify. They found a large target audience in those who wanted to go to the gym to, well… workout. You know. Get in. Get out. Call it a day.

And the copy in both its launch campaign and across its marketing materials reflected that sentiment. 

What are we trying to say here? 

We’ll let Copyblogger's Robert Bruce break it down for you: 

"Humble yourself and truly serve your audience, listen to their needs and desires, listen to the language they use. If you listen carefully, your audience can eventually give you everything you need, including much of your copy. Get out of their way.”

And by all means, get out of your own way.

4. Persuading You with Problems

What are the features and specifications of a product or service? You can spew them out as a string of cold, hard facts - a particularly effective tactic if you’re conducting a sleep study.

Another option?

Keep readers engaged by presenting features as solutions to their problems. For example:

“Another brilliant feature of the Cute  Raccoon Sweater? It’s reversible to a Squirrel Sweater. That means you need only pack one rodent-themed sweater for that weekend away!”

Sure. It might not be a big problem. Or even real one. Because honestly, who packs two rodent-themed sweaters for a weekend getaway?

So try this one on for size instead: 

“New noise-canceling technology on the transistor radio reduces background noise. So when you hold it up to your ear in a loud room, you’ll hear what matters most - music and news from the 1960s.”

You get the point. 

5. Promoting Readability

And the way it does this is with short and broken sentences
that would make your high-school English teacher cringe. It’s grammatical anarchy.

But so be it.

See? We started that last sentence with But. And we just started this one with And. Both of which are red-pen worthy offenses in high school.

But we’re not talking about high school. We’re talking about 
sales copy. And it should be succinct and easy to read.

You might be saying, “But you said to tell a story earlier. And that requires, like, full-on sentences.” We’re still standing by that. When it has a purpose. If it isn’t going to make the ad memorable, forget it. Why bog readers down with unnecessary content?

These days, people are busy. They’re moving fast. On the go. 

Short sentences are much easier and more enjoyable to read than long sentences that lack spirit and personality. In fact, we might have JUST lost you at “short sentences.”  

Plus, short sentences have rhythm. 

Bringing it back around to Apple, they’re big fans of one-word sentences:

“All-new Lightning connector. Smaller. Smarter. Durable. Reversible.”

Hear the staccato rhythm? There is nothing toe-tapping about the grammatically correct version -  All-new Lightning connector: smaller, smarter, durable, and reversible. (It just slithered off a cliff.)

Rule of thumb for copywriters - keep copy under 12 words per sentence on average.

Short and sweet, y’all.

So Now You Know

The life of a copywriter is not all glitter, glamour and lime light. Clearly it’s none of those things. Because, let’s be honest, writing sales copy isn’t making great strides in making the world a better place. 

But if it’s good enough, it might just stick in someone’s head long enough to make the sale. And for clients, that’s what matters.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Question of the Week: Why Are My Customers Not Staying Engaged?

Ever been in a floundering relationship where your partner eventually ends it by saying, “It’s not you, it’s me.”? 

Well, this isn’t like that. At all. This time it IS you.

You and your customers are in a relationship. Yeah, it might be one-sided in terms of the customers ALWAYS getting what they want, when they want it, where they want it and how they want it. In a personal relationship, this dynamic would send you to a therapist. Or divorce court. 

But this is how the business-customer relationship thrives. 

Providing Great Customer Service Is Not Optional

It’s become a pre-requisite for doing business. So if your customers aren’t sending you flowers or writing you love songs any more, you need to focus on optimizing your customer service.

Establishing a superior brand experience is awesome. But it doesn’t end once you get the customers. The “superior” component of the experience also means keeping them. And like most relationships, it takes work. It’s worth it though. Emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend a product and be a repeat buyer.

So where do you begin?

Remember that customer engagement is about relating with your customers as fellow members of the human race. (At least, most of them.) So start by looking at your actions.

Certain Behaviors Could Be Affecting Your Customer Engagement

Think about times you’ve been poorly treated by a company. Did you find yourself thinking, “I would never treat a customer that way.” 

Of course you wouldn’t. Not consciously. But turn the mirror back on yourself and take a look at where you might be stumbling. 

Here are five ways businesses consistently lose customer engagement.

1. Talking At Customers

Your customers don’t want a constant “But wait, there’s more!” sales pitch. And if you’re forever engaged with the hard sell, that’s what you’re giving them. 

Rather than talk at them, talk TO them. 

2. Insufficient Explanation

If you are merely supplying a product or service to your customer, then wiping your hands clean and loudly announcing, “My work is DONE here!” then cut it out.

Aside from being needlessly dramatic, it’s also not cool to assume that just providing a product or service is sufficient. Customers have spent their hard-earned cash and want to know how to get the best out of your product or service.

3. Not Engaging Past Initial Sale

It’s called the Wham, Bam, Thank You, Ma’am (or Sir) Principle. Okay, it’s not. But it doesn’t matter because nobody likes it.

4. TMI

Too much information. You know what happens when you bombard your customers with untimely and irrelevant information? You give them carte blanche to actively ignore you.

5. Keeping Secrets

The absolute best way to eliminate any possibility of building long-term trust is to keep secrets from your customers. Transparency is the name of the game.  

Do any of these behaviors sound familiar? If your friends or colleagues treated you this way, would you stick around? Why should your customer?

Here’s the nitty gritty: 

There Must Be Consistent Conversation to Keep Customers Engaged

And not the chirpy “Thank you for being a (some dark empire corporation) customer! We appreciate your business,” variety. That’s just lip service. And customers know when they’re being… serviced.

Consider the customer journey as one of frequent interactions. Whether they’re dealing with a service rep, a tech person or you personally, the level of satisfaction across the board must be consistent.

Getting a feel for when and how to best interact can be a challenge though. Let alone how to do it at scale. So you may want to consider a personalization engine. This software has the ability to trigger action based on a customer’s behavior and then learn from their interaction.

And finally, ask yourself this. Are your employees happy?

Happy Employees Go A Long Way Toward Having Satisfied Customers

Treat your employees well. Those who are highly productive, motivated and passionate will represent your company in a positive light. After all, they’re the ones who drive the customer experience. You’d be well advised to know who’s at the wheel.

And if all of the work involved in keeping customer engagement feels like too much these days, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Question of the Week: Should I Be Doing More Aggressive Advertising on My Website?


It might surprise you that we’re taking this stance. 

As advertising and marketing folks, you may have assumed we would jump up and belt out an affirmation that would rival even the most enthusiastic Gospel Church congregant. 

More aggressive advertising!? Well, hallelujah!  

But no. Why not? 

Because most of the aggressive marketing tactics that have been birthed in the past few years are a tremendous drag. And unless your goal is to deter traffic, you’ll want to avoid putting them on your website.

Such Aggressive Marketing Tactics Do More To Drive People Away

Honestly. And if there are users who enjoy visiting your site on a regular basis, how do you think they’ll respond to your adding aggressive marketing ploys?

A. They’ll really LOVE being bombarded. 
B. They’ll maybe tolerate being bombarded.
C. They’ll put a curse on the next three generations of your family.

If you circled A, you need to take off the rose-colored glasses. If you circled B, you’re at least a little more realistic. A little. If you circled C, your visitors might need some help with anger management, but are actually justified in their response. Because here’s the thing:   

Aggressive Advertising These Days Is Really Annoying

Let’s explore some of the particularly irritating tactics.

1. The Autoplay Video

Do you remember the first time you experienced one of these? It probably wasn’t as monumental in your memory as hearing about  something REALLY important - like the new caramel M&M’s. 

But if you were at work or in a quiet library, you were probably confused when a video was suddenly playing on your screen - sound included. And then everyone gave you the stink-eye. 

2. The Chock Full o’ Ads and Graphics Page

If you're a big fan of visiting a page that takes forever to load, and then revel in dealing with text that keeps jumping around while some new file loads and keeps rearranging the page, then this one is for you! 

The rest of us, i.e. the vast majority of the population, will take a pass. 

3. Slides

Taking a well-crafted article and breaking it into countless slides - purely in the interest of getting more clicks - is such an obvious tactic.  Particularly when there’s a banner ad on each slide and you have to scroll through to find the “Next” button. Forget that noise. 

4. Popups

Come on. 

One is bad enough. But more than one should be filed under Crimes Against Humanity. 

And Then There’s Passive-Aggressive Marketing

This involves the tactic of making you an offer, and then giving you the choice of “Yes” or “No,” except that the No part is followed by some absurd statement like:

  • No, I don’t like saving money.
  • No, I’d rather lose out on your wisdom.
  • No, I really enjoy sticking pencils into my eyes.

And more often than not, the offer is to be on their emailing list - which they seem to liken to being shortlisted for the Nobel Prize. It’s a weak form of psychological warfare, and it’s pretty insulting. 

So if your website isn’t as effective in soliciting sales as you want it to be, don’t drive people away with aggressive marketing tactics. That’s just plain counterproductive.

Is it underperforming because it’s out of date? Could it stand to be redesigned and rewritten with an SEO strategy in mind? That’s a much more logical place to start…

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

6 Reasons to Have Your Own Business Podcast

The world is in desperate need of another podcast.

Okay. That may not be true. 

But if a business podcast is something that will provide opportunities for you, your customers and your business, why scoff at the idea of having one? Could be you just enjoy scoffing.

But here’s the deal.

Podcasting Is A Pretty Cool Idea

At least, we think it is. But is it a pretty cool idea for you? THAT’S the big question.

So before you dive headlong into creating a podcast, you need to strategize a little. And by strategize, we mean you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Why do you want to podcast?
  • Do you have an understanding of your audience?
  • Can you give your audience what they want?
  • Do you have the time and resources to do this?
  • Are you able to set up a process to streamline these efforts?
  • Do you like movies about gladiators?

Obviously, we’re joking about the last one. Your opinion on gladiator movies has no bearing on your decision to start a podcast. Nor should it. (Unless you’re the world’s foremost authority on and purveyor of gladiator movies.) 

But establishing a vision of where you want your business podcast to go and what you’d like to get out of it is crucial. 

So if you’ve considered a business podcast and have solid answers to the above questions, you’re ready to roll. Go away and have at it.

But for those of you still in apprehensive scoff mode, we’ve got this for you:

6 Awesome Reasons to Have A Business Podcast

Ready to have your mind blown? 

If not, then you’ll instead want to read on to learn the myriad reasons to start a podcast.  

1. Getting Started Isn’t All That Hard 

Truly. It isn’t. There are three basic items you’ll need.

First you need a microphone. You don’t want the cheapest
model, but it doesn’t have to be high tech either. It just has to work. 

Second, you need a way to record - whether it’s yourself, a conversation/interview with guests, or your Uncle Larry’s singing goats - the last of which we highly discourage.

And finally you’ll need a way to share content with your business podcast audience. Once all of that’s in place, then you’ve got all the “things” you need. 

There are numerous tools to help you along with post production, podcast hosting, transcripts and the sort. You’ll find them on the magical interweb. 

2. A Business Podcast Can Increase Traffic to Your Website

Well, how in the world does is do that?

1. The audio portion of your podcast - and lack of singing
goats - builds your credibility as an authority on your topic so people want to visit your website to learn more. 

2. Ideally, your business podcast comes with show notes and if people are on your site reviewing those notes, they’re more likely to visit other areas of your site too.

That’s how.

3. It Is Great for Networking and Building Referrals

Picture it.

You’re interviewing fascinating people on your podcast. Soon they’re reaching out to you to be a guest on theirs. Before you know it, you’re all over the place. You are what the proverbial hubbub is all about. 

And increased visibility means more connections and more referrals. Simple as that.  

Plus, regularly contributing to your business podcast refines your public speaking skills, which gets you speaking gigs, which further establishes your credibility, which makes you interesting. Don’t you want to be interesting?

4. You’ll Establish An Emotional Connection with Your Audience

Simply hearing your voice on a regular basis gives your audience the sense that they know you; allowing for a deeper relationship to develop. 

With this deeper relationship comes trust and an emotional connection that makes them want to follow your brand and buy from you - all achieved with neither the holding of hands nor the singing of Kumbaya. 

5. Podcasting Is Long-Form Content That People WANT

When it comes to reading, people want shorter bits of information such as are found in videos and blog posts.

But people engaged with your business podcast know
they’re in it for the long haul. And that’s cool because they can listen while sitting in traffic, going for a walk or knitting hamster jackets to sell on their unique new e-commerce website.

What that means for you is a larger platform to showcase your knowledge and expertise.

6. You Can Then Repurpose That Content

Since this one is so deeply linked to number five, it should probably be 5 1/2. But then we’d have to change the title of this post.

Anyhow, since podcasting is audio-based, you can take all of that long form content and repurpose it into other forms of content like a video or a blog post. Maybe even a whole blog post series! And all without pulling out your hair or reinventing the wheel to come up with new ideas.

Thus, A Business Podcast Can Be A Sound Marketing Strategy

If you’re now feeling more inclined toward doing a business podcast, you can always seek out the counsel of experts in marketing strategy to help you.

Who knows. You may soon be part of the jet-setter podcasting elite. And we can say we knew you when…

Monday, October 2, 2017

Question of the Week: What Is Emoji-Based Targeting?

People love emojis. 😃

Okay. Not enough to warrant the making of The Emoji Movie - which eked out a dismal 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A 😢state of affairs, to be sure.

Hollywood aside, one internet platform has a deep affinity for them though.

In 2016, Twitter Introduced Emoji-Based Targeting

According to Twitter, people have pasted more than 110 billion emojis into tweets since 2014.

So Twitter now lets brands target ads based on the emojis that people use in their tweets. The brands need only to buy their Twitter ads through AdParlor, Amobee, HYFN, Perion, SocialCode or 4C.

So how does it work?

Let’s say you tweet, retweet, like or reply to a tweet with a 🏀, for instance. You might soon start seeing ads for basketball shoes, sports equipment or tickets to the next game. A 🎸 would prompt ads for music stores or guitar lessons. And the frequent occurrence of 🍟is likely to spur ads for McDonald’s, Burger King, or possibly the nearest center for cardiology. 

It might seem weird at first. But think about it. 

Emojis Are Essentially Visual Keywords

Unless you are severely pathological and reading this from prison, you likely know what emotions are connected with😍😜😤😭,  as well as all of the other faces. Any one of them used with great frequency will be a neon arrow for brands looking to elicit or appease a specific emotion. 

It makes sense. 

Brands promoting wellness might target someone who continually uses 🤒 in order to promote their “get better” product in much the same way that a manufacturer of golf clubs would be drawn to someone who continually uses🏌. The first example is bit more abstract, but you get the point.

Here’s another important point:

Brands Can Only Target One Emoji At A Time

So if, for example, you are prone to using picturesque tweets like 👁😡 🍔 (I hate hamburgers) or 👁✡️🎳(I am a Jewish bowler), you will not start receiving ads for anger management groups, bowling alleys or, in both cases, opticians. The branding applies only to the single use of an emoji.

Yeah, it’s kind of a bummer. Especially if you’re looking for anti-hamburger establishments or Jewish bowling leagues. 

But it will probably prompt you to think twice about using 💩 by itself anymore on Twitter. And to ponder instead with what it will be well-paired.

If you come up with the perfect solution, let us know