Author Archives: Rewan Tremethick

  • 0
An ice cold coke - perfect at Christmas thanks to clever marketing

Why the Coke advert kickstarts Christmas; lessons on winning your customers’ hearts

Tags : 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

A young boy runs into a church tower. He leaps into the air and grabs the bell rope, yanking it down and setting the bell clanging. The first few notes of the orchestra swell and over the hill we can see through the skeletal threes a convoy of lights winding their way towards us.

The Coke advert is on television, and suddenly my Christmas has started. It’s the same for many people my age.

As much as we may like to scoff at the idea, most of us can think of one or several adverts without which Christmas simply would not be the same. How about the Yellow Pages one, where a young boy needs to use the telephone directory as a stepping stool to kiss a girl under the mistletoe? Or Santa eating a bowl of Kellogg’s cornflakes in front of an awed little girl who has come looking for presents?

Or more recently Monty the Penguin, whose loneliness is finally ended at Christmas when his owner reveals his present for the year: a lady penguin (admittedly this doesn’t sound so heart-warming when you just describe the advert aloud).

But just how is it that some brands can make adverts – essentially the thing that we used to see as being the annoying bit in the middle of our favourite TV shows – which so perfectly encapsulate the spirit of Christmas that we eagerly await seeing them again?

That’s the holy grail of marketing.

The festive case for emotional marketing

What all the classic Christmas adverts do is tap into the magic of Christmas by drilling down to the core of what makes this time of year so endearing. That string of Coca-Cola trucks winding their way towards town is symbolic of the long wait for Christmas itself and the joy to come when it finally arrives.

The fact that the advert is filmed from the point of view of a young boy helps to take us back to childhood, when we were eagerly awaiting the day where we could leap out of bed and rip open our presents.

Getting people into a childlike state works well, as the rose-tinted view of our younger days helps emphasise the positives and reduce the negatives – how many of your favourite childhood things have you been shocked or disappointed to discover are actually not that good when you fondly revisit them as an adult?

The music, the lights, the crowd – it all works to create a feeling of wonder that encapsulates what Christmas is to so many of us.

Rather than the message of the ad being ‘Christmas is great with Coca-Cola’, I think the premis is ‘Christmas is great; so is Coca-Cola’.

Meanwhile, John Lewis’s Monty the Penguin advert perfectly taps into the idea of community and company. For most people, Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends – to share the love around. One of the arguments against the anti-capitalist critique of gift-giving is that it is an opportunity to demonstrate that we care – which can often be hard to do in day-to-day life.

Just like songs such as Lonely This Christmas, Last Christmas or Christmas Wrapping, Monty the Penguin resonates with our desire to be surrounded by the people we love over the festive period.

Emotion is the key

It’s very easy to start sounding like a university professor, or a philosopher, when discussing why adverts have impact. But psychology supports the idea that emotion is a very powerful marketing tool.

It’s well established that emotion accounts for 80% of the buying decision – so how you make your audience feel is the most important part of your imagery, design and of course copy.

Inside the human brain is a constant battle between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex: the former controls are more animalistic and emotive desires and attempts to fulfil needs based upon our survival, while the latter is in charge of rational thinking and more advanced cognition.

While the prefrontal cortex does spend much of its time aiming to rein in the limbic system, once activated certain emotions, drives or desires can be very hard to get rid of. Anyone who has ever opened a packet of chocolate digestives with the goal of ‘just having one’ will understand just how hard it is to rationally overcome a desire.

Which is why it is important that you activate these emotions. If this sounds like its manipulative, it’s not. You cannot create a desire within somebody to do something that is hugely counter to the way they live their life. You can have the most emotive message possible on your posters for black pudding, but you’re not going get vegans flocking through the door just because you’ve tried to pluck at their heartstrings.

Every business should operate under the principle that they have something they know their customer needs, but that their customer may not realise what those benefits are. This is where emotion comes in. You are simply trying to communicate to them in the most effective way that their life can be improved with what you have to offer – this should be what you genuinely believe, if you are in business for the right reasons.

Human beings have just as many irrational brain processes that stop them from doing things that are good for them. That’s why it’s important to make sure this is balanced by positive messages.

Do you have to make your audience cry?

Of course, it’s very easy to say that you need to connect with the audience on an emotional level, but this doesn’t always fit with the kind of business or industry you operate in.

Someone looking to buy pressurised air for use in the manufacturing process is unlikely to be swayed by anthropomorphised Arctic animals, or a pair of young children chasing each other around the house on Christmas Day, using compressed air to blow glitter at each other.

While some adverts do make their audience emotional in an obvious way, emotional marketing does not necessarily mean tugging at the heartstrings. Emotional marketing is about understanding how people feel about a certain product or problem, and targeting your content to strike a chord.

For instance, the Managing Director of that manufacturing company may not want a tearjerker when it comes to being advertised compressed air, but they might be worried by the amount it’s going to cost if they can’t find an alternate supplier. They may be excited by the idea of increased efficiency and therefore greater profits. That they can deal with someone who is friendly and 100% reliable could make them relieved.

These are all feelings as well. And your marketing can resonate with those feelings.

Be empathetic and win new business

So this Christmas, and in the New Year that follows, think about how you can use emotion to engage more deeply with your target audience. 80% of the buying decision is based upon emotion, so to try using only facts or logic to generate sales is to ignore 4/5ths of your potential to engage and convert.

Get on board with emotional marketing and see how it could boost your sales and generate deeper relationships and stronger brand loyalty.

I’ve told you that it can be done – now sign up to my email newsletter for my latest cheat sheet on using emotional marketing to win new business.

Each month you get a new free insight into a marketing technique that can help you run more effective campaigns, write better content, and see more results.

Enter your details below to get your new guide for free.

  • 0
Grammar is a mysterious ritual to some business owners

The dark art of grammar – why it shouldn’t terrify businesses this Hallowe’en

Tags : 

Lots of businesses will soon be advertising promotions themed around ‘Halloween’. That’s in inverted commas because technically it should be spelled ‘Hallowe’en’. It’s an old spelling (16th century, in fact), and rather like words such as ‘thus’ and ‘whom’ (both of which I am a massive fan) can often give audiences exactly the jar you’re trying to avoid when being engaging.

Which is why it’s okay to use the post-18th century spelling of ‘Halloween’. But this raises an interesting question: if everyone’s ignoring the old way of doing things and it’s okay to bend the spelling and grammar rules in this instant, is it okay to do so at other times?

Why good grammar is important for businesses

None of us are able to escape the grammar pedant. If you spotted the flaw in that sentence, there’s a good chance you’re the kind of person people are trying to get away from.

It is true that correct spelling and grammar are important. They not only help you present a professional image to your target audience, but they also help you to communicate your key messages more clearly.

It might seem unfair, but you will be judged on your spelling and grammar. Making mistakes, or writing poorly, comes across as unprofessional. There’s no point arguing that someone selling lawnmowers has no huge incentive to know what a gerund is – people won’t stop to contemplate reasons to let you off the hook.

This is because our brains have evolved to make quick judgements. It used to be a survival skill, but now it just helps us do things such as pick crisps off the shelves in supermarkets by rapidly assessing branding. Such is the way of life.

That first judgement is hard to shake. It’s a lot easier to simply make sure your copy is on point to begin with than to try and change someone’s negative opinion of you – assuming you’re lucky enough to get another chance to win them over.

Following the rules of grammar is also vital if you want to make sure you’re communicating clearly.

The last thing you want is the audience to be reading your copy and trying to figure out what it’s meant to say. The only thing they should be considering is whether your sales messages resonate with them.

Poor phrasing, unusual lexicon, or badly constructed sentences and paragraphs, all work to obscure the meaning of your text; losing you face and business.

When grammar gets in the way

However, there is a line past which proper implementation of grammar can actually do the exact opposite of what it is meant to.

For instance, a grammar pedant will say that the previous sentence should be:

‘However, there is a line past proper implementation of grammar can actually do the exact opposite to that it is meant.’

This is because technically speaking you are not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. This means the following sentences are wrong from a hard-line grammar point of view:

  • ‘Our unique mix of skills makes us the perfect company to do business with.’
  • ‘The reanimated skeleton returned to the crypt where it had come from.’
  • ‘By following my advice you can move your company in the direction you want to go in.’

But saying ‘with which to do business’ seems incredibly old-fashioned. Adhering to the letter to certain grammar rules can make your web copy read like a Victorian novel.

The whole argument for why spelling and grammar are important is that it makes it easier for you to communicate.

If following a certain grammar rule makes your copy harder to read because it is jarring for the audience, then this is not only ironic but also counter-productive.

You need not be haunted by grammar rules

You should always aim to have good spelling and grammar in your copy. There is a difference between saying that people know ‘Halloween’ means ‘Hallowe’en’ and saying that you don’t need commas, or that spelling doesn’t matter.

Don’t be tempted to think that your audience won’t care how you communicate if their own writing style isn’t very well developed. You are the business here – you’re the one who is meant to look professional.

Just as a vampire is blessed with eternal life and cursed with an aversion to daylight and garlic bread, grammar blesses you with clarity and curses you with bureaucracy. If you find yourself poring over ancient tomes of grammatical knowledge when trying to write a sentence, there is a good chance you are getting too obsessed with the intricacies of written language.

Aim for clarity. Always aim to produce high-quality writing from an ideological point of view – don’t allow the idiosyncrasies of your audience to undermine your general ability to write well.

There is a difference between adopting their tone of voice and allowing yourself to make mistakes just because your audience does.

But this October, don’t let grammar be the monster under your bed. That thing going bump in the night? It’s just the discarded apostrophe falling out of the middle of ‘Hallowe’en’.

A creative use of language and framing allowed me to theme this post to make it more topical.

You’ve seen this in action, now learn how to do it yourself. Sign up to my mailing list to get access to my quick cheat sheet on theming your content.

You’ll receive a new set of pointers each month to help you enhance your marketing and boost the effectiveness of your copy. Enter your details below to subscribe.

  • 0

Common copy mistakes that kill readability

Tags : 

Learning to spot a few common mistakes in your copy can help it to become much more effective at engaging your target market and creating a response.

People need to be able to read your copy before they can be inspired, educated, or converted. Copy that isn’t easily digestible for the eyes and brain is a complete waste of space. It’s like buying an expensive sports car without any wheels. All your copy will do is sit on the metaphorical driveway.

Is your copy putting readers off? Here are some of the most common mistakes which kill readability.

You haven’t finished making your point

This is probably the most common error I see on my trawls through the internet. Web copy can sometimes read like the ramblings of an overexcited child:

When you come to us you can expect to get a great level of service no matter what in our showroom we have a range of different products with free delivery… take a rest in our café.

Make sure you start with a premise and end with a conclusion. Reading a sentence with too many points in it is like trying to watch three tennis matches simultaneously. Your target market will get confused, frustrated, and motivated to go somewhere else.

You’ve crammed too much into one sentence

This is often the cause of the point above. While you should aim to get a good mix of sentence lengths in your copy, as a general rule you want to keep them short. You should think very hard if a single sentence runs to more than 25 words:

Usually the problem is simply that you are including too much information, which can be solved (like in this sentence – yes, I’ve done this one deliberately to prove my point) by separating out individual points, of which there are probably several, into their own sentences.

Does one of your sentences take up a whole paragraph? If so, you probably need some full stops in there.

You’ve used too many exclamation marks

On most occasions one exclamation mark counts as too many. Like fake tan or DFS sales they are overused.

An exclamation mark – as the name suggests – is used to mark an exclamation. They are for rare occasions when you say something that merits emphasis. We don’t exclaim everything, do we? People that do tend to get avoided at networking events.

I’m wearing socks! Our showroom is in Truro! Our customers are from all kinds of industries! I sound like a crazy person!

Exclamation marks make a lot of people cringe. Some content agencies even ban their writers from using them, and with good reason. They’ve become so overused that it is hard to include them in your copy. If you really can’t help yourself, try Time’s guide to exclamation mark alternatives (although tread lightly, and ignore #1).

You didn’t read it back aloud

Close up microphone at seminar room.

Once you’ve finished your post, give it a few minutes (at least), a few hours (preferably), or a few days (ideally) to allow you to completely forget it. If you read it back straight away you won’t be able to be as objective. When you do read it back, read it out loud.

Our brains can do amazing things. They can also do stupid ones, such as automatically correcting information from your eyes when it thinks it’s wrong. Which is why you might read ‘He ate donut the’, yet process it as ‘He ate the donut’ without realising the error.

Reading aloud means the information has to go through more checkpoints – from eyes to brain to speech to ears to brain. I think this is why you have more chance of catching those mistakes. It also helps you to gauge the flow of the piece. If you find yourself having an asthma attack, you probably need shorter sentences. Or at least some more commas in there.

You’ve used the passive voice

This one is a little tricky. I don’t go in for explaining the components of a sentence with fancy terms, or reciting grammar rules to people like a policeman reading a suspect the Miranda rights. Passive voice is when the sentence is built around the wrong element. For instance:

You read the book – active voice.

The book was read by you – passive voice.

You can tell this isn’t a good way to express this information without getting bogged down in grammar rules. Nevertheless, Your Dictionary has a ton of useful examples.

Passive voice kills readability. It turns your copy into a sluggish ramble, rather than the irresistible ‘slippery slide’ described by copywriting legend Joe Sugarman. Or, to put it passively: A sluggish ramble, rather than a slippery slide, is what your copy becomes.

How am I meant to know if I’m writing in the passive voice?’ I don’t hear you ask. Simply follow these instructions to enable readability statistics in Microsoft Word. From now on when you run a spellcheck (after correcting all the spelling and grammar mistakes that are highlighted) you’ll see a box that tells you the number of passive sentences in the document.

Better copy, with a pinch of salt

These issues all make it a chore to read your web copy, brochures, or blog posts. You won’t need to worry about whether or not your copy is boring – people won’t get far enough to find out.

It is true that there are exceptions to these rules, so don’t adhere to them verbatim. For instance, there are occasions where passive voice helps you present information in a more logical way. Use these tips as guidelines, and ultimately do whatever feels right.

It’s your responsibility to ensure that everything you write is as slick as an oil spill on a frozen book of Oscar Wilde quotes. If you catch yourself making these mistakes, a little editing can go a long way towards creating copy that doesn’t fall at the first hurdle: getting read.


Let’s all get better results from our marketing. Share this post to help your friends and followers write better copy. Don’t forget to comment and tell me which copy mistakes put you off.

  • 0

Volkswagen’s Adverts Have a Message for Us All

Tags : 

I particularly like the current campaign of Volkswagen television commercials. They feature a range of ordinary people hunting for a bargain, and finding it in a number of inadvisable situations. From budget shark diving to discount parachutes, special offer climbing ropes and cut-price laser eye surgery, the adverts perfectly sum up an old adage which many of us seem to have lost focus on since the recession caused a return to penny scraping attitudes.

You get what you pay for

As someone working in marketing I can attest to the truth behind this statement. Marketing is all about investment: a small investment will yield a small return. It’s not an area you can cut corners in, yet many companies still try.

Over the past few years I’ve encountered many people trying to make money without spending any. I’ve seen businesses wanting thousands of words worth of content per month, yet expecting to pay rates that equate to lower than the minimum wage to the writer unlucky enough to get saddled with the task. I’ve had people suck air in through their teeth at the idea of spending hundreds of pounds on website copy, forgetting the fact that it can be one of the major differences between a bounce and a conversion.

Sometimes it is understandable that people are a little wary with their cash. The recession has caused us all to look for better bargains. Is one of the reasons behind the approach Volkswagen have taken with these new commercials. We do tend to think mostly about price. But there is something far more important that we are overlooking, to our own detriment: value.

What is it worth to you?

The most uncomfortable thing to see is when you come across a company whose product or service price is incredibly high trying to get away with paying minimum rates for copy, design, and marketing. Perhaps it is because – and this applies much more to copy than the other two – they often seen as extras. Copy is the proverbial cherry on the cake, or the engraved message on a new watch. It’s not obligatory or important, it just adds a nice touch.

This is not the case, and when copy is considered as part of the cost of sale you can see how easily it gets paid for by the additional revenue it generates. Copy, rather like footballers, is charged not on what it is, but on the value it brings in. The same with marketing. A sales letter that brings in £10,000 worth of extra business is clearly worth paying £1,000 for. Conversely, a £10 sales letter is unlikely to be written with the skill, attention to detail, or passion to even pay for itself.

In racing terms cutting corners is a good thing. When it comes to marketing, cutting corners is like cutting a square cake into circular portions – you’re going to lose out on a lot of cake.

Which is why the Volkswagen advert is not just about showing how the price of their vehicles is intrinsically linked to the quality, but also about the importance of prioritising value over cost when it comes to our businesses.

How you assess the value of your marketing activities? Do you have a clear idea of what you are getting back from your investment?

  • 0

Why you shouldn’t ask if your copy is too long

Tags : 

Why ‘Is it boring?’ is the real question.

Something tells me you haven't got the sale. Image Source: CNN Money.

Something tells me you haven’t got the sale. Image Source: CNN Money.

Let’s talk about length, and why it’s important. It’s fine if you need to go outside and have a snigger first. The desired length for any given piece of copy is something that everyone from business owners to marketers obsess over.

Take blog posts for instance. Some people will tell you that they need to be kept short and concise in order to hold anyone’s attention in today’s instantaneous online world. Yet others will argue they should be well in excess of 1000 words, in order to be able to include enough information to make them relevant and valuable to the target audience.

But focusing on the length of your copy isn’t going to help you in the long run. Unless your word count is dictated by the physical space it will occupy (for instance on a flyer or brochure), the question to ask should be ‘Is my copy interesting?’

Length does not equal interest

There are some times in which shorter is indeed better: parents’ evenings; wedding ceremonies; root canal operations. But when you’re marketing to somebody your main goal is to persuade them to take action. Not everybody is the same. Some will take more persuading than others.

If you are presenting to potential clients, you stay long enough to answer any questions they have and ensure they have all the information they require. You wouldn’t pack up your laptop and leave as soon as the PowerPoint had ended. Selling isn’t about saying what you want to say, it’s about saying what the prospect wants to hear.

Which is why what you should be worrying about when it comes to your copy is whether or not it’s interesting. Just because you cut 1,000 words down by 50% doesn’t automatically mean your content becomes twice as interesting.Rather frustratingly for anyone looking for a definitive answer, the real rule about copywriting is that it should be as long as it needs to be.

How do I know if my copy is interesting?

Unfortunately this one is mostly down to your customers to decide. You have to trust your intuition, and there are a few basic ways to ensure you have done everything you can to keep it from being boring. Ask yourself:

Have I made points I need to make? If 500 words isn’t enough space in which to convey all the benefits of your product that your target market will want to know about, then cutting yourself off will damage your ability to convert them into customers.

Will the reader have any objections or questions that I have not yet addressed? Your potential customer will come up with many reasons (excuses) not to buy from you. If you do not challenge all of their objections, you are giving them a valid reason not to buy. Your copy should leave them with no doubt in their minds that they need your product.

Have I addressed everything that I raised at the beginning of the copy? Like a good story, copy needs some sort of narrative. If you draw your reader in using a question, statistic, or relatable scenario, you need to make sure you have concluded the points you raised by the end of the copy. Your target market won’t appreciate being drawn in with an interesting anecdote, only to be hit with standard sales copy once you have their attention.

Do the trees outside start quaking in fear as my mouse hovers over the ‘print’ icon? Don’t underestimate the power of editing. If you analyse what you’ve written, identify key points, and think of alternative phrasings, you can usually cut 1,000 words down to 500. It’s a common strategy in post-recession businesses these days (albeit usually applied to staff): make what you have work harder with less.

Too little copy is just as bad as too much. What is important is not how long it is, but how skilfully you can guide the reader from the beginning to the end without them even considering the length. People only complain about things being too long when they fail to hold their interest.

Just like some of the most effective things in marketing, great copywriting is invisible. Do you agree?

  • 0

Why I charge hourly for copywriting services

Tags : 

Copywriting rates can be a bit of a mystery, so I’ve decided to explain how I charge.

If you have a look around my website you will see that I talk about copywriting as an investment. This is because it is. Great copy works hard to create interest, leads, and ultimately sales. Copywriting services are just like any other aspect of marketing – graphic design, PPC, web design, brochures, flyers, et cetera – you put some money in, and you get more money out. When it comes to copywriting, you shouldn’t be thinking about the cost. The results are what matter.

But copywriting rates can confuse people. I thought it would be a good idea to take the time to explain exactly why I charge a copywriting hourly rate, for a service whose worth is measured in ways other than time.

If you click on my fees page, you’ll find it gives you the price very clearly. I’ll admit that when I first started, I bought into the whole idea that I should be vague to encourage inquiries:

“As each project is different it is not possible to give you an idea of price upfront.”

But let’s be honest, it’s annoying isn’t it? Being able to shop around is important. You might just want to know how much copywriting services cost because you have no idea. You want to be able to make a decision, but how easy is it to weigh up the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer when you don’t know how much it will cost you or what you will get?

Copywriting rates for UK businesses

There are three main ways writers can charge for copywriting services; per word, per hour, or per project. There could be some other systems involving runes, or perhaps offers of cake, but the chances are if you choose to hire a copywriter you will end up following one of these payment structures.

Per-project copywriting rates for UK customers reflect the fact that you are paying for a return on investment. Say a website written by copywriter doubles your conversion rate and sees a 50% rise in profits. That’s clearly worth paying quite a bit for. Copywriting which generates tens of thousands of pounds in extra revenue is clearly worth paying several thousand pounds for. If you look at the actual cost, that could seem expensive, but you look at the result, and you realise it’s an offer so good you should bite the freelancer’s hand off.

The problem with charging fees like this is that unless your client is a massive business, this kind of money can still be a lot to cough up. The reality is that while all businesses could benefit from making more money, they simply don’t have the budget to make that kind of investment upfront.

Per-word copywriting rates

On the other end of the scale you have the per-word fee. Straightforward as possible, but is a terrible idea. The problem with paying per-word is you treat copywriting services like a product; as though it is potatoes, or catnip, or barbecue tongs. We’ve already seen above that copy writing has value and cannot be assessed on whether it’s 40 words or 400. And are all words really equal? Should you be paying the same for ‘it’ as for ‘strategic’? Paying per word also completely undermines the fact that the final product you get does not represent the work that has gone into it.

Say you ordered a 500 word blog post. My initial draft might have been 750 words, or even 1,000. So not only is that 500 words that I will not get paid for writing, there is also a huge amount of editing required to meet the word limit that is also not taken into account. Paying per word for copy is like valuing icebergs based on what you can see poking out of the water.

£40 copywriting hourly rate

Which just leaves us with an hourly rate. I find it a very simple and efficient method to work to. Buying into results is great, but it makes that initial investment a little easier if you feel you’re getting something tangible to begin with. For smaller companies and medium-sized businesses it makes sense to be paying for somebody’s time. My copywriting hourly rate of £40 reflects the fact that the copy I create is of a very high quality, whilst also acknowledging that you have budget restraints.

And that’s all there is to it. I chose my pricing model based upon a number of factors, balancing the value of my services with convenience and affordability for my clients. What I ended up with is a highly competitive rate for my copywriting services.

Do let me know how you prefer to pay your freelancers: hourly or per-project? Comment your thoughts.

  • 0

Does your copy say what you think it does?

Tags : 

This woman isn't actually floating on a magic carpet. Perspective is an important thing to remember when writing your web copy, too. Image Source: Buzzfeed.

This woman isn’t actually floating on a magic carpet. Perspective is an important thing to remember when writing your web copy, too. Image Source: Buzzfeed.

We all know that some words can mean more than one thing. What’s worth remembering is that words can also imply something. A phrase can mean different things depending upon where it is seen, what images it accompanies, and even what time it is viewed. Context is important when it comes to considering your word choices for copy.

Connotation is the thing a word signifies, which is not necessarily the same as what it means. A perfect example is when it comes to cakes and calories.

Pudgy puddings

Calories are, when not consumed in moderation, a bad thing. But no food manufacturer is going to want their packaging to admit that their product is bad for you. They legally have to tell you about all the bad bits that go into it, however they’re going to do it in the most positive way possible.

This is why you’ll notice the nutritional information on a lot of cake packaging tells you that a serving ‘provides’ X amount of calories.

Same meaning, different connotation

‘Provides’ is a much better word than ‘contains’ where calories are concerned. ‘Provides’ is a strong, generous word. It suggests you are being given something. Those 10,000 calories in 100g of cake are a gift. This cake is providing for you. It’s looking after you. What a lovely cake, doing all that. It’d probably wash the windows if you asked it to.

A more serious example

The other problem with connotations is that your marketing can be perceived to be giving out a completely different message than it actually intends to. Budweiser are a very pertinent example of this. The company have been the target of a social media storm by releasing bottles of Bud Light with the sloganthe perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night’.

I think the meaning behind this slogan is meant to be that by having a light option, you can still enjoy a drink with your mates. There’s no need to refuse to join in. However, it is painfully obvious, considering the issues surrounding alcohol, consent, and multiple horrific news stories in the past few months, that this slogan comes across as condoning rape culture.

It’s a completely innocent message with a terrible connotation. It’s kind of remarkable that no one in the marketing department managed to pick up on it, really.

Changing a single word can transform your copy

Thinking about the subtle implications of your word-choice can help make otherwise dull copy into something positive and exciting. Read the example on moisturizer for men and women in my post on semantics for another good example.

Have a look at the example for a taxi service below, and you’ll see just how different a message can be by taking the connotations of your word choice into account:

Getting you where you need to go” – focus is on the fact you’ll end up where you need to be: destination, not the journey.

Carrying you where you need to go” – caring. Sounds supportive, tender. Focus is on a good journey.

Driving you where you need to go” – convenience. Focus is on the service being provided.

Bringing you where you need to go” – focus is on the objective. Acknowledges the stages of your journey and the taxi’s role within it.

They all mean more or less the same thing, yet they convey a different message. It is by considering these implications when writing your copy that you can convey your company voice and objectives.

When was the last time you thought about the meaning behind your marketing copy?

  • 0

Semantics – your key to better copy and better SEO

Tags : 

"" by Julo - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.” by JuloOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

We have entered the age of semantic search. In terms of SEO, it is an important step. It makes search more intelligent and more relevant to users.

Semantics is all about meaning. The fact that there are so many different ways of expressing a single thought or question is important. People aren’t always going to use identical search queries, and we don’t all write about topics according to one universal style guide, even if we all follow the same laws of English.

What is Semantic Search?

The advantage of this search development is that Google not only understands what you said, but what you meant. You can see this in action by picking a service and searching for the ‘benefits’ of it. Google will also return articles on the ‘advantages’ of that service, because it knows those two things mean the same thing in this context. This is useful for searchers – because imagine missing out on great pudding recipes because you looked for ‘desserts’.

Those are simplified examples. What semantics allows us to do is focus more on providing quality writing rather than ticking SEO boxes. We no longer have to pack blogs, articles, and web copy full of “meat” – we can talk about “chicken”, “pork”, “bacon”, “beef”, and so on. It makes for a more interesting, more readable piece of writing. We can still optimise our copy, yet in a more subtle way.

Semantics in copywriting

Semantics has always been useful in copywriting. It’s how we prevent our prose from becoming boring. It means we can say something is fantastic, handy, cool, awesome, wonderful, brilliant, great, and so on, instead of just ‘nice’ all the time.

People get bored of seeing the same word several times, and repetition can jar people out of the reading ‘zone’. Repetition is bad. Avoid repetition. Spoils the moment, doesn’t it?

Semantics also helps us to tailor our writing to get the best response from the target audience. Think about how moisturiser for women ‘rejuvenates’ (a soft, caring, feminine sort of word), whereas men’s face cream ‘re-energises’ (an action-packed, masculine sort of word). They both do the same thing – make you more moist than you were originally – it’s just the semantics are different, because men and women want to moisturize for different reasons.

How has semantic search changed your SEO policy?

  • 0

5 simple business blog post ideas when you’re stuck for content

Tags : 


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons User Gabriel VanHelsing

It’s your scheduled blog post day. But you can’t think of a single thing to write. It seems like you’ve used up all your creativity. Perhaps it’s the pressure, perhaps your mind is on other things. No matter how hard you try, no post is forthcoming.

What are you meant to do in that situation? The regular content needs to keep coming, and your following might be waiting patiently. Fear not. Here are five types of post that can be created quickly while still providing something of value to your readers.

Article Share

You probably already refer to other sources in your blog posts. An article share is where you simply point your readers in the direction of something they will find useful. Find an article that says something important about your industry and post the link on your blog along with an introductory paragraph. A five minute job that helps your readers find something new.

Share a laugh

Seen some funny tweets or cartoons that are relevant to your followers? Create a post sharing a few. Write a sentence or two about why you find each one particularly striking and why you shared it. Before you know it, you’ve got a whole blog post. Your followers will like it, because who doesn’t like a little humour about their industry (apart from undertakers)?

Start a debate

People love giving their opinions online. It’s why comment sections on blogs, articles, images and videos exist. Your followers have a lot to say if you give them the chance. Write a short post on a pertinent issue, and state that you want to get a debate going. Ask your readers to comment, or tweet you their thoughts. It can generate a lot of engagement. Not bad for a few minutes’ work.

Revisit an old post

A lot of the time things evolve and new information becomes available. This can make something written just six months ago seem out dated. Or even if it is still relevant, you might have thought of something more to say. In this case, you can use that post as the basis of a new one on the same topic. This is especially effective if you can pick a post that was very popular to begin with, as you can emulate its success.

Ask your followers

There’s nothing wrong with asking your followers what they want to hear about. In fact, there is a lot right with it. Asking them what your next blog should be about creates interest and engagement before it is even written. It gives them a stake in the content, and helps strengthen your relationship with your followers.

This isn’t a cheat sheet of ways to make it look like you’re trying. These are genuine ways of providing useful content that can be used to give value to your readers even when you don’t have the time or inspiration to write an extensive blog post.

You may find some of these are so well received that they become regular features on your blog.

  • 0

Is blogging networking or selling?

Tags : 

HandshakeThere’s a lot of confusion surrounding the humble blog. What is it for? Where does it come from? Why haven’t I got a million followers?

The biggest confusion is often regarding the actual role of a blog. Getting this wrong can result in you developing, writing, and promoting a blog that won’t get you anywhere.

Some treat it like a sales engine, others like a social network. Which is it? The rather frustrating answer, for those looking for a quick fix, is ‘a subtle blend of both’.

Blogging to network

Posting interesting content about your industry, products, or the lifestyle of your customers will attract the kind of people you want to do business with. Advice on where to catch the best waves will draw in an audience of surfers – perfect for retailers of wetsuits.

Over time, more and more people will come to your blog. If you get your content right, you’ll build up a following of the kind of people you want to be doing business with. These people will spill over onto your Twitter and Facebook pages. So in this sense a blog is all about networking.

Blogging as a sales tool

Blogging is about generating leads and building your business. But to think of it as a sales tool is to approach it from the wrong angle. People who approach blogging (and Twitter, Facebook, etc) from the point of view of making sales are usually the ones doing it wrong.

Think about it this way – if lots of people are looking for information related to what you do, why shouldn’t they get it from you? If you have a big readership of surfers following your blog, some of them are bound to check out your products. Why would they think of going somewhere else?

Remember Sainsbury’s 4p curry sauce? How could they sell a product that lost them money? Answer: because for a curry you need meat, rice, and vegetables to go in that sauce. Before you know it, you’ve spent a lot more than 4p.

Blogging is that 4p curry sauce. You are investing time and effort in order to give something of value to your customers at little or no cost to them. In return, they will have a look around your store. After all, those surfers are going to have to get a wetsuit and board before they can ride the great waves you’ve told them about.

The take away message

Blogging makes your target market aware of who you are and what you do. Think of it as product placement. Tweet this.

Approach blogging like a networking event – aim to let people know about you rather than shouting about your products. Tweet this.

Blogging is no different from giving a presentation at a trade event: show people you know your stuff and they’ll buy from you. Tweet this.


Let’s do a bit of networking. Follow me on Twitter and we’ll have a chat.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Ltrig

Provide top quality & value for your business or your clients at just £40 per hour.