Tag Archives: Marketing

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

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

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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.

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Grammar is a mysterious ritual to some business owners

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

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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.

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Common copy mistakes that kill readability

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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.

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Volkswagen’s Adverts Have a Message for Us All

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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?

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Does your copy say what you think it does?

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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?

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About to publish your new blog post? Stop!

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DSCI0198A blog is supposed to make your company look fun, sexy, and interesting. A lot of company blogs do the opposite, however. Grammar errors, indecipherable sentence structure, and bland text are all common. They drive customers away.

It happens because people don’t take a few minutes after finishing their blog post to run through some simple checks to make sure that it actually works.

Bookmark this page, and the next time you go to post your latest blog, make sure you’ve done all the things below first. Trust me, you’ll get better results because it.

Read it aloud

You’ll be amazed at the difference between reading aloud and reading in your head. Not only will you pick up errors you didn’t previously notice, you’ll also get a better understanding of your writing style. If you find yourself struggling, then maybe your sentence structure needs a bit more work. Common errors include overly long sentences, punctuation in the wrong places, and starting a sentence intending to make one point, but ending by making another. The problem with this is that your customers and then the aeroplane will crash. That’s an example.

Does your title titillate?

The title will be the first thing that most people will see of your blog post. Whether they are subscribed to receive updates, or they follow you on social media, they will see your title and decide whether to read your post based upon it. So does it do a good job of representing the post? Does it raise an issue, ask a question, suggest a solution, promise knowledge or new skills? In short is anyone actually going to want to read the post?

Have you started as you mean to go on?

Your first paragraph has to draw people through the rest of the post. Think of it as building momentum. At the beginning your audience is likely mildly interested (thanks to that title) but is largely unresponsive. They are a large heavy boulder and it’s your job to give them a push to start them rolling. Some social media previews of your blog post will also include the first few lines, making it even more important that your first paragraph is as enticing as a sign outside a shop which reads ‘free chocolate bar with every half price cake purchased’.

Will your audience be able to finish it before they die?

A common error is overly long blog posts. Gargantuan essays that run to thousands of words that are not only physically difficult to read, they’re all so mind numbingly dull. If you have a lot to say on a single topic, create a series of blog posts in which you break the issue down into easily explainable or debatable chunks. Or create an eBook. You can give it away for free as an incentive to collect email signups. Click here and download my content strategy guide as an example. The better you are as a writer, the longer a post you can get away with, because you will be able to keep the audience hooked throughout. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. At least if the problem is that it’s too short your audience is left wanting more.

Have you included a call to action?

And just as importantly is it varied? Personally, I think one of the things that can often put readers off is ending your blog post with the same call to action each time. You need to tell your readers to do something though, otherwise they won’t. Tell them to share your post, invite them to comment, or get them to email you their feedback. A potential customer who gets all the way to the end of one of your blog posts is someone you want to hold onto. Excluding the use of nets, tranquilliser darts, and electronic tagging, don’t let them get away.

What’s your pre-posting blog routine? Do you even have one? Let me know your process in the comment section or tweet me @TheHyperteller.

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Is social media the death of the website?

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Photo Credit: Kencf0618, Wikimedia Commons

There’s an emerging belief amongst certain social media gurus that websites are fast becoming obsolete. The opportunities offered by social media platforms – they claim – eclipse the need for a dedicated company domain.

But is this new belief a passing eccentricity to give self-proclaimed gurus something to say, or the beginning of a new development in internet marketing?

Social pros

With the vast range of platforms available to you – mostly for free – there are certainly plenty of opportunities to reach your target market and distribute your brand content to a range of different audiences. Different platforms give you different ways of isolating and engaging your target market: from LinkedIn’s groups to Twitter’s hashtags.

It’s true that social media has eclipsed the website in one way – in that the former has now become the default ‘must have’ for businesses. Ten years ago, your business had to have a website; now, you have to have social media, or so it seems.

Websites are now as obsolete as radio

Proclaiming the death of the website at the hands of social media has a certain ring of déjà vu to it. It happens with every new technology. Cinema was meant to kill radio, television was to be the end of cinema, CDs would make vinyl redundant…

It’s very easy to get overexcited by new technology and go around proclaiming it the best thing since sliced bread (which, incidentally, was surely invented at the same time as bread itself. Isn’t bread the more impressive invention of the two?). It is, after all, the role of every innovator and early adopter to sing the praise of their latest discovery.

Don’t delete your domain just yet

As with all marketing tactics, there are no absolutes. What you should do depends on what works best for your business. But there are a lot of questions that need to be answered regarding the loss of a website. You have to be confident you can communicate the benefits of your company and product in a few characters or sentences. You need to be sure your customers will find you before your competitors. You have to ensure you aren’t alienating significant portions of your target market who might not use social media, or who don’t want to use it for interacting with brands and companies.

It’ll take a few people to try it first before we know for sure. The rest of us will just have to sit in our comfy chairs and let time decide whether they were being savvy or rash.

Have you ever considered a social only policy? If not, why?

Photo Credit: Kencf0618, Wikimedia Commons

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Do you market your business like it’s a charity?

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Have you heard of Chuggers? It’s short for Charity Muggers, and refers to those people in town centres who try and bully or guilt you into donating money. While their dedication to a good cause is admirable, no one likes being unable to walk down the street without being pounced upon by a person with a clipboard.

(Once, five of them spread themselves out across the bottom of a street in Penzance so that it was impossible to get past without talking to one of them.)

What has this got to do with business, you might ask?

Are you trying to mug your customers with marketing?

A quick trip around Twitter or the internet in general reveals many companies marketing as though they are charities; Twitter accounts with nothing on them but ‘Read our latest blog post’, or ‘Check out our latest deals’; blogs that only talk about the service they provide; Facebook posts consisting entirely of links to their website.

People don’t respond to this type of marketing very well. The reason is that internet users are thinking about what they get out of the deal. It’s not selfish, it’s only logical. Why should they invest their time in visiting your website, or following you on Facebook? People want value, and following a Twitter account that constantly badgers them to check out your website doesn’t give them anything of value.

Can you spare five minutes, ma’am?

The reason this kind of marketing fails is because you are a business, not a charity. People expect charities to ask for favours – that’s the point. But very few people who don’t know you personally are going to ‘Like’ your Facebook page just to help you out. They need to get something back out of the arrangement.

Just as a good example; my author page on Facebook has 85 ‘Likes’, 50 of which are from friends, yet I have around 150 friends. I’m not bothered for a second that those 100 other friends haven’t ‘Liked’ my page. Clearly they don’t feel there’s anything in it for them, and if I can’t provide them with value, then I don’t want them to be following me. But it perfectly illustrates the fact that even friends won’t always ‘Like’ your Facebook page, or follow you on Twitter or WordPress. So why would complete strangers be more selfless?

Marketing is Christmas, not Birthdays

Think of marketing as Christmas – people give you presents, but you have to give them something back. You are both adding value to each other’s lives. However, many business approach marketing as though it is a birthday, in that they expect people to give them things, for nothing in return.

Learn to give your customers and followers value, and they will be far more likely to engage with you. Share great content that they will love, offer prizes or tips and insights, ask for their opinions and feedback. In other words, give them a reason to follow.

Because ‘We want you to buy stuff from us‘ isn’t a reason to follow.

Stuck for ideas? I can help with the creation of great blog articles, web content, and print marketing copy that excites and engages your target market. Send me an email now.

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New Year Blogging Resolutions

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The beginning of the year is a perfect time to take a good look at your business. Are there areas for improvement? What about opportunities you can capitalise on?

For many businesses, getting more customers will be on the list. Your blog is a great way of doing that, as you can attract people who are interested in what you do, engage with them, and slowly convert them.

You may already have a blog, but it might not be performing as you hoped. Instead of abandoning it, here are 5 New Year blogging resolutions for you to follow. Stick to these, and you’ll see plenty of improvement.

1. Give something back

People don’t read business blogs because they are interested in what they can offer the business. They read blogs which promise them something – whether that is information, discounts, exclusive news, or the chance to have a say on important issues. Don’t use your blog as a platform for blowing your own trumpet or advertising yourself. Instead, think about how you can give something of value to your readers.

2. Read it aloud

You’ll find out just how easy your new post is to read if you hear it said aloud. You spot a lot more when you do this than running through it silently in your head. Having to actually say it makes you aware of sentence length, rhythm, and poor phrasing.

3. Share the link

Let people know about your new post. Share the link on your social profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. If you are giving people something of value (like tips), then they are going to want to know about it.

4. Invite comments

Think of your average internet user as though they are shy. Even the most outspoken, confident people might not naturally think to ‘Like’, comment, or Share your article. Tell, or ask, them to do so, and you’ll see an increase in the amount of engagement you get from your readers.

5. Remember who you’re talking to

Think about your ideal reader. What do they want to hear? How do they want to be spoken to? The best way to ensure you are attracting your target customers is to speak in a language, and talk about topics, that they identify with. Then you’ll know that the people who follow and comment on your blog are the ones you want to be doing business with.

There we have it. Five simple blogging tips to help you make the most of your blog this year. Bookmark this page so you can refer back to it at a later date, and don’t forget to share it with your friends and colleagues so they can benefit too.

What are your business resolutions for 2014? Leave a comment to let me know.

And for more great blogging advice, contact me today.

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5 copywriting tips for writing effective Calls to Action

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Calls to Action are a vital part of any marketing content. They ensure your readers do what you want them to. Many companies make the mistake of assuming their customers will automatically take the next step.

PensYou have to lead your customer by the hand all the way to their destination – be that making a purchase, signing up to your mailing list, or leaving a review. These five tips will help you write perfect Call to Actions that get results and drive customers to do what you need them to.

1. Be precise

What exactly is it they need to do, and why? Tell your customers how to contact you, and the reason that they should. ‘Call today to order our next season catalogue’ means that people don’t have to think for themselves. They know what it is they should do next.

2. Be immediate

Don’t give your visitors a chance to forget you. If they leave your website or shop, or put your brochure or flyer aside, you may have lost them. Tell people to get in touch today or now.

3. Be assured

Be confident in your services. ‘Call us today to see if we can help you’ suggests that there is a good chance you can’t. You don’t want to give your potential customers a reason not to do what you want them to. ‘Talk to us today about how our services will help you achieve your goals’ is much better. If you are confident in your product or service, potential customers will be more likely to be as well.

4. Be assumptive

Be confident when telling customers what to do next. Assume that they have already chosen to use your services. ‘Call us today to discuss your project’ is far more effective than ‘If you decide to use us, get in touch to discuss things’. Talking to your potential customer as though they already are your customer could help them make up their minds.

5. Be prepared

Think about the way in which you want customers to communicate with you. Would it be easier to deal with enquires via email, phone, or in person? Once you’ve decided, use your Calls to Action to get people to contact you in your preferred way.

Combine these five simple tips for killer Calls to Action that people can’t resist. Save yourself time and effort by getting me to do it for you – email me today to find out how easy and affordable it is.

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