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Straightforward design, marketing, and technical advice for making your marketing communications more effective.

It’s Easy to Spot Amateur Copy—by Lewis Bassett

August 13th, 2014

It’s easy to spot amateur copy.

Amateurs don’t know how to express anything other than excitement. So it’ll be high energy, full of hype, exaggeration and exclamation marks.

“Our new mouth-watering deserts are guaranteed to light your valentine’s fire! You’re in for a fun night! Hurry up and book now!”

Great copy should be conversational.

You should be speaking to your prospects the same way a friend might, if they were discussing the topic over a quiet drink after work.

There’s place for excitement. But there are so many other emotions you can – and should – express. (E.g., fear, shame, intrigue, suspense, tenderness, anger, sadness, surprise, benevolence, optimism, etc.)

We tend to do this naturally in conversation. And great copywriters know this.

But what if you’re not a great copywriter? Does this mean you can’t write great copy?

Probably. But it doesn’t mean you can’t write good copy.

There’s a simple and easy way to write compelling copy. And if you follow it, your work will be better than 90% of all the other rubbish that pollutes the Internet.

You don’t need any training. And you don’t need any specialist techniques.

Here’s what you do.

Go out and pitch your offering to as many people as you can. These must be people that are in a position to buy it.

Make sure you record every pitch you make. (There are plenty of iPhone apps for this.)

What you now have is compelling, conversational and natural copy.

You might need to clean it up a little. And you might want to add or remove a few points.

But what you have is proven to work, because it already won you the sale. Put it on your website, and it’ll almost certainly outperform what is on there right now.

Carpe diem.

Lewis Bassett
Director, Bassett Providentia Ltd

Copyright © 2012, Bassett Providentia Ltd

Lewis Bassett is an online marketing consultant and speaker, and helps companies to increase their revenue. Bassett Providentia Ltd is his consulting practice. For more information and to subscribe to his email list visit www.bassettprovidentia.com.

Another Example of Great Branding

January 1st, 2013

As a follow-up to the great Google Chrome ad I posted a few days ago, here’s another great TV ad from Volkswagen. As mentioned about the Google Chrome Ad . . . there are two keys to  branding that both these ads excel in: authenticity and emotion. If you don’t connect with your customers in these areas they really won’t get the true value you’re offering with your product.

The emotion of this ad is obvious, but notice too how authentic the laughter is. If the laughing in this commercial came across even with a suspicion of being staged the ad would lose a lot of its effectiveness.  Another important key to this ads success is the very personal nature of the content . . . for a moment we feel like we’re sharing a intimate moment with someone we know.

This ad exemplifies the sales  axiom . . . people buy from those they know and trust. In a matter of 30 seconds Volkswagen takes us from being a stranger to making us feel like we know and trust them. Every bit of your branding and marketing communication needs to be created with this same axiom in mind.

Website Content 101

September 7th, 2012

The content of your Web site is crucial and should be developed to quickly answer the basic questions and needs of your specific target visitors. Research shows that you only have a few seconds to entice your visitors to stay so it’s vital that you present obvious choices for them to find the information they need. In addition clear and compelling navigation options need to be present that allow your visitors to easily recognize where they should click to proceed through the sales/information process.

If your visitors become confused about what your site is about or how it applies to them, they are likely to just leave and look elsewhere. The goal of your front page is to allow visitors to qualify themselves as prospects for your business or organization and to proceed through the sales process by accepting a call to action that you offer. Call to actions can include purchasing online, contacting you for an appointment, subscribing to your newsletter/blog or whatever the specific next step is in your sales process.

The Essential Questions Visitors to Your Site Will Need Answered:

  • What do you do? One of the most common mistakes that sites make is not being clear on exactly what they are providing. The more complex of solution you offer the more important it is to provide this answer in easy-to-understand language. The essence of what you do should be the basis of your organization’s mission statement, but answering the “What you do” question will also include the specific products or services  you’re offering.
  • Why you do it? This is related to an organization’s vision statement but needs to be expressed in concise language free from industry jargon. Telling visitors “why you do it” is a means of establishing credibility and positioning yourself as an expert adviser for recommending a solution to their needs.
  • Why are you the best choice? This question is the most vital for new prospects and should be answered by your unique value proposition. Your unique value proposition is simply a concise statement of how you
    meet their need better than anyone else
    .  In addition to stating your unique value, you need to back it up with real-life examples. The most effective support will be testimonials, portfolio’s of your past work, and third party reviews or endorsements if available.
  • What can I do? This is the question you want most asked because it means your visitor is satisfied (or at least intrigued) with the answers to their first three questions. They are asking how to proceed through your sales process. This doesn’t mean they’re necessarily ready to buy, but they’re willing to take a step closer. Your site needs to present unambiguous action items for your customers to answer their question of “What can I do?” by providing conspicuous “call to action” links in the body of your front page and the navigation menu.

How To Provide the Answers

Here are a few key principles for answering your visitors’ questions :

  1. Be concise. Paragraphs of text on your front page will bury the answers to your visitors’ questions and result in a high abandon rate. Your front page, and navigation bar, should be thought of as a map that clearly directs people to more detailed information on the destination of their choice, without them having to think twice about their choices. While, supporting pages will provide more detailed answers the still must avoid verbosity to be effective.
  2. Communicate in layman’s terms and avoid your industry’s jargon. Realize that much of the internal language your organization uses may have no relevance for your visitors.
  3. Provide clear call-to-action choices for all types of visitors. The fundamental questions presented above provide answers for newly aware prospects through “trial” or first-time buyers. If you anticipate clients, customers with an ongoing relationship with your organization, to be frequent visitors you need to accommodate the needs of these visitors. Other visitor types can include press, investors or employers. The answers to each type of visitor questions need to be presented in proportion to the importance they have towards achieving the overall goals of your site.

See also: It’s Easy to Spot Amateur Copy

How long do you want to be in business?

August 14th, 2012

How many business leaders plan on sacrificing so much of their life for a business that sticks around for a decade or two? Assuming the answer to this rhetorical question to be “few if any,” then another question is begged: Why is the shelf life of most companies so short?

The best place to look is on the opposite end of the spectrum, to those companies who have created a legacy. I’ve been fascinated by this topic especially since recently becoming an adoring fan of Fiskars, a company founded in 1649 and on the cutting edge today of customer evangelism marketing utilizing social media.

Weihenstephan Brewery

Founded 1040

So maybe a better question to ask is, “Why  are old companies are still around?” Starting with the extreme relics like Kongo Gumi, (the Japanese construction company who was in continual operation from the year 578 until January of 2006) there is a treasure of insight available that we can directly apply to the business environment today. I’m no business history expert, but I am smart enough to deduce that most of these companies are going to be found very strong in two important suits: 1)Exploiting environmental change, and 2)Exemplifying the marketing concept.  Inversely we can deduce that most companies, the ones with short shelf lives, are probably vulnerable to environmental change and don’t adequately embrace the marketing concept.

Here’s what makes this topic so provocative todayas you may be aware we’ve just stepped into a period of radical revolution that will be destroying the status quo of how business interacts with society through social media and  mobile devices.

So what’s the average business to do? Fight the trend?  Stick to the old ways that have worked (or at least kept one’s head above water) and hope it all goes away? It all depends on how you answered the question of “How long do you want to be in business?”  My brash prediction is that companies, large and small, who do not undergo an extreme
makeover and embrace the paradigm shifts of customer facing social media and mobile marketing platforms will cease to exist, sooner or later within the 21st century. For context to my position please see our perfect storm analogy.

As we continue to progress this new era, it’s a prudent tactic to take some time and study those organizations that have weathered and prospered from these storms of change time and time againa truly fascinating  and timely study.  Here’s a list of the world’s oldest companies for those interested.

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