Tag Archives: writing

@OneMinuteBriefs: Advertise Pencils


Here’s how I advertised the humble pencil.

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“A picture is worth a thousand words”… or not: Why advertising needs its copywriters.


Some wise old dicky-bird, probably with shares in the print/photography industry, once said that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Yeh, and next you’ll be telling me that soldiers taste as great without the warm, gooey yoke…

Advertising – print ads to be precise – needs to be captivating and eye catching… there are no two ways about it. But ads also need to be witty, hysterical or shocking – perhaps even all three?

It would be hard to achieve all that with just a picture.

Problem is, if your reader has turned the page without eliciting any kind of emotion or reaction to your ad, YOU’VE FAILED.

We live in a world where speed is of the essence… we don’t have time for anything that doesn’t grab us. Everything needs to be instant – instant coffee, instant messaging, even instant cash loans. So why should your advertising play by any other rules?

Pictures certainly have the power to catch your eye, but so have awesome headlines or short copy…

Here’s one I made earlier… to illustrate my point.

Don't just settle for dry toast

Here is a quick print ad exercise I did to underline the importance of copy in advertising. Without the copy you’re left with just an image – you wouldn’t just settle for just the toast if you’d ordered boiled egg and soldiers would you?

An image may dangle the bait tantalisingly in front of the readers eyes, but it’s the killer copy that’s going to land you the prize. Words will seal the deal – of that I’m sure.

I feel a case-study coming on. Let’s consider the picture above…

Imagine you’ve decided to pay a visit to your local upmarket cafe. You order the boiled egg and soldiers and wait eagerly for the home baked, white and crispy buttered toast, and the perfectly formed egg to arrive. After just ten minutes your eyes light up as you see the waitress emerge from the kitchen, but to your horror she’s carrying just a plate of toast – and it’s not even buttered.

As a paying customer, you’re left unsatisfied and you sure as hell won’t be recommending your experience to anyone.

DON’T JUST SETTLE FOR DRY TOAST. 

Just as your soldiers needs a good dollop of warm yoke running from the dipping end to your fingertips, great pictures need great words.

With print ads, the right copy can make a good picture a great picture. Why serve up only half of what you’re offering?

So again I return to my opening line: “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Well I’m not so sure, and neither should you if you’re an ad man.

Could a picture have summed up this now timeless adage?

In fact the phrase itself is probably more symbolic of the power of words, as opposed to imagery. Might it be fighting the good fight?

If you’re not convinced, peruse these great ads I’ve discovered – all showcase just how effective awesome copy can be.

It’s safe to say I now really want a Volkswagen Rabbit.

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Next time, I’m gonna try this challenge: Write a full page print ad for SNOW whitening toothpaste.

As they would say on TV, tune in next time for that.

If you like what you read, please do like/share/subscribe.

Much obliged.

3 Easy Ways To Overcome The Scourge Of Writer’s Block.


Imagine a world without writer’s block – the grass certainly seems greener, and the girls prettier.

Now back to reality.

You’re sitting at your desk in a dark room. It’s marked by years of coffee cup abuse – what some would mistake as knots in the wood, are actually ring-shaped stains – hell, you’re the single-greatest living advertisement for the coaster industry. Worst of all, you’ve got front row tickets to your very own Greek tragedy. Yet unlike the solo beam of the stage light illuminating Oedipus, your solitary light source comes courtesy of the luminescence of the blank word document staring back at you – sound familiar to you?

Despite being completely featureless – that is after all the problem – the white glow of your masterpiece-in-progress seems to be grinning at you… it’s mocking you… and it’s enjoying it.

Perhaps hyperbole’s got the better of me here. Either I’ve just described your “I’m-banging-my-head-against-the-wall” predicament, or my very own inspiration-starved state of desperation has vomited up a cacophony of heinous cliches.

Nevertheless, here’s your quick-fix to…

Writer’s block… the Wall…. the source of your greatest frustration.

How about some empowerment? It’s time you showed a triumphant middle finger to the inspiration vacuum. It’s time you formed a mighty fist with which to smash the wall. It’s time you asked yourself: ‘Do I feel lucky?’. Well, do ya, punk?

I really wanted to get that line in there – could you tell?

Here’s that empowerment you were looking for in some nice, manageable, numerical steps.

1. Just get writing already.

In the not-too-distant future technology will be able to read your thoughts so you can tweet or IM telepathically. So why don’t you beat the computers to the punch. They’ve needed someone to bring them down a peg, or two – ever since that Conan-esque robot from the future began preaching about machines becoming self-aware. Pah.

Put your thoughts to paper.

If you start writing what you’re thinking, maybe you’ll start thinking about what you’re writing. Problem solved.

The law of averages dictate that your spiel is just as likely to be the literary reincarnation of Oscar Wilde, as it is Stephanie Meyer. If you’re lucky you’ll have banished your writer’s block to the farthest corners of your consciousness. You might even find yourself regaling your audience with charmingly whimsical, timeless quips.

On the other hand, the very same law of averages may leave you writing some nonsense about angst-y vampires. But you must think positively – at least you’ve solved your chronic case of absolute nothingness.

Now, what’s next?

2. Writer’s block getting you down? Hint: Write about writer’s block.

This is your therapy, your rehabilitation.

“Hello, my name is Ryan and I have writer’s block.”

That’s the way these programs are portrayed in popular culture. They promote openness and discussion to overcome your deviances and addictions. Think of this solution as your very own AA meeting – without the need to come face-to-face with other people’s problems. Win-win.

Let’s extend the metaphor further.

Please take a moment to recline upon your very own therapists couch. Don’t like leather couches? You can have linen – it’s not a problem.

Work through it and the inspiration will come – you’re on the path to recovery.

Now you’ve just got to hurdle that wall.

3. ‘I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise’

As Shania Twain will tell you: “So you have writer’s block? That don’t impress me much.”

You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last to contract this terrible affliction.

You need to be fully aware that you are not in possession of some kind of inspiration tap you can turn on and off as you please – there will be times when you want to carry out the first-half of your very own hair transplant.

Your panic and your surprise is unwarranted and a hindrance – take the rough with the smooth.

For those that didn’t get the reference to Jack… it’s from Fight Club, yet ironically this third stage is all about you not beating yourself up about writer’s block.

Whether you’re writing professionally or as a hobby, neither your aptitude nor your adoration for word-smithery will have disappeared for good. Think of writer’s block as more of a hiatus – just pray your return isn’t the damp squib most musical hiatuses produce… sorry Fall Out Boy.

That’s 3 simple methods for you to try and break the deadlock.

Challenging writer’s block can be incredibly satisfying – your very own slaying of the Hydra. Saying that, at times the Hydra can seem preferable.

But remember: Writing wouldn’t be nearly as fun if it was easy, and when your brain throws up one of it’s seemingly insurmountable walls, it’s just your own sub-conscious’ way of posing a challenge. As a writer you need the wall occasionally to keep yourself motivated and on your toes.

I’m just offering you a boost – can you see the other side yet?

If you found this helpful/ entertaining/ insightful (delete as appropriate) please do share/ like/ subscribe (you know the drill).

SEO Copywriting Unscrambled


Right, time to tackle another scary acronym.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation is the art of making your website, and it’s content, as sexy as possible for search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Imagine your content is Mila Kunis, and Google is your average ogling FHM reader.

SEO is the voodoo that transforms her from this:

To THIS:

According to the ultra helpful and hugely insightful CopybloggerSEO was ‘traditionally about optimizing web page copy by targeting keyword phrases in certain frequencies and densities’.

But Copyblogger also suggests that perhaps these days are over. Dun Dun Duuuuun!

In fact, keywords focused SEO is way last year. Modern day optimisation is more about what people say about your content, as opposed to what you say about it yourself. This is where the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs come in handy.

Visit Copyblogger’s article: “Does SEO Copywriting Still Matter?”

What this diagram illustrates is that although keyword usage is important, healthy external support and building up trust from social networking is a key component in getting Google to view your content as a bonafide, GQ-worthy Mila.

So ultimately, it all comes down to GREAT CONTENT. You want people to read what you have to say, and genuinely feel compelled to share it, link to it, and organically boost your site’s search engine rankings. Instead of keywords actually transforming Mila from bedraggled to bedazzling in the eyes of Google, SEO is in fact more pertinently about ensuring your website has already produced divine content that you can share with us mere mortals, who can’t help but admire and share.

It seems to be the consensus that two great starting points are:

  1. Using social media as a platform – submitting content to websites such as Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook.
  2. Using links – linking to other website will demonstrate that you are connected. Maybe the recipient will one day return the favour…

You might be wondering why I’m banging on about something that’s already been explained perfectly over at Copyblogger – well if I’m honest, I’m being selfish.

This has all been an exercise because I’ll be grappling with the SEO beast soon enough when I start my new job.

You heard it right. Thanks to you, WordPress, my skills are being honed, my work showcased, and you’re enjoying the ride.  

I hope this blog is proving as useful for you as it has been for me.

Anyways, I’m going to read some more about SEO, and see where the whacky world of marketing takes me next.

Don’t forget to like or subscribe for more posts about copywriting – maybe it could help YOU too.

Until next time.

P.S. I’ve ditched the dodgy “Entry #x” from the title – hope you don’t mind.

Entry #3: Don’t Read or I’ll Brutally Murder a Cat


Actually that’s a complete lie,  I really like cats.

So time to hang up and apologise for wasting the RSPCA’s time because this is just an experiment I thought I’d share with you.

Allow me to explain…

A little birdy once told me that everything you write needs a hook. Something that catches the reader’s attention, makes them want to read on, and leaves them no choice but to read on. The most effective way to do this is with a captivating headline – or even a shocking one.

Actually that was a half lie as well. It wasn’t a little bird, it was actually a blog dedicated to copywriting.

This very helpful website informed me that my primary aim should be to get my first sentence read. The headline should offer the reader something that benefits them and makes them powerless to resist the pull of the next sentence.

Needless to say, for legal reasoning, this statement has never been more accurate.

This website used the header “Don’t Read This or the Kitty Gets It!” as a crude example, hence my homage. I feel I may have crossed the line, but that’s science. This experiment was designed to push the boundaries.

The author provides a less-shocking-than-mine SHOCK factor. And it works!

So in theory you’re still reading, right?

Now that Fluffy’s (that’s the cat) helped me get your attention, today I discovered People Per Hour – a website that allows you to search for and offer your creative services. So I decided to create a profile and advertise my skills to the big wide world.

I’m offering fresh, interesting, and engaging copy for whatever you need it for. That’s online web copy, catchy hooks and headlines, social media, blogs, articles, and more covered. I’ve even set up an Hourlie – in English that’s me offering you some high quality copy for £10.

If you want 250 words that’s just 4p per word. For 500, that’s a ridiculous 2p per word. You get the idea, I’ll leave the maths to you.

So now I’ve told you what I wanted to, you’ll be happy to hear I’m open for business.

Oh, and don’t worry the blog claims that Fluffy’s fine.  

All that’s left is for you to share, like and subscribe and no animals will be harmed.

Just kidding.

 

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