Great full page ad I thought in The Times this week from Ralph Lauren: a perfect example of copy being written as a conversation with the reader. You really can image this as an intimate conversation with Ralph Lauren personally… After all, he has designed this latest collection with ‘me’ in mind… “I am proud to share with you, for the first time ever, my new women’s collection right off the runway and into your lives. For me, this is the ultimate expression of luxury – offering you every look, every accessory, every handmade detail immediately in my flagship stores around the world. From the very beginning, I’ve always designed with you in mind. You are changing the way you live and the way you want to shop, and we are changing with you and for you”. 84 words, of which 9 are you/your – 11%.
If I’ve worked with you on writing copy for your letters or website you’ll know what’s coming next…. Pull off the key pages of your website and highlight in different colours the number of times You/your v I/me/we is used. Think about the result. Copy MUST be a conversation with the reader who must be able to identify immediately ‘what’s in it for me’.
– and why so-called intellectuals who dabble in marketing – can be a pain in the ass… I always enjoy receiving newsletters from Andy Owen of Andy Owen Copy and Creative. I heard him speak at a seminar in London a few years back. He says it as it is and there’s always lots to learn and improve on. This is his latest newsletter. He talks about using ‘everyday words’ and further on in the article he lists the ten most frequently-used words in Schwab’s 100 good headlines – which is interesting! I hope all my clients know to write all about YOU/the reader…. I go on about it often enough! Nice to see endorsement, nonetheless…..
“You – 31 Your – 14 How – 12 New – 10 Money – 6 Who – 8 Now – 4 Why – 4 Want – 4 People – 4 (Not many intellectual words in that lot, is there?)
“I use the oldest words in the English language. People think I’m an ignorant bastard who doesn’t know the ten-dollar words.
I know the ten-dollar words. And they don’t work in copy…”
Read that and digest it. Read it again. And again. And believe it. Because it’s true. Hemingway was one of the greatest writers ever.
His work has touched so many people – and will continue to do so, for as long as this world of ours keeps on turning.
One of the secrets of his success, was he was ‘real’. A man of the people…
The way he wrote, connected readily with people. Rich and poor. Of all races and creeds. People of all types and profiles. And, of all ages.
This was down to his genius – and the words he used. Copywriters today could learn so much from him.
If you are writing copy to generate a response and a positive reaction, then here are three essential copy commandments that I’m sure Ernest
would have endorsed, had he been around today.
1. Never use a ‘clever’ word when a simple one will do.
2. Use everyday words that connect to the reader and sound as if
you are talking naturally to them.
3. Keep any so-called intellectuals as far away from your copy as
possible.” Read Andy’s article here
10 top tips on how to write effective subject lines
Another great post from Andy Owen of Copycat, with tips on getting the best from the subject lines you choose in your email marketing.
Lots of pitfalls to avoid of course, and Andy’s slightly acerbic wit creates some great imagery in his article.
A few key pointers from his article to mention:
Getting your emails opened is now one of the most difficult challenges in contemporary communication. In the UK, for example, average opening rates for emails is now under 10% for the first time – and these numbers are still dropping……. That’s nine out of ten emails don’t even get opened, let alone read. Staggering, isn’t it?
What makes us open one email over another? We look at the sender’s name and the subject line – if the subject line is interesting and relevant, that also will give the email a stay of execution.
Keep your subject line to 50 characters or less, including spaces.
Avoid the words ‘Help’, ‘Percent off’, and ‘Reminder’ – and interesting example of ‘Free’ in a test/measure situation.
Do not use CAPITAL letters or exclamation marks.
Benefits to the reader, curiosity and fear are also important to consider. We know that fear of loss is always more powerful than the promise of gain, so using this proven technique can also be very effective. Something
like this: ‘Only 17 tickets left to see XXXX ’.
Who loves presenting to a group? For all the hands that go up, I’m quite sure there’s many more that stay firmly down; in fact in a survey I spotted, this came out as the No. 1 fear. It seems many people would rather die! If we think about it, the word ‘presenting’ covers giving a seminar/talk to a room full of people, to colleagues, to stakeholders, a sales pitch, to your boss, at an interview and so many different scenarios both in business and one’s personal life.
Here are a few pointers to ensure you’re on track in getting the best from your presentations.
1. Understand your audience and make a connection with them
who will be there? if a sales pitch you need more than just names, you need to know their roles and who makes the buying decision
what do they really want from you? – what they really really want, not necessarily what they need!
why are they participating? typically you have 3 types of listeners
o those really eager to learn/take notes and for whom this is important
o those who sit back and watch a slide show and enjoy the coffee and chat
o those there under duress – they’ve been told to attend!
you will need to establish credibility and create an environment that’s right for leaning. You may be able to engage with your audience before your presentation…if colleagues you could e-mail them a summary of your message and a rough list of points you plan to cover. Or to people from outside of our organization, you could post your biography and talking points online and provide links to any pre-reading material.
what time has been allowed? “We have XXX today, does that still work for everyone in the room”? What you don’t want is one of your key partners/stakeholders walking out just after you’ve started.
specific and measurable benefits – what will the audience be looking for?
likely objections – think them through so you can answer at the end if necessary – ensure you have a polished response
2. Understand the defined objective
what’s the purpose of your presentation
what do you want from it?
what’s in it for the listener – clearly articulate this so that benefits are fully communicated and understood
work from defined objectives
3. Too much data? – less is more – 3 points and only 3- eg
I’m here because (I want you to purchase my xxxxx)
The benefit for you is that (eg it will save you £…..)
You then explain your structure and that you will be covering:
how it will increase revenues
reduce your overheads
create happier customers
Why just 3 points?
o memory and impact – the brain learns through repetition, and layering. You need to repeat what you’ve described as main topics and then explain the points in great detail. Layer and repeat, Layer and repeat.
o lead with the best stuff.
o If long and complex, group under 3 headers and lead with the most important
Add some stop slides so the audience can see where you’ve moved on to the next section
So then say you have 3 main areas to talk about x 15 minutes, the intro of 5 minutes and then 10 minutes at the end for questions. Allow time afterwards to mingle with any audience members who want to speak with you.
4. Writing your presentation
Start with the end, what you want to achieve, the action/closing/what/why/how?
Then 3 headlines titles of what you need to talk about to achieve your action closing – generally these will typically be sequential topical problem and solutions, contrast and comparison
Three critical messages
The main body x 3
Your opening words, directions, theme purpose
You may be interested in the 13-box structure by Eugene Moreau – download on the web. You will also want to tap into the ‘emotional sell’ stressing the benefits of your product or service. See below (10) for words/phrases to avoid when giving your presentation
5. Excite your audience
Be confident – have faith in yourself, inspire your audience without drifting into a fantasy realm
Think about your beginning and end. Don’t leave it to inspiration on the wing. Start with confidence. Think SCRIPT> REHEARSE> MEMORIZE. You must start strong or else you’ll have an uphill battle on the way
How can you excite? Be creative and forget the platitudes. Introduce yourself of course and then touch on how you can help the audience. “Hello and welcome to today’s presentation. My name is XX and for XX years I’ve xxxxx (needs to be scripted and memorized). Find a great story to get people to listen. Make it personal, or local if you can. Grab attention.
Can you use imagery – if trying to convey the size of something put it into a context that will be understood and ideally shows you understand where they’re coming from.
Confidence issues? Practise, practise and then some more and master the art of deep breathing and relaxed shoulders.
6. Death by Power Point
more than 300 million people use PowerPoint in the world (that is a scary statistic)!
Only use to visualise your ideas
create key points. Use to impress
Make eye contact with audience and never read from a slide
It must never be a data dump. Never have a slide which you have to preface with ‘I know this next slide is hard to read….. 3 – 4 lines per slide maximum!
Try alternatives – have you played with Prezi yet? http://prezi.com/
Including a slide specific to your audience would be great, eg if they are a particular football team fan, other sport, interest, incorporate that slide somewhere relevantly into your presentation.
Always have a copy of your notes on paper. Just in case!
Aim to produce a presentation that makes yours stand out from all the rest and one that people will remember after the event.
7. Wrap Up
“Just to recap, I told you at the beginning that I wanted to xxxxx and that by purchasing it, your company would save £XXXX. We looked at YYYY and ZZZZZ” Don’t assume the audience has ‘got’ what you’ve told them. The brain finds it hard to assimilate and translate new information. It’s your duty to make sure that the assimilation is as complete as possible.
Collect questions as you go through the presentation and answer at the end
If you’re asked about the competition, take great care. Never ever ‘diss’ the competition, rather reinforce your company’s benefits over your competitor’s offerings (you have done your competitor analysis, haven’t you)? Position yourself against them based upon their strengths and weaknesses. Or, if it’s a specific question to which you don’t know the answer, you could respond along the lines “we respect our competitors, it’s probably better if you talk to them”
If a sales pitch, then a good way to end is “What if anything would prevent you from taking the next step with me right now?” – promotes conversation
Repetition and reinforcement if necessary. Let’s quickly review….
8. Room check
If you’re presenting to a larger audience, then you need to check out the room first – where will you be standing, can everyone see you? Are there pillars in the way? Can you walk around the tables/chairs to keep movement going? How are the lights, what’s the PA system like?
Don’t leave this until an hour before you delivering your presentation. And don’t necessarily rely on the information sent by a venue/organizer.
9. Pointers from The Dragons Den TV programme
Dragons Den did a couple of programmes revisiting what presentations were successful and following some of the ‘winners’. The key pointers included
Make a good first impression – excite
Practice makes perfect
Keep your nerve and stay in control
Don’t offend your audience
Communicate your passion
Be honest about your company and the forecasts
Know your facts – eg if you are applying for a patent, know exactly where you are with the process
Don’t be greedy – but equally know your bottom line
Have a concise strategy which is easily understandable. no waffle, just hard facts and figures.
10. And finally, some suggested words/phrases to AVOID when giving your presentations:
Let me unpack this for you
So, well, you know, it’s like, it’s sorta, kinda…..
Like, you know, um
SO, how many of you have ever….? as an opener
Those buzz words: synergize, monetize, bring to the table, reinvent the wheel, carve out a niche, core competencies, low hanging fruit, deliverables, action items, skill sets – you know the ones – there’s a great game of bingo based on these – have you played it?
At the end of the day
Moving forward, going forward
Add value (even though a MBA favourite!)
Specific sporting terms, eg headwinds and tailwinds
The fact of the matter is
Back in the day
They may or may not
At this point in time
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get ….. or the Insanity one. Most people have got Google too!
Let’s take it to the next level
You may have heard of …
Let’s drill down on that for a moment
I just want to be clear
To be perfectly honest (can you be imperfectly honest?)
Can I be honest with you? (no, please continue to lie!)
If you fancy having a go then this website creates a Buzzword Bingo card every time you refresh the page. If you’re feeling really incensed about particular buzzwords that crop up in your industry, then you can also create your own bingo card by entering your own words. Enjoy!
I hope there are some pointers here which you can utilize in getting the best from your presentations. Good luck!
Call if you would like some help with yours.
Armstrong Beech Marketing
2011. Last updated June 2014
Psychology of colour – why marketers choose certain colours
An interesting article by Kevin Allen on The Psychology of Colour:
“It’s no secret that different colours evoke different emotions in us, and that marketers have been taking advantage of this for years.
But which colours spur which emotions?
Perhaps most notably, it is said that red stimulates the appetite. That’s why the colour is so prevalent with national food chains like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC, Wendy’s, Popeye’s and Chipotle.
Blue, meanwhile, is the colour most preferred by men, and corporations often use it because it is thought to be productive and not invasive.
These and other colour-related insights can be found in this Infographic from CertaPro Painters” For the rest of Kevin Allen’s article, please click here
I enjoyed this article by Graham Jones, internet psychologist. My clients will know I’m often ‘going on’ about pointing out the benefits of your service or product for your reader (WIIFM), how you’re going to solve the reader’s problem, so your copy HAS to be all about the reader. Still though many many website are all about the ‘author’ instead of about the reader. Is yours? check it out now. And if your website is starting with “Welcome to my website” call for help immediately!
“You matter; not just you, personally, but the word “you”. It is significant. Yet much of the Internet uses “we”. “We do this”, “we do that” are the kind of phrases you see all over the web. Indeed you might think that the Internet is weed all over.
Focusing on you visitor or customer is a well-worn mantra, of course. We all know that we do better if we focus on their needs. Oh bother, let’s write that again: you know that you do better when you focus on their needs. See, that’s different?” 3rd May 2013 By Graham Jones Read the whole article here
Some great tips in this article, even though a few years old now. Replace fax for email!
3 Power Tips to Super Charge Your Ads – by Joe Gracia www.givetogetmarketing.com
If you’re like most small business owners you would really love to get a lot more results from your ads. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to place a small ad, or mail a letter or flyer to your target market and then get your phone ringing off the hook. It isn’t that difficult once you know how to construct an ad that attracts your best prospects and gets them to take immediate action.
The problem with most marketing pieces is that they don’t get immediate action. One of the reasons for that is because small business owners are sometimes misled into believing that they don’t need immediate action from their marketing. They believe that getting their name out there in the marketplace builds brand ‘awareness,’ and that’s all you need from your marketing. Don’t you believe it.
by Ernest W. Nicastro To be effective your sales letter must be opened, read, believed and acted upon. In order to do this it must attract attention, warm the interest of the reader, create a desire for your product or service and cause your prospect to take positive action. An effective sales letter, not surprisingly, achieves the same objectives as an effective salesperson and just as there are certain mistakes a salesperson wants to be sure to avoid in the selling process, the same holds true for the writer of sales letters.
To be effective your sales letter must be opened, read, believed and acted upon. In order to do this it must attract attention, warm the interest of the reader, create a desire for your product or service and cause your prospect to take positive action. An effective sales letter, not surprisingly, achieves the same objectives as an effective salesperson and just as there are certain mistakes a salesperson wants to be sure to avoid in the selling process, the same holds true for the writer of sales letters.
So today I present Five Deadly Sales Letter Mistakes. Eliminate one or more of the common blunders described here and it’s a good bet your response rates will improve.
Deadly Sales Letter Mistake # 1 — Writing Your Letter For the Hundreds or Thousands of People You Will Be Mailing It To Instead of One Special Person. One sure way to generate an apathetic response to your sales letter is to write for the group or list of people you will be mailing it to. Approaching your letter with a “crowd mentality” instead of focusing in on a single, real, living, breathing prospect will greatly impair the ability of your letter to make a genuine connection with the reader. The sales letter is the most personal, one-to-one form of advertising there is. As is often said, it’s the only form of advertising that begins with the word “dear.” So it should read like one person sitting down writing to one other person.