Updates. Ideas. Rants. Techniques. Opinions. Blog.

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Why These Tone of Voice Guidelines Are Taking Ages

I’m writing some tone of voice guidelines and, honestly, they are taking forever.

I know what you’re thinking. How long does it take to write ‘friendly and honest’ in a nice font? We have the idea of guidelines as instructive and, providing the actual development has been done, summing it all up should be simple.

But, actually, it’s not the guidelines themselves that are taking a long time. It’s everything that comes before them.

Telling people how to write is the easy part. The catch is in telling them why.

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The One Thing You Should Know About Your Customers

Whether you’re putting an email together or building a brand from the ground up, audience is everything. The golden rule of branding and copywriting is that you need to understand your customers – their motivations, their interests, their desires.

That’s why the first step in a big new copy project is often a customer survey – a look at perceptions and preferences that you can use to underpin your decision making. Things like where you’re most likely to reach people, or what’s most likely to convince them.

But there’s one thing I see that’s overlooked again and again. A single finding that affects everything.

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You Lost Me At Model

It’s Christmas! Almost.

And (spoiler alert) Christmas is all about selling you stuff. Retailers are having the time of their lives, but they’re also facing cut-throat competition where only a perfect little Penguin will do.

Everyone’s trying hard for a heartwarming Christmas ad. But not everyone’s doing a great job.


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Swiped: Skoda’s Bland Background

Freelance copywriters love long copy.

But we would, wouldn’t we?

In terms of work, we like projects we can sink our teeth into. Excuses to get creative, to go deeper, and to be clever. Long copy lets a copywriter show off. We also like to read them, because we’re the type of people that read. We’re interested in advertising, and how a writer can hold attention beyond a strapline.

But what about customers and prospects, the people that really matter? Have time-short consumers really got time to read all that copy?

In this Swiped post, I’ve chosen a long copy example that’s uniquely aware of the debate. It doesn’t expect anything from its audience.

But it persuades prospects effectively, whether they go long or short.

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Does Your Freelance Copywriter Need a Big One?

Let’s face it – a big one makes it easier for everyone involved.

It can provide a handy shortcut for decision makers on whether they want to start a relationship or not. If you know that other people are satisfied, you can be more confident than ever that your freelance copywriter will satisfy you too.

But a big brand just isn’t the be all and end all. Size isn’t everything.

So why are so many copywriters eager to pull out their brands and measure them side by side?

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Don’t Make Offerings To Copywriting Gurus

Guru Nanak earned his title.

This guy was a radical, from the age of 11. He stared into the face of Hindu and Islamic thought and decided it wasn’t right. In one the most famous stories of Guru Nanak, he announced that people should be judged by what they do, not the threads that they wear. This was the foundation of the Sikh religion.

A radical free-thinker that defined an entire religion. That’s a guru.

Does it really apply to your copywriter?

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Bad Copywriting Kills Brands

For all of the insults levied against the advertising industry over time, there are few copywriters that would like to be known as killers.

It’s just not a great reputation to bring to the world of marketing!

But bad copywriting is like the lethal injection for a brand. Whether it happens quickly and painlessly or over the course of several months, substandard copywriting sucks the life from an organisation until there is nothing left to see.

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