Tag: copywriting

Six copywriting, marketing and marcomms-related snippets

| February 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

Star Trek - BorgIt’s high time I jotted down my latest bunch of random marketing, copywriting and marcomms-related snippets. Here goes.

Google content length rumours?

I heard a rumour the other day about Google giving advice on the length of posts, articles and web pages. Someone thought they’d heard that ‘content’ should be at least 600 words long these days, longer than the search engine giant had, allegedly, previously recommended. Hm. I’m sceptical, since the Big G isn’t usually in the habit of prescribing how long or otherwise content should be.

If anything less should be more, rather than wittering on unnecessarily just for the sake of adding more words. I write enough copy to do a proper job, no longer and no shorter. Anything else smacks of manipulation, a bad idea when content creators should be doing the decent thing and putting readers first.

I’ve had a good look for the news but can’t find anything. Unless we hear different, it’s safe to assume that Google has recommended no such thing.

Google Glass database marketing fail

I want Google Glass. Six months ago I signed up for email updates about it. I keep reading thrilling stuff about how scientists and geeks worldwide are playing with Glass code to create remarkable new applications, but I haven’t heard a peep out of Google. No emails, no newsletters, no news, no teasers or tasters… nowt.

I rarely hand over my contact details but when I do, I actually expect to be contacted. Poor show, Google. You could be building anticipation through your presumably vast opted-in database of hot prospects. But instead you leave us dangling. Come on Google, blow my mind.

Bling, bling… meet the projector necklace

If you find the idea of Google Glass a bit too close to the Borg for comfort, how about accessing smartphone content through a necklace or brooch? Such gadgets could one day revolutionise the way we consume data by projecting stuff like emails, tweets and text alerts onto nearby surfaces, to be opened using hand gestures. Along with smartwatches, they represent yet another reason why Google Glass marketers need to get their skates on before another revolutionary gadget grabs the new technology crown.

‘Cheap software’ used by whistleblowers?

The NSA says Edward Snowden used ‘cheap’ software to access and scrape data from its websites. In their words, “We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence”. Presumably the software, being cheap, should also have been easy to detect? Whoops.

Can you ‘speak to’ that?

Ouch. When I first heard someone on TV say , “I can speak to that”, it hurt. It’s awful hearing your language so badly mangled. A short time later it started popping up everywhere as Americans gleefully spread the habit. That was six months ago. Now, although it’s butt ugly and downright wrong, it’s fast becoming common parlance. And it’s starting to sound OK. So yes, I can speak to that, although until it goes totally mainstream in Britain I would never include it in content.

Permissive plague

Here’s another one that’s escaped into the wild. If I see one more sign advertising a Permissive Footpath, I shall fall to the ground and start foaming at the mouth.  Because footpaths are permissive by nature, all you need to say is Footpath. If there’s no footpath, you don’t need a sign. If it’s private you just put up a sign saying Private Footpath or No Entry. Simple.

Remarkable lyrics… but a big copywriting fail!

| September 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

Billie HolidayYou love words, you’ve got to love lyrics. And 1930s to ’50s jazz lyrics float my boat more than most.

Here are some of the best, from You Go To My Head, penned by the mighty Haven Gillespie and J. Fred Coots back in 1938.

It’s awesome stuff, and a brilliant example of plain language used to its most powerful effect.  Have a read of this. And listen to the Billie Holiday version of the tune on YouTube if you fancy a treat. It’s the best of the bunch.

You go to my head

You go to my head
And you linger like a haunting refrain
And I find you spinning ’round in my brain
Like the bubbles in a glass of champagne

You go to my head
Like a sip of sparkling Burgundy brew
And I find the very mention of you
Like the kicker in a julep or two

The thrill of the thought
That you might give a thought to my plea
Cast a spell over me
Still I say to myself get a hold of yourself
Can’t you see that it never can be

You go to my head
With a smile that makes my temperature rise
Like a summer with a thousand Julys
You intoxicate my soul with your eyes
Though I’m certain that this heart of mine
Hasn’t a ghost of a chance in this crazy romance
You go to my head

Whoops… copywriting fail! 

Many thanks to Sing365 for the lyrics.

I’ve nofollowed the Sing365 link. How come? Because I spotted some scary copy on the site, which I don’t want to link to just in case Google decides to take a dislike to it and devalues the site, which could in turn affect my own rankings. To make it clear I didn’t write it, I’ve marked it up as a <blockquote>.

Mentioning the key term ‘lyrics’ six times in the following paragraph is poor SEO practice. It’s badly written too, and I suspect it has been spun.

Sorry folks. Your site is brilliant. But this is nasty:

These lyrics reveal with what sophistication and insight into the human condition that lyrics used to be written as opposed to the lyrics of today which are a race to the bottom covering the most basest of human emotion. These lyrics challenge our understanding of ourselves whereas todays lyrics reinforce simple cliches of pseudo celebrity fantasies that we take on as identity. These deep lyrics over chords which exude mood not found in todays repetitive robotic chord progressions make this a superb example of what song writing can be.

Random marketing-related stories and sound bites

| September 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

logo for Brighton SEOIt’s time for another round-up of random marketing and copywriting-related bits and bobs…

Brighton SEO take-aways

Thanks to the dynamic Kelvin from Site Visibility and everyone else involved with this autumn’s Brighton SEO conference, a blinder of an event. A far cry from the first one, held upstairs in the Quadrant pub and attended by about fifteen of us. Ah, the olden days.

If you missed the conference’s shit hot digital marketing gurus, with their wisdom-drenched insights into an uncertain yet thrilling future, bung it in your diary for next spring. It’s so worth it. And it’s free.

The April 2013 event concentrated on the future in an SEO landscape that had changed beyond belief in the previous 12 months. This time around the dust had settled. Here are my top 3 take-aways.

  1. Does your content ‘deserve’ backlinks? if you want to generate backlinks you need to create content that ‘deserves’ them. You shouldn’t even have to ask for links. A little like Field of Dreams, if your stuff is good enough, ‘they will come’
  2. Black hats can still win. Bought, exchanged and otherwise unnaturally acquired links still work, and can win great SERPs positions. But they’re more risky than ever. If you want to build a proper brand, something people trust, it’s best to play nice instead of having to change your url every time you get burned and lose valuable brand equity
  3. Social – if you’re not in it, you can’t win it. But just being in it isn’t enough. You need to measure the effectiveness – or not – of your social channels in the same way as you measure cost per response, cost per conversion, creative versus creative, ROI and so on for any other medium, online or offline

Cold callers get a taste of their own medicine 

As a human being, I hate telesales calls. As an ex-marketer I once project managed large scale inbound campaigns tied into direct response TV ads, which was such fun. We made a fortune. I also arranged outbound campaigns, a lot less enjoyable for the operators, marketers and punters. They also worked a treat. But, cold or warm, outbound B2C teleselling is rarely good karma. It’s invasive, time consuming and irritating. Which is why I love this little story.

Leeds man Lee Beaumont was being plagued by cold calls. So he set up his own 0871 number at a cost of twelve quid. Everyone who tried to sell him something ended up paying for the privilege, and he has made more than £300 profit so far. Nice.

Facebook addicts given electric shock treatment

Hooked on Facebook? Help is at hand in the shape of Pavlov Poke, a system that gives addicts a short, sharp electric shock through their keyboard once they exceed a pre-set time limit on the network.

It won’t kill you. But apparently it hurts enough to act as a deterrent. If that doesn’t curb your social excesses, you can use the system to recruit a crowd worker on Mechanical Turk, who will phone up and yell at you every time you weaken.

Spooky time travel in the tube

New scientist magazine, my favourite weekly geek read, reports a sign in London’s tube network offering ‘real time travel updates’. They wonder where the missing hyphen should go. Should it be:

  1. real-time travel updates
  2. or real time-travel updates

I vote for number two. It sounds much more exciting.

No issues with the Big Issue 

Brighton is full of Big Issue sellers. I buy a copy every week. With at least one book permanently on the go and New Scientist to digest, I rarely get round to reading The Issue. But whenever I do I’m impressed all over again with the quality of the journalism, the warm tone and refreshingly human outlook. A splendid read and, for anyone who wants to absorb the fine art of elegant, plain English communications, excellent reference material.

A simple copywriting tip for the perfect article structure

If you’re struggling to structure an article and you’ve been to sixth form college or uni, the answer is at your fingertips. Structure your article in exactly the same way you’d create an essay and you’re more or less there.

TK Maxx logic fail

Observant (aka pernickerty)  bargain hunters are lost in space trying to decode TK Maxx’s latest price promise: always up to 60% less. How does that work, then?!

Crazy mis-types

My new keyboard means mis-types are mostly a thing of the past. I kind of miss them. But here are five that slipped through.

  • house pants (plants)
  • pertnership (partnership)
  • sosmelly pirates (Somali)
  • communters (commuters)
  • open and shit case (open and shut!)

Absolutely enormous

This one has bugger all to do with marketing or copywriting. But it’s such a remarkable thing I can’t resist including it. Apparently the very clever Jonathan Bamber and colleagues at the University of Bristol have discovered a huge canyon under the ice smothering Greenland… and it’s bigger than the Grand Canyon.

The feature measures an astounding 750km,compared to the US offering’s comparatively farty 446km. And it plunges as deep as 800m.

Now that’s what I call large.

Better still, it’s entirely possible there’s something equally huge, another hidden mega-landscape, under the Antarctic’s southern ice cap, with hints of an unfeasibly massive mountain range.

More silly mis-types for a wet and windy Friday

| April 5, 2013

bright pink wired keyboard and mouseMy new keyboard is on the way. Which is good news when a week of sticky-key-generated mis-types delivered this lot! 

  • Put your money where your moth is (put your money where your mouth is)
  • guest posy (guest post)
  • poop-up shop (pop-up shop)
  • no stings attached (no strings attached)
  • lost conversions (loft conversions)

Obviously spell-checkers don’t pick these up, which makes proof reading a really important part of my everyday copywriting life. Mis-types are often difficult to spot, partly because I’m expecting to see the right word and have read and re-read the same passage countless times during the writing process. And partly because my familiarity with the context and content makes my brain automatically correct them. Which means I’m temporarily word-blind.

To make sure I catch everything, I put each completed piece of work aside until I’ve finished the next one, then I go back and check it one more time. At which point the mistakes suddenly shine through.

Fresh, clear copywriting from the Yellow Dog Project

| March 13, 2013

Now and again a copywriter creates something absolutely splendid. This is one of those times: a mini-triumph of clarity, charm and practicality, and a really beautiful piece of work. Whoever wrote this, I salute you.

Thanks to the Yellow Dog Project, whose site includes this smashing image. It’s a great idea too, so pass it on.

The Yellow Dog Project