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June 20, 2010The Personality Test

No, I’m not going to make you take another stupid quiz.I’m about to let you in on a little secret. This is the most important question I ask my clients when I take on new work. I ask:

“If your website / company / brand was a person,
what sort of person would they be?”

Copywriters thrive on detail. Often, we’re given a brief for a site, design or company that lacks character. The client has come to us because they want our copy to provide that character. But without direction, all we can do is take a stab in …

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May 24, 2010Should you argue with your clients?

It’s the Don Draper effect. If you’ve seen Mad Men, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you work in this business, you know you’ve had to adapt. A couple of years ago, clients expected you to show up in jeans and t-shirt and a beard and they expected to tell you what to do. Now they expect you to show up clean-shaven, suited and booted, and ready to tell them how to run their business.

Mad Men is a pretty extraordinary show, not just because of the quality of the acting or the writing, but because it’s caused …

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May 15, 2010Facebook isn’t cool any more

I briefly touched on Facebook privacy issues in my last post, mentioning that I’d stripped all information out of my profile in response to my growing concerns about Facebook’s constant push to share more information publicly.

Facebook isn't cool any moreThere are a lot of so-called “social media experts” out there. The truth is there is no such thing. The majority of “social media experts” are simply people with regularly updated twitter feeds, a lot of friends on facebook they don’t really know, constantly bombarding you with requests to “like” their public page, which if you do will lead to further bombardment in …

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May 7, 2010Social media fails to make an impact on British politics

If you live in the UK you can’t have failed to notice there’s an election going on. I say going on, because for the first time in a generation, it hasn’t produced a decisive result in terms of forming a government. But that’s not the only area of indecision. Before the results were in, even leading political bloggers such as Iain Dale were reporting that the internet played a minimal role in the campaign — in stark contrast to many social media, marketing and web experts (including myself) who were confident this would be the UK’s first “internet election” with …

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May 3, 2010How do you decide on a “fair” price for a job?

This is a blog post about copywriting rates in the industry. I provide all inclusive quotes for work on a price-per-project basis. If you’re interested in finding out how much it costs to hire me, get in touch.

How much is fair?

Clients often ask me to explain my pricing structure. What are my copywriting rates? Do I charge by the word or page, or by the hour or day? Most importantly they want to know one thing — do I charge different clients different amounts for the same thing?

The short answer to that question is no. …

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April 23, 2010What makes a good strapline?

Straplines, headlines, taglines, slogans. Call them what you will, they’re what make the advertising world go round. It’s rare to find a good headline writer. That’s because headlines are hard to write. Anyone can fill a page with four hundred words, but how many people can catch an audience’s attention and sum up the product they’re selling in four or so words?

It’s more important to sound natural than to be clever.

F Scott Fitzgerald famously started out in advertising and came up with the slogan “we keep you clean in Muscatine” for an Iowa based laundry service. While he …

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April 17, 2010How to write sales-focused copy

I’ve written before about the difference between professional copy, and copy you’ve just written yourself. “Everyone who can speak English and read and write thinks they can be a copywriter,” I said. But they can’t. The question is — why? What does a professional copywriter do that you don’t?

A good copywriter writes sales-focused copy.

What does that mean? Well, here’s an example. Client A comes to me with Product A, and it’s the best product ever (so he thinks). He’s already come up with a great description of Product A to use on his website. But nobody’s buying.

Let’s …

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April 1, 2010Turning your weakness into strength

So, it’s April Fool’s Day. And along with the usual plethora of tech-related pranks (well documented by TechCrunch) this spoof by The Guardian really caught my eye. In my last post, I talked about negative campaigning in politics, and how only a campaign based on hard fact is good enough to go on the attack.

But how do you counter-attack a negative campaign?

The Guardian’s April Fools joke may point us in the right direction.

Gordon-Brown-campaign-pos-008

OK, so it’s an obvious spoof. But the article contains some real wisdom:

Brown aides had worried that his reputation for volatility might

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March 28, 2010Does negative campaigning work?

I’m following the impending general election in the UK with increasing interest. Some of you may remember I responded positively to the Conservative Party’s first campaign poster — a positive, aspirational message. Evidently, it didn’t work. It wasn’t so much this poster — which, regardless of what you thought of it, generated a lot of media interest giving a pretty good ROI in terms of press exposure — but the ones that followed. The general consensus is, they’re pretty limp:

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In fact, on seeing this poster, most people just say “what plans?” The Conservative Party are losing ground because although …

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March 25, 2010What’s the point of blogging?

My car is a bit of an unsung hero. I drive a beat up old Mercedes W202, and I probably love that car more than I’ve ever loved any woman. She’s never let me down and she’s no plans to leave me for a richer man. She’s survived two crashes where lesser cars have perished. Having said that, she’s looking a little rough around the edges these days and probably can’t do any better than the handsome young copywriter she’s currently hitched to.

Anyway, between personal, family and business reasons, I’ve clocked up several thousand miles in her this month. …

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