Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘copywriting

Breaking the rules

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the_thinkerIf you’re in marketing, you probably have a good sense of what you think works well for your clients. In college, I had a professor tell me that the client’s name should be mentioned a minimum of 3 times in a TV spot. David Ogilvy once professed that we should be selling in frame one and don’t stop until the message is done.

These “hard and fast” rules may not apply for every spot or every situation. How often do you see a TV spot on air that doesn’t let you know the client or product being pitched until into the spot?

Today, the fad seems to be to tell the viewer that you can relate to their predicament, spend time talking about how they’ve been around forever and will continue to be, and only at the end do we know who “they” are. One of the best examples of this type of advertising concept might be from Allstate Insurance. If you’ve seen their recent ads, then you know the actor Dennis Haysbert is their spokesman. If you can get past thinking he’s either Jonas Blane (“The Unit”) or David Palmer (“24”), then once he’s on your screen, you know you’re watching an Allstate ad. What if you don’t? As you’re watching the spot, he’s not talking about insurance products or coverage. He’s talking about you and your family. He’s talking about the economy. Only well into the spot does he start to tie the company to the conversation.

Clever and masterful. But yet, if the copywriters at the agency were in my copywriting class in college, they would have gotten an ‘F’. This isn’t so much an indictment on my school as it is illustrative of how school is the time to learn the rules. The real world is the time to learn how to break them properly.

What are your “hard and fast” rules when developing your marketing messages? When is it appropriate to break them?

Written by Jeff York

March 8, 2009 at 11:31 pm

The three R’s: Writin’, writin’, and writin’

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In a previous post, I talked about the importance of reading other’s writing.  In business, math is essential.  But this week, I want to talk about the other R we learned about in school.

Writing.

This week, I had a chance to have lunch with a writer.  She’s not a published writer as yet, but her work that I’ve read is exceptional.  The experience served as both a beacon of hope that some young people do have the capacity to generate amazing copy and as a reminder that many of the best marketing concepts come from looking at a situation with a different angle.  Her writing does just that.  For example, when talking about snowboarding, she writes “It’s like suicide without the death.”

If you haven’t stopped just now and considered the deliciousness of that statement before reading this sentence, then you simply don’t appreciate good writing.

But thus far this week, I’ve been asking you to read.  Yet, this blog entry is called writing.  What’s the deal?

I believe that writing forces us to look at things from a different angle.  And different writing styles and goals do that differently.  Technical writing causes technically minded individuals to translate that information into something we can all understand.  Copywriting focuses language into pinpoint accuracy to cause another to act on our suggestions.  Without superior writing ability, your message is weak or gets lost.

When writing copy for your business, do you keep in mind your audience?  Does the tone of the writing match your type of business and the type of customer you’re trying to attract?  What are some of the things you keep in mind when writing copy?

Written by Jeff York

August 3, 2008 at 12:36 pm