My mobile rang last Wednesday evening. ‘I got this postcard from you’ the voice said. It was a freelance web designer who needed a copywriter. ‘So what?’, you’re thinking. Well, the fact is I sent that postcard three years ago and this is the third query I got in the last six months even after getting a 25% response rate first time round. What was so special about this postcard?
There was a lad I went to school with many years ago who would begin at least one sentence every day in the school yard with the immortal words… “If you think that’s bad…”. No matter what story you told or experience you had, his was more extreme and more exciting. Think ‘Jay’ from ‘the inbetweeners’ with a strong midlands Irish accent and slightly less outlandish claims.
Yesterday morning a fundraising letter fell lightly through my post-box complete with a dusting of rapidly-melting snow. I opened the letter and waited for the first paragraph which would tell me what the problem was and how I could help. After reading that first paragraph, I was a little shocked….
You know who I’m talking about. Sometimes you think the only way they’ll use your product or service is if you don’t charge them and they double their income from it. They are cautious…very cautious. Every brochure or website they read is ‘marketing bluff’ and every word that comes out of your mouth is ‘just another sales pitch’.
But there’s one marketing tool they can’t argue with. One lead generator that’s so straight-talking and no-nonsense, they’ll feel like they’re talking to themselves.
My dad is not a big fan of direct mail. When I’m over at his house, he’ll gesture at some well crafted direct mail piece and with a well-aimed, good-natured grin in my direction, laugh at the pointlessness of it. One day I noticed something nestled neatly under the TV remote. ‘Is that a flyer?’ I asked triumphantly if in a slightly accusatory way. ‘You hung onto something that came in the door?’, I mocked. ‘That’s different’, he said defensively…that’s….
Research carried out by the Irish Times recently reported that Kerrygold holds a special place in the hearts of Germans. Respondents to a survey in the country were asked ‘what they think of when they think of Ireland’. A whopping 11% said ‘Kerrygold’. That’s 2% more than Irish music, another top quality export. While you may not have the brilliance or resources of Kerrygold’s marketing department, defining and delivering your message is a crucial ingredient in making sure your marketing communications carries real impact.
Last week, I was the victim of work-placed sexism. But because I am a man, nobody cares. I am, of course, very much joking….. and retelling an anecdote that deals with an issue that crops up now and again in the world of professional copywriting. Some people want a male copywriter for a male audience and a female writer for a female market. But an experienced writer can connect with any audience, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity.
Oh yeah – it’s all digital these days. That’s true, right? No, it’s not really. If you’re the sort of freak that’s not on Twitter or Facebook and still values the humble brochure, I can see why. But you can always be the freak who does both. While plenty of us walk around obsessing over little screens only waiting to be sold or influenced through social media and digital marketing, many do not. Outside of the digital media sector itself, there are still lots of folk who read brochures and make decisions based on what they see in a glossy or even DL. And it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
As a middle-aged rural Irish man, when I think of the woman that gave birth to me, she will only ever be ‘Mammy’ or maybe ‘Ma’. I have no objection to words like ‘Mum’ or ‘Mother’ but they are just words I never used or were never used in my family. We attach baggage to words they never need to carry. It’s up to marketers and copywriters to know what language is the right language.
I could have started this blog with ‘5 secrets those fat cats won’t tell you about writing a sales letter’ or‘Copywriting secrets that will make you €200k in six months’.
Those promises and headlines don’t do it for me or most people. I’ll take a more realistic approach and will give you guidelines from what I know works for me and my clients.