Brochure Copywriters – Are They A Lost Tribe?

Brochure Copywriters – Are They A Lost Tribe?

COPYWRITING SHORTS #106 You won’t find many copywriters up the Orinoco. Then again, the locals’ need for printed brochures probably isn’t what it was. (That’s assuming of course that online marketing has permeated rain forests far and wide.)   You’ll certainly see many examples of online brochures here in the UK. Their offline cousins are still in play, but they’ve been relegated to a more supportive role in the marketing mix. It wasn’t always thus. Right up to the 1990s, B2B companies used suites of brochures to flag-up their product ranges. Holiday companies churned out door-stopping editions to cater for every season, whilst estate agents could always be relied upon to excel in the brochure department. Nowadays, you’re more likely to see brochures as PDF attachments. Many of the same offline copywriting skills are used – not to mention the stock photography and graphics which have always been the minimal mainstay of a half-way decent brochure. What were once regarded as ‘sales aids’ in their printed format are now very much an adjunct to a company’s website. Having a capacity to go into great detail on any particular topic has always been a great strength of brochures. For example, you can always get a feel for an attractive property for sale on the Rightmove website. For a full-cream version, however, there’s no substitute for a well-produced printed brochure. Plenty of marketing people overlook the power of brochures, hence the latter-day put down of purely informative websites as being merely ‘brochure sites’. And yet, they’ve always been a tangible treasure you could whip out – anytime, anywhere (to paraphrase Martini!).... Read more...
Skyscrapers or Bungalows? How Dense Can You Get?

Skyscrapers or Bungalows? How Dense Can You Get?

We’ve all heard the joke about ‘Bungalow Bill’, the well-endowed lover who doesn’t have much upstairs. What we don’t hear much about is how the single-storey staple of 1960s house builders became a virtual laughing stock barely half a century later.     Instructive in understanding this phenomenon is to look back, not so much in anger, but in suspended disbelief. When it came to house building in the 60s, Britain dreamed big. It also dreamed gentle. The competing notions of thrusting modernistic tower blocks conflicted culturally with sedate single-level bungalows. In those days, of course, there wasn’t the same pressure to build as many homes as possible on whatever land was available. Housing density simply wasn’t an issue. Having said that, the idealism that reigned in some local authority quarters made a massive impact. ‘Building high’ came straight out of Central Planning where town hall apparatchiks had likely gorged on too much Aldous Huxley. Bungalows, on the other hand, were for dreamers of a different ilk – earnest, almost-middle-class types, fattened on a televisual feast of stateside colonial clapboard and a picket-fenced Stepford Wives utopia. Fast forward 60 years where we inhabit another world. Today, the multi-storey concrete-slab temples of Bauhaus-inspired civic pride are hugely discredited – despite still featuring prominently in urban planning future-scapes. For totally different reasons, the bungalow (on the face of it) looks like a spent shilling. To confirm its apparent indigence as a design concept, the National House Building Council tells us that only one per cent of homes built in the UK in 2014 were bungalows.   Why So? It wasn’t always... Read more...
Copywriting – The Champion of Change

Copywriting – The Champion of Change

‘Change’ is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment. You’ll probably hear it whispered in the same breath as Brexit. The good news is: business will always adapt to economic change – and, as the handmaiden of marketing, copywriting will never be far behind. For copywriters, ‘change’ is a way of life. First came the Internet; then Google; then SEO. All of these changes, and more, transformed the world of copywriting in little more than a decade. In this context, Brexit is little more than a blip. Dare it be said: the word ‘opportunity’ has even been heard in some quarters!   ‘Opportunity’ Is The Brexit Keyword The enforced changes we all have to face in the post-Brexit era will bring new and unexpected opportunities for those who are ready to exploit them. In the world of business, that means new and improved marketing. In the world of marketing, it means persuasive copywriting, inviting content and innovative channels that will best bring piggy to market. Bear in mind that this is a new scenario where consumers’ pockets could well be raided by a depleted pound, rising inflation and a receding economy. With a little judicious aforethought, however, copywriting will stand out as the most flexible tool for achieving marketing success. New opportunities exist in new markets. For existing customers, fresh approaches can be devised to out-strip the competition. Anyone who runs or manages a business will be on the lookout for OPPORTUNITY. And although the dust has far from settled on the UK’s rapidly evolving political and economic landscape, those who are prepared to take measured risks will... Read more...
Does Content Marketing Take Too Much Time?

Does Content Marketing Take Too Much Time?

The Internet is drowning in a sea of content – and the main culprit has to be so-called ‘content marketing’… The first-fruits of this come-lately type of marketing are supposed to be enhanced SEO/SERPs results; establishing yourself as an ‘expert’ in your field; and providing visitors to your website with the type of useful information that will encourage them to re-visit the site and/or share the content on social media. No-one could argue that these are laudable aims with tangible benefits. Everyone gains and this kind of activity earns valuable SEO brownie points from the search engines, whilst also validating their raison d’etre. One of the major problems with content marketing, however, is that an ‘average’ company will run out of the content that meets Google’s criteria for original, useful material in a relatively short space of time. Creating quality content – regularly! To produce content on a regular basis, so many companies are forced into dredging up sub-standard material from within their own industry or re-cycling material that’s already in the public domain. The net effect of this is the deluge of ‘me-too’ stuff that no-one really wants to read. It helps of course if you have a copywriter or marketing agency to come up with new and useful content, but you may well be left wondering about how many ways there are to skin a cat. For companies who may not want to invest in professional content creators, and for those who are sceptical about the ROI for these activities, there is always the DIY route. As everyone knows, ‘content’ is all around us – potentially… and... Read more...

Travel Copywriting for All-inclusive Holidays

  Does anyone really care whether all-inclusive holidays come with a bag-full of issues?  Or is it simply the case that you either love ’em or hate ’em?  For copywriters who are involved with the marketing of ‘all-inclusives’, these are real challenges that mean you’re starting off on the wrong foot.  In short, the issues focus on the perception that these ‘sunshine centres’ are in some way down-market (even though most are in fantastic locations with amazing facilities). There is also the claim that all-inclusive holidays drain the local economy of much-needed tourist revenue (because everything ‘touristic’ goes on behind the tour operator’s closed doors). Again, this is debatable because hotels of every type – in every location – tend to be self-contained, with a range of services that will maximise their income.   Overcoming Misconceptions Given that certain people view all-inclusives with a jaundiced eye, how can copywriters overcome these points of prejudice? As with all copywriting projects, it’s important to ‘get under the skin’ of your prospects.  It is of course difficult when someone doesn’t like the idea of being part of a large group where they feel their individuality has been compromised in some way. It’s even more difficult when someone takes the snobbish view that they’re likely to be rubbing shoulders with the ‘wrong sort’ (similar to the way British holiday camps such as Butlin’s and Pontin’s were viewed in the post-war period). It’s clear that all-inclusives have their own set of marketing challenges to overcome.  A travel copywriter’s superlatives and honeyed USPs will fall some way short of the mark. In common with all... Read more...

Debt – The Silent Assassin

  “History is splattered with the broken dreams of debtors.  Debt kills hope, invites despair, anxiety and ongoing hardship.  Silently.”    The Victorians punished debt.  Today, debt is a way of life for millions.  It’s well hidden – but scratch the surface and see what you get… Debt isn’t always about greed, or naïveté – or even crass stupidity.  It can be about misfortune, ill health, bad luck, bad timing – call them ‘hard luck stories’ if you will. Debt shatters lives.  In the old days, harsh punishments were meted out, in part to humiliate, but also to deter others who may have had the temerity to dice with the dangers of LSD (pound, shillings and pence, that is). Debt Is Punishing Anyone who’s been in serious debt will know that the anxieties and animosities it generates are punishment enough in themselves.  In today’s world, loan sharks take no prisoners; payday loan companies (until the Financial Conduct Authority stepped in recently) added insult to injury by compounding the interest on small debts to unmanageable levels; whilst credit card companies and their ilk have an awesome array of legal options to make a ‘pinned-out rat’ of anyone who transgresses. In the old days, people like Oscar Wilde were thrown into debtors’ prison.  Others, for a variety of reasons, ended up in the workhouse, grim Victorian institutions that gave fulsome meaning to having to ‘sing for your supper’. Members of today’s ‘Benefit Street’ underclass don’t know they’re born.  State beneficence – misguided or not – ensures that the original ‘safety net’ of the ‘cradle-to-grave’ Welfare State and the post-war Bevan era... Read more...