How distinctive tone of voice can set a brand apart

December 10th, 2013

I’ve been helping a new luxury lifestyle brand to develop its tone of voice and positioning. The website has recently gone live and among other things it includes an article I wrote that redefines what Bath offers visitors – both now and 250 years ago. Read the piece here.

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3 things to remember if you’re marketing to 18 to 24-year-olds

October 28th, 2013

The Youth 100 is a survey of what brands young people like (and dislike) and why. It provides plenty of interesting insights, but three key points stood out for me.

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Beware nouns made from verbs

September 24th, 2013

Shakespeare was great at turning nouns into verbs. He turned the noun ‘dog’ into a beautifully expressive verb: ‘Destruction shall dog them at their heels’. Unfortunately, businesses today like doing the opposite.

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Sell the benefits not the features. Really?

August 30th, 2013

It’s classic marketing advice: tell them about benefits, not just features. Sell them the sizzle, not the steak. Explain what it means to them and their lives, not just what it actually is. But is the classic advice true?

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Top techniques for dealing with a complaint

July 24th, 2013

Negative messages are among the hardest to write. Things like letting people know their delivery is going to arrive late, or responding to a justified complaint. But there are plenty of ways you can make the recipient feel better, and plenty of ways to make them feel worse. Best to stick to the former. Here’s how.

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Negative power words to avoid

June 28th, 2013

A further thought on the dangers of negative messages, as explored in the last blog post. There we were talking about the difference it makes to rephrase a message in a positive way. But there’s more. Certain words have an extra powerful negative impact, and it’s worth sensitising your awareness of them.

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The danger of planting negative ideas (or rather: The amazing power of positive ideas)

May 21st, 2013

I once once wrote some copy for a recruitment company that went something like: ‘You don’t want a long list of the wrong people. You want the right person first time.’ The MD told me it had to change. It turned out he had previously been a professional hypnotist.

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Key question: what are we actually saying here?

April 26th, 2013

When I’m working with someone to improve some copy they’ve written – for example a marketing manager at a medium-sized business – the question I’m most likely to ask is: ‘What are you actually saying here?’ Because people have a terrible habit of obscuring the message as soon as they sit down to write it.

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The power of web content with a distinct message

March 20th, 2013

Bristol design agency Robson Dowry have just launched their new website and, unusually for a design agency, the copy takes the lead. I’m particularly pleased because I wrote the site’s content. It’s an interesting example of focusing very hard on what you should be saying, and then saying it calmly and clearly.

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Kill the ings (or how to add instant impact to your headlines)

February 12th, 2013

So many organisations seem to love headlines like this: ‘Helping you out’, ‘Putting you in control’, ‘Working for a better tomorrow’, ‘Giving something back’, ‘Operating on autopilot’ (OK, I lied about the last one).

Why do they love them so much?

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