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October 22, 2011Stop thinking about straplines. Start thinking about throughlines.

A subtle, persuasive through line will enable your customers to think they’re making choices for themselves, rather than being told what to think. Here's how to get it right.

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February 28, 2011No more big ideas: why digital agencies are small and scientific

I started my first blog, a Livejournal, in late 1999. Back then, the word “blog” didn’t even exist.

Twelve years ago, I never could have predicted I’d have a successful career using the same techniques I learned while writing teenage ramblings for my friends. Yet here I am.

I guess I’ve always been an early adopter. Yet it never ceases to amaze me that there are people out there who still don’t understand the value of digital.

The ad industry is changing, whether you like it or not.

I read this fascinating piece on the future of advertising after it …

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February 21, 2011If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I never cease to be amazed by the stupidity of very smart people: unfortunately, hard experience has taught me that business sense and marketing sense very rarely mix.

Of course really smart businessmen hire marketing professionals — because they realise they’re good at making money, not at selling things.

They don’t think hey, I can manage a million dollar business so I can write a strapline, they think — hey, I’m smart enough to manage a million dollar business, which means I can afford to pay a professional to write my strapline.

KFC, in the UK at least, is changing

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February 3, 2011How to apply David Ogilvy’s sales technique to web copy

I’ve spoken before about how much I rate Tom Albrighton’s work as a copywriter. I’m also a fan of Ben Locker, in Colchester (Glad you’re not in London, Ben!). What have these two guys got in common? They’re both big fans of the “father of modern advertising,” David Ogilvy. So much so, in fact, that Ben recently produced a long-copy print ad in Ogilvy’s style as an experiment, testing whether or not long copy works. Well, I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is, too.

Who the hell is David Ogilvy?

Well, first things first, let’s be …

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October 31, 2010Power Snooker – a successful product launch.

As regular readers of my blog know, I’m a big snooker fan. Snooker is a quiet, slow, complicated cue sport played in auditoriums so silent you could hear a pin drop. Power snooker is played on the same table, but other than that, everything’s different.

A year ago I suggested that snooker had an image problem and that bringing back a ‘game show’ format like Big Break could rejuvenate interest in the sport and allow the players to show off their personalities. The launch of Power Snooker at London’s O2 Arena seems to have taken a similar direction, taking …

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September 6, 2010Does an advert have to be good to be effective?

What makes an effective ad campaign — and can these principles be applied to social media?

It’s impossible to avoid being bombarded with advertising in London. As a copywriter working in London, it’s even harder to not stop and take notice. Like a surgeon holding his knife like a scalpel and listlessly cutting into his Sunday roast, it’s hard for a copywriter to avoid dissecting other people’s work.

I see thousands of posters every morning. Sometimes the copy is good, sometimes it’s very bad. Sometimes it’s short and sometimes it’s long. Sometimes, I’m only looking at an idea, three words, …

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September 1, 2010Does Long Copy Work?

How effective is long copy?

The London Long Copy challenge is underway. For those of you who haven’t seen the ads yet, it’s a competition for copywriters and creatives based in London to design London Underground posters led by copy of between 50-200 words. Which isn’t much for a sales brochure, but it’s a hell of a lot for a great big print ad.

Who reads sales brochures anyway?

There are two schools of thought in copywriting. One: you get a little information in quickly. It’s better than trying to get it all in and not being memorable at all. …

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August 8, 2010Copywriting for SMEs – should you change your game?

Every client is different. Fact. Some clients want you to make their business look young and dynamic, attracting investors. Other clients want you to make their latest product offering sound irresistible — to the right people, of course. But what all clients have in common is that they’re looking for you to improve on reality in some way — to take a story and tell it better. That’s the name of the game.

When you’re dealing with SMEs and start-ups, companies that don’t have much of an image yet, companies with products you probably haven’t heard of, the temptation is …

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July 19, 2010Simplicity risks repetition

Every good copywriter knows that simplicity is the secret to success. Getting the message across quickly and effectively is what copywriting is all about. I’ve had clients come to me with briefs for 4,000 word sales brochures. That’s longer than some undergraduate dissertations at university. “Who’s going to read 4,000 words,” I ask? The client looks dumbstruck. He’s even more amazed when I come up with a 100 word sales pitch that tells the customer everything they’ll ever need to know.

Simple Sales Copy

A brief description, followed by a call to action. That’s as much as most sales copy …

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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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