Control...and the lack of


“The best moment of tonight? When I saw my mother. I told her the goals were for her”  -Mario 

Cuore di mamma



“The best moment of tonight? When I saw my mother. I told her the goals were for her”  -Mario 

Cuore di mamma

Report Writing

Report writing

I’ve just finished writing a report for the wonderful Jonas Vebner who runs the London office for Music Export Norway. Love it. Meetings, telephone interviews, focus groups, surveys, research and plenty of long, hard thinking. Extracting the sentiments, the evidence, the threads and pulling it all together is a clear, digestible format. A document to shine a light, help inform positive decision making and map a successful future as well as simply acting as a mirror.

And the way to get the most from report writing?

  • Define the purpose of the report.
  • Clearly identify the readership.
  • Establish crystal clear objectives.
  • Apply thoroughly considered research.
  • Make sure you’re asking the right people the right questions.
  • Apply clear and organised report structure.
  • Order in Report Order Read?
    Executive Summary – The gist of the report. The report at a glance. 6 Always
    Content – Should list the main sections, subsections and appendices with page numbers. 7 N/A
    Introduction – The ‘who’ the ‘why’ the scope and the objective. 1 Sometimes
    Findings/Main Body – Your detailed facts and findings. 3 Usually
    Conclusions – Considered judgements based on the main body. Don’t include any information that isn’t already in the main body. 4 Usually
    Recommendations – Follows on from and is based on the conclusions. If the report has been well put together the recommendations will read as a natural extension to the conclusions. 5 Nearly always
    Bibliography/Sources – List relevant research and any necessary further reading. Include details of interviewees or focus group attendees as appropriate. 2 – Write as you research If the report indicates further research is necessary
    Appendices – detailed support information. Rarely
    Title Page – Keep it simple, keep it clear. Usually

    If you are looking for clear insight, to get under the skin of a challenge, an opportunity, to reveal wider, deeper perspectives, information that can make a material difference to your business… call me.

    Posted via email from | Comment »


Bitches be styling.


    Bitches be styling.

    Brilliant Sales Copywriting – The Groupon way
    Shiny Happy People Selling Stuff Great sales copywriting has driven worldwide success for Groupon

    You’re by now probably aware of Groupon. No? It’s a group-buying website out of Chicago since 2008. Now running in nearly 40 UK towns and cities the company advertises limited deals on behalf on various businesses. Different offers each day covering things such as meal deals, visit to local attractions such as zoos or theme parks, tennis coaching and other personal instruction, massages, spa breaks, hotel visits, cinema tickets, sunglasses etc. The popularity of group buying and voucher based marketing has gone through the roof over the last year or so. 35 million users in more than 300 local markets (Manchester copywriters prepared to work for very little take note) says one thing and one thing only – ‘kerching’ . Groupon is storming it. With Businessweek reporting that the company is in line to make as much as $500 million this year there’s little surprise that Google in their pursuit of ‘local’ have recently put in a $6 billion bid for the company. An offer rejected by Groupon’s owners. It’s not just Google who are smitten by deep discounts and daily deals. Earlier this month Amazon invested $175 million in

    In short – Internet voucher sites are the hot ticket. Groupon the hottest. How come?

    What has turned Groupon from Charles Hawtrey into Georges St Pierre in the blink of a barmaid? Ninja business skills? Tendulkar like timing? An ancient Mesopotamian blessing? Pleeeease somebody stop me… The art of the copywriter

    The answer … as both of you reading this copywriting blog have probably guessed… is… copywriting (did my ‘art of the copywriter’ header give it away?). Whether you are HBO, 23, slightly ‘wacky’ and love their style guide, or not, you have to give Groupon credit for their efforts in delivering a consistent voice. For taking a step back and applying their own techniques and copy editing style guide . And much of what they have to say is refreshingly… fresh. Take this example from their Narrative Point of View section in the Voice Guide. Minimize the use of the 2nd person. Sometimes using the 2nd person is easily avoidable, and sometimes it’s highly useful (ex: the deal sentence). If you write a sentence in the 2nd person, and then discover that you could just as easily remove the “you’s” and “your’s” without using the passive voice and it still reads naturally, do that. When you do use the 2nd person, make sure to spread it out. Consecutive sentences specifically addressing the reader generally feel grating.

    The 2nd person is often very useful for clearly describing what the customer’s experience will be like, especially for complicated deals. (EX: After your studio portraits are developed, you’ll have the option to mix and match your different poses and choose between 6 different print options.). It’s when the 2nd person is used in a more creative context and with a voice that assumes too much familiarity with the reader that it can sound like traditional marketing copy. Don’t assume familiarity with the reader. Example of Groupon Voice violation from a golf deal:
    Go ahead. Be a Tiger. —  Even if this were funnier than it is, you haven’t earned that level of intimacy with the reader, and they’re likely to not respond to it. You are not the reader’s pal.

    Boss! The Traditional Marketing Clichés and Crutches To Avoid advice is oozing (oops…”Even saying “ooze” will set people off”) with plenty more advice. As a copywriter the whole of the Editorial Manual is well worth a right royal nose through.

    If you have already experienced Groupon you will likely know that over exposure will soon leave your wit a bit of a gooey mess. As sick as an Australian cricket fan. The law of diminishing marginal utility crushing Groupon’s ‘humour’ under the weight of its own ‘humour’. Like watching 9 episodes of Family Guy back to back. If you haven’t been through the wardrobe yet check it out – it’s well worth a quick visit – especially if you are keen on heavily discounted massages or turkish delight.
    Image borrowed from

    Posted via email from | Comment »

    Copywriting Rules

    The only copywriting rule here is that there aren’t any copywriting rules. Nonsense.

    Rules give us context, they are glue, the common ground, the ways and the means that values… have value. They offer relationship and relativity. An axis, a framework. Whether we know them in detail or only share a vague familiarity, they join the dots, paint the backdrop. A ruleless world would be terrible. No pricks to kick against. No ‘man’ to stick it to. Tension’s essential. Essential tension. Think Prince post Warners. Cantona released from football’s prism.

    Bend them, break them, ignore them, follow them to the letter. Rules do serve the purpose of preventing a listless, dull anarchy.

    Smart players understand this. They study the rules, learn them. They work with them, weave in and out of them, they bend rules to their will and to their advantage. They ignore them. “I hate rules,” writes original Madman UK copywriter David Ogilvy on the cover of Ogilvy On Advertising. How about this from Bill Bernbach? “Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula.”

    There’s a copywriter called Ben Settle – to other copywriters who have a strongly rule driven approach to their writing the guy is a monster. He’ll miss-spell, swear, riff and street talk his way to wherever he needs to go without the slightest regard for convention. ‘Rools are for fools’ he says. A ‘contrarian marketer’, he’s got my ear. Drayton Bird has name checked him recently too so he must be doing something right.

    What about other norms? Other conventions, perceived wisdoms or intuitives?

    Here’s one area constantly under debate – productivity. Spotify on? Spotify off?

    Dave Johnson on Bnet wrote an article recently based around the idea of using counter intuitive approach to be more productive.

    Stop scheduling your day he says: “ A little randomness and unpredictability can be invigorating… work without a wire.”

    Open yourself to distractions. The old, ‘a work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, line. Be open to creativity.

    Ignore the work-life balance. If you really enjoy what you do for a living then go for it. Time out for the sake of it can be stressful. The worst of both worlds. Take strength and inspiration from your passion.

    What do you do that’s counter-intuitive yet successful for you? That goes against the grain.

    What rules do you break?

    Posted via email from | Comment »

    Death Defying Copywriting Genius

    Above is Don Draper’s open letter to the New York Times…

    Death defying copywriting.  Classic “He didn’t dump me; I dumped him,” getting your retaliation in first copywriting. Agency copywriting at its most audacious, it’s boldest and brilliant best.

    Don……. we have ignition.

    Steffan Postaer and his contributors sum up the episode insightfully on his Gods of Advertising blog. Check out Jon Steinberg’s post too plus loads of comment and geeky analysis over at the Guardian season 4, episode 12 page.

    How good?

    Posted via email from | Comment »

    The NOMEX Project

    From copywriting slogans to Google Adwords to SEO services, freelance copywriting takes on all shapes and sizes and locations.

    Based in Manchester, copywriting services tend to be focused either in the North West, Cheltenham (where I’m originally from) or London (copywriting often offering a ‘remote option). It’s not just UK copywriting projects that I get involved in though. Here’s a link to – It’s just gone up on line. Time and/or inclination willing, take a look. It’s a beaut.  Over the last year it’s stood out as one of my favourite pieces of copywriting.

    London digital music intelligence company Music Ally, commissioned me to write the report for the Nordic Music Export offices with the aim of identifying common export goals and ways in which a united effort could best help achieve them. The report is currently being reviewed by the Nordic Council.

    As well as interviewing 22 of the top movers and shakers from across the region (if you need to record Skpye interviews check out G-recorder – it’s fab), I was fortunate enough to attend a two day meeting in Helsinki.  Discussing the project in detail with the export office directors in person was an absolute pleasure. Fabulous, fabulous people, one and all.

    Here’s the conclusion of the conclusion

    What is a great band or death-defying song writing if it isn’t alchemy? Isn’t art all about an indefinable chemistry that reveals unpredictable and inspirational emergent properties? Isn’t business on the other hand ALL about maximising the consequences of inspiration to the best financial effect, to your best advan­tage? It’s about turning creative capital into financial capital to perpetuate the artistic process – establishing a virtuous circle powered by inspiration and desire.

    NOMEX has great potential to deliver on both creative and commercial counts. Taking the power of that disparate inspiration scattered throughout the boardrooms, bed­rooms, rehearsal rooms, studios, laptops and imaginations of music creatives all across Scandinavia and turning it into a powerful intra-national, international voice. A consolidat­ed banner that irresistibly proclaims – we are here, we are now, we are great – listen to us, love the music we make.

    The iron is hot. Strike it.

    Anna, Paulina, Inger, Anders, Thomas, Gunnar and Gunnar…. the best of British Nordic with it.

    More power to NOMEX.

    Posted via email from | Comment »

    Link baiting lessons from Lyndon

    Copywriting for copywriting’s sake? Rarely. There’s usually some sort of motivation behind it. To inform perhaps, to entertain, the share, to kick up a stink and bait the audience into firing a few links in your direction perhaps.

    What better way than by a ritual sacrifice? Last week SEO was dispatched in favour of SMO (social media optimisation) by Ben Elowitz whose SEO Is Dead, And The New King Is ‘SMO’ has gathered no less than 1848 Tweets and 809 Facebook shares at the time of writing.

    “What is this Nimrod really after?” wrote Lyndon Antcliff on the Econsultancy article based on the Elowitz article and entitled SEO is dead – again, observing: “… if the intent of the article was to get a link from accuracy in the argument is sometimes not the intent of the writer/publisher/blogger.”

    Well he did get a link from Econsultancy. And Lyndon, simply for saying it like it is and especially for using the word ‘Nimrod‘ gets one from me. Who’s going to give me a link I wonder?

    Posted via email from | Comment »

    Google’s Insightful SEO copywriting tool

    Selecting the right kinds of SEO keywords and keyword phrases is important. Get them wrong and you’re Vicky Pollard chatting with the Queen – you’re Lester Burnham on the pull, you’re Paul and Yoko. It’s not going to work out.

    You need to talk in a language that your audience understands. More importantly you need to use the language they us - to share their ‘semantic space’. Smart keyword research gets right under the semantic skin, explores and identifies a whole range of useful words and phrases. Sure, there are the obvious generic terms that you can and probably should use but the chances are that they’ll be highly competitive on organic searches and highly expensive when it comes to PPC.

    For real SEO breadth and depth you need to get lateral, to granularize. Spend little time exploring the crooks and nannies. See what they tell you.

    They’ll probably suggest using Google Insights. It’s a great SEO tool. A way of quickly and easily identifying what terms are being searched for, when and where. It’s… insightful SEO. Google itself says -

    'With Google Insights for Search, you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. '

    Have a play, check out this SEO Google SEO vid or take  a look at this excellent Google Insights tutorial

    I did a quick search on the term SEO for 2010 and drilled down by location to find Manchester. Interestingly SEO Manchester comes out third ahead of SEO London. Possibly even more interestingly the top two locations were Bletchley and Brentford (anyone know why?).

    Here are the top SEO search terms:

    1. SEO Google
    2. Web SEO
    3. SEO UK
    4. Website SEO
    5. Free SEO
    6. SEO London
    7. SEO marketing
    8. SEO tools
    9. SEO Wordpress
    10. Wordpress SEO

    Even better than that Google Insights lists ‘Rising Searches’:

    1. Google keyword +80%
    2. Keyword tool +70%
    3. Search engine optimization +70%
    4. Wordpress SEO plugin +60%
    5. SEO tutorial +50%
    6. Webmaster tools +40%
    7. SEO checker +40%
    8. SEO optimization +40%
    9. Wordpress +40%

    Seek the keyword heat and make good things happen.

    Do you use Google Insights? Thoughts?

    Thanks to Triplezero for the Flickr image

    Posted via email from | Comment »