BBC iWonder, falling in love and more…

It’s time for a few more mini marketing-related snippets…  

More marketing and copywriting-related snippets

The oddest things strike a chord. Here are some disparate bits and bobs that dinged my marketing bell this weekend.

Falling in love again – Masterful written communications

Have you ever been conscious of the exact moment you fell in love with a book? I’ve just fallen head over heels with Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. There I was chugging along nicely, loving the plot, when I was hit so hard by a single sentence I was suddenly lost in wonder. Here it is:
“Was Olivia enclosed somewhere, under a floor, in the earth? No more than a tiny pile of leveret-thin bones waiting to be found.”
It was the ‘tiny pile of leveret-thin bones’ that did it. In case you didn’t know, a leveret is a baby hare. Hares have fascinated humans for millennia, often-revered, always mysterious, sometimes uncanny. Leveret bones are beautifully fine and delicate. Using the simile in the context of a missing three year old girl is almost unbearably poignant, a masterful connection rich in tenderness, grief, regret, horror and pity.
As a writer, reading is my greatest pleasure. And when I find something like this it spurs me on, inspiring me to greater things. It’s all very well being factual, revealing the features of a product or service. It’s important to add emotion. But if you can also make it read beautifully and make that powerful human connection, you’re really onto a winner.

BBC iWonder – A brilliant source of remarkable answers

Having seen it advertised on telly last night, I’ve just been exploring the new BBC iWonder website. How thrilling – the Beeb has gathered together a collection of fascinating questions, covering every imaginable subject, and provided equally interesting answers. If you’re ever stuck for blog subject matter, there’s bound to be something relevant on the site to inspire you, all neatly categorised.

  • arts
  • food
  • science
  • consumer
  • nature
  • history’
  • religion and ethics
  • webwise

Here’s a link to BBC iWonder.

Questions and answers – More than just a Q&A page

Q&A is a great format for putting across information succinctly. It’s an easy format for people to read and digest. And when you add a ‘read more’ link you can go into a lot more detail behind the scenes, perfect for visitors who want to explore the nitty gritty.
You don’t need to restrict your use of Q&A to a special Q&A page either. You can use it much more creatively, for example starting every web page with a one-line question and equally short answer, encapsulating the page’s message for visitors so they can get a feel for the page content at a glance. Or use three in your next newsletter to get a complex message across quickly and succinctly.

Super-simple LinkedIn lead generation tip

Freelance? The next time someone looks at your profile on LinkedIn, look at theirs. Assuming they’ve signed up for notifications, they’ll get an email telling them you’ve looked and you’ll pop back into their consciousness. The same goes if someone endorses you for a skill. Endorse someone back while you’re fresh in their mind and they may well end up contacting you for help with a project. It works for me…

The Marketplace of Attention – How Audiences Take Shape in a Digital Age by James Webster

Here’s my recommendation for a great new marketing-related book. According to the author, the internet isn’t the utopia many commentators make out. Webster reveals how a number of attractive theories about the way we use the web don’t tally with how we actually behave. If you’re concerned with how audiences develop preferences and how marketers, broadcasters and promoters cater for them, this one’s for you.
Essential reading for digital marketers, who are just as prone as anyone to picking up theories that don’t bear fruit in the real world, the book “provides a great platform from which to observe the endless mysteries and absurdities of human nature”. (New Scientist issue 2986 – 13th Sept 2014)

EU Cookie Law fail continues

A while ago I wrote about the real-life impact – or lack of it – of the Cookie Law, which forced site owners to pro-actively tell visitors about cookies. At the time the effect of all that expense and panic was… well, bugger all. It sank like a stone and, although plenty of sites still include a cookie warning, it’s pretty meaningless. So much so that the total number of public ‘concerns’ raised about cookies over the three month period April to June 2014 was just 38, as confirmed by the ICO.
At the same time the organisation received a whopping 47,000 or so complaints about unwanted marketing communications. It puts the EU cookie law into the shade, where it has belonged all along. It looks like people really don’t care about cookies. They never did. So what was all the fuss about, and why was it allowed to happen in the first place?
As experts at the time predicted, the whole cookie directive thing was a monstrous waste of time and worse, adversely affected people’s enjoyment of websites, especially the intrusive and over-prominent cookie law wording on smartphone screens. It still does. It’s about time common sense broke out and the law was repealed.

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