I keep a running list of blog post ideas. Now and again I cobble together a random post from leftover snippets.
It makes marketing sense to throw some variety into the blogging mix. If I trotted out long post after long post about the same old copywriting-related stuff, you’d soon get bored.
Here’s my latest collection of snippets, all either directly or loosely relevant to copywriting services, digital marketing and online life in general.
Content marketing, copywriting and tech stories
Wikipedia goes weird
I’ve used Wikipedia for years to track down reliable, accurate information about the subjects and industries I write about. But the past year I’ve been using it a lot less. The language they use is becoming denser by the month, with some entries so difficult to ‘get’ I give up and go somewhere else.
It isn’t meant to be a technical manual. Wiki’s job is to communicate. Good communication means being clear and accessible. But Wikipedia language isn’t always plain English. It’s often the opposite. It looks like some of Wiki’s editors are disappearing up their own backsides, having forgotten their core purpose and lost their grip on Wikipedia’s raison d’etre.
Calling Wikipedia editors and contributors: it isn’t about making yourself look clever and important. It’s about sharing information with ordinary people in a way we can all understand. I need your help to give the best possible copywriting service and I’d like the old Wikipedia back, the plain language one. U-turn, please!
Selling local? Be local
If you run a local business, it makes sense to create website and blog content that highlights your local-ness. It’s a great way to make your audience like and trust you.
Because humans are naturally territorial, keying into our affection for and intimate knowledge of our home territory is powerful stuff. You can talk about all sorts of things in relation to your business – from local breaking news and trending topics to issues, places, people, events, plans, you name it – to build loyalty, generate trust and make your business likeable at a local level.
Building loyalty with great after-sales communications
You’ve bought from them once. You might do it again. But some businesses drop their good behaviour the minute you turn into a paying customer.
A relative showed me two letters last week, one from an electricity supplier and one from a water company. The first was rude to the point of brusqueness, complete with spelling mistakes and piss-poor grammar. The other was a little marketing masterpiece; polite, friendly, efficient, professional and respectful.
She switched electricity suppliers simply because their letter was so horrible. It made her feel she didn’t matter. But she wrote to the MD of her water supplier – Yorkshire Water – to say thank you because their letter was so charming.
Brand loyalty is fragile; it doesn’t take much to drive a customer away. Make every communication count post-sale. Good freelance business writers know how to maximise the potential of every opportunity, at every stage of the customer journey.
The strange world of quantum programming
Quantum computing has been on the cards for ages. But quantum programming has lagged behind.
Quantum computer bits – qubits – adopt 1 and 0 status at the same time. Designing algorithms to take this quantum weirdness into account has proved easier said than done. Now it’s a step closer, with the first high-level programming language for quantum computing – Quipper – available and already being used by egg heads to create killer apps. How cool is that.
Accidental death insurance fail
Whoops. Thanks to New Scientist’s Feedback column for this one, which made me smile. It’s an accidental death policy which says: ‘Under this policy the insured must provide notification to the underwriters no later than 90 days after the occurring of any accident’. The ‘insured’ was left wondering how to make such a notification after his death.
A silly mistake. But there’s more. With my copywriting head on, it’s as badly written as it is ridiculous. It would be much better to just say, ‘If they want to claim, your Estate has 90 days from the day of your accident to tell the insurance company.’
Is it any wonder people dislike insurance so much, when the policies they need to understand for their own safety and security are written in such awful gobbledegook?
It’s about time insurers stopped letting underwriters write policy wordings, high time they dropped their arcane ways. They need to communicate with customers instead of alienating them. There are plenty of freelance copywriting pros out there – get a grip, people!
Tone of voice takes the brand marketing stage
Research by the consultancy Lingua Brand reveals brands spend a massive £8.7bn a year on visual identity, only around £1.4bn on verbal identity. But according to an article in Marketing Week, language is set to become just as important as visual identity. It’s something direct marketers have known forever, and it’s good to see language finally taking its rightful place in the rarified above-the-line world.
The telecomms giant O2 says it’s using the ‘right’ tone of voice as a brand building weapon. Nationwide and Cisco are playing with language to help them differentiate and improve the overall customer experience, and they’ve both put ‘eradicating jargon’ high on their to-do list.
Caroline Hobbs, senior manager of customer experience at Nationwide, commented, “The financial services sector and the banks in particular appear to communicate in a very formal way, and stringent regulation can mean financial product and brand messages get projected as sterile and complex at times.” Quite so.
As a freelance business writer with a marketing background, I say bring it on.
Content marketing isn’t the only fruit
Marketers are notorious for falling for their own hype. Is content marketing, the latest big thing, about to become the next casualty?
According to Tom Dunn, digital strategy director at media agency Maxus, “The industry is guilty of focusing on content at the expense of everything else. Marketers should view content less as a ‘silver bullet’ and more as a string to add to their bow. Publishing has become more democratised, but brands should beware of believing there is a one-size-fits-all solution.”
Marketers can overestimate the degree to which consumers want to engage with them, too. After all, it’s easy to feel everyone else is eating and sleeping your brand when you’re pickled in it 9-5. Creating an endless stream of extraordinariness is easier said than done. And it’s even more of a challenge to generate content that goes viral.
Yup, content marketing is brilliant stuff. But ‘eggs in one basket’ is a risky way to do marketing. Spread the love.
(Thanks to Free Images for the lovely photo)