The difference between writing and wording: a guide for stupid penny-pinchers

Now that it’s so easy to do your own marketing online, the value of soft-skills professionals has come into question. Welcome to the Idiot’s Guide to p*ss-poor approaches as in the following…

  • Who needs to pay professional videographers, for example, when you can shoot a perfectly acceptably sales video on your IPhone (never mind that brilliant video camera you can buy for for little or nothing from Amazon) and edit it up a bit on your Mac – upload to YouTube and/or your website, and bingo?
  • Who needs to pay professional photographers to shoot images of your new product or service when your cellphone works just as well and costs nothing?
  • Who needs to use professional graphic designers when you have a world of free art out there you can use to put almost any requirement together?
  • And who needs to use a professional writer to do just “a little bit of wording” for your website or brochure?
Why cheap creative marketing resources are a piss-poor investment

How clever is it for ignorant businesses to sneer at professionals in writing, design, web development and other marketing areas of expertise?

Technology offers many things, but it can’t provide unique human talent. Yet this is being denigrated and cheapened in parallel with the techno-cheapening of everything else.

[Read more…]

How to bypass the brainstorm for a marvelous marcom concept

Many people tell you that the best way to set about creating a marketing communication concept is to brainstorm your way through a large selection of words and phrases that you randomly associate with your project. (By project I mean project/product/service, but I’m keeping it down to one word for the sake of brevity.)

They tell you to note down every word that comes into your mind which can be associated with your project. They tell you to look up as much as you can in the dictionary and the thesaurus. Write it all down. Have a word feast and sooner or later the bones of a good tagline will fall out.

Well, I agree with that up to a point. It can be useful. But to my way of thinking there is a shortcut you can take, and that amounts to a reality check.

What really makes a good concept is how it encapsulates what the project achieves for the intended audience.

So, when I’m attempting to create a marcom concept, that’s what I look at first.

I say to myself, OK. What does this project really achieve – or intend to achieve – for its recipients? In other words, does it offer a key benefit?

Then I start writing down ideas that encapsulate that. Not what the project means to me, or to the client, or to the Board of Directors. What it means to the recipient of the project. What it will do for him/her. What its key benefit is. (I know, I keep harping on about focusing on benefits and “what’s in it for them.” But in business, what else is there to keep the wheels turning?)

And if you keep those thoughts firmly in your mind, suddenly you’ll find you’re writing concept ideas that are much crisper, more focused, and more relevant.

How to handle too many benefits

A few years ago I was called in by a chain of estate agents (realtors) in the UK to help them develop their marketing message. I arrived to find half a dozen sweaty, harassed team members all working away on long lists of genuine benefits that their company offered customers. Many of those benefits were unique to the company, and their service offering truly was excellent.

However that was part of the problem; there were too many benefits. Despite hours of brainstorming they hadn’t yet been able to see the wood for the trees. It was time for me to speak up.

Although my role here, as an external consultant, was to play “agent provocateur,” you can do this yourself provided you can step away mentally from the brainstorming exercise.

“OK,” I said. “Let’s group all those benefits together for a moment. What do they achieve collectively for the customer? What is one of the biggest negatives about buying and selling your home? And how do we overcome that?”

Gradually, I saw some light bulbs switching on over people’s heads. “Yes,” I said as they all started smiling. “We take the stress out of it.”

Not only did that get developed into a concept – it also formed the basis of their entire value proposition over the ensuing months and was very successful.

The takeout point here, is stand back and look at the tagline from different angles. Brainstorm your benefits, then ask yourselves what those benefits achieve collectively. I know this is an awful cliché, but “think outside the box.”

Want some more good ideas?

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English