Cliche of the Titans

December 18, 2013 at 9:45 am | Posted in copywriting, Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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A fight to the death.

A fight to the death.

One of my clients makes high-end breakfast products.

So when she wrote on her labels that breakfast was:

the most important meal of the day,

she knew it.

And meant it.

But this didn’t stop me challenging her.

You see, every person and their pet know and use this time-worn truism.

So I suggested we change it to:

the day’s most vital meal.

My client then had the temerity to suggest she preferred important to vital!

And so I mounted my defence:

  1. Vital is shorter than important.
  2. Vital packs more punch.
  3. By ditching most important meal of the day for day’s most vital meal,  we kill the cliché and own the concept.
  4. This switches the passive voice to active.
  5. It also gives superior cadence.
  6. Finally, vital stems from the Latin word for life/living (which is much in sync with a food brand).

So, do you still want important?!

My client replied:

‘You win a million times on this one. Thank you!’

Gracious, intelligent, enlightened and humble clients like this keep me copywriting.

And make me strain every nerve to advance their prosperity.

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

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Handle with care

September 20, 2013 at 9:37 am | Posted in copywriting | 11 Comments
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A delicate operation.

A delicate operation.

Word up!

When you edit a website to relaunch a high-end muesli range, every word counts.

To this end, a clever client and I recently had an interesting exchange:

She

I bought some yogurt today. They have ‘handcrafted’ as part of their product description.

I currently use ‘hand mixed’ on my website and labels.

Do you think ‘handcrafted’ could be a better word for my range?

What about ‘hand made’?

Me

‘Handcrafted’ used to be a novel take on ‘hand made’, but it isn’t anymore.

Your muesli isn’t furniture.

And you aren’t God.

Therefore, ‘crafted’ is not the word I’d go for.

I think you’re already totes on the money with ‘hand mixed’.

And, for the record, I’d like as few hands as possible in my yogurt!

Morals

So we’re sticking with ‘hand mixed’.

Copywriting is a deeper process than some people think.

That said, if a client has already nailed something, a good copywriter doesn’t try to gild the lily or fix what ain’t broke.

For that is our

craft.

What do you think?

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by Jay PH.

The quick & the dead

May 13, 2010 at 9:12 am | Posted in copywriting | Leave a comment
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In tough times, small is beautiful.

As a freelance copywriter, I watched clients past and present deal variously with a year of ‘interesting times’:

  • One client terminated a chronic poor performer, so he could keep his better staff.
  • A second gave accounts payable to his wife – who paid my invoices twice as fast!
  • A third saw contract termination as a happy excuse to knock on different doors. He scored a fresh, new role in just two weeks.
  • A fourth used his quiet time to commission a blog and reengineer his website for the soon-to-be-obligatory live Web 2.0 feeds.

These were all small to medium firms. The smaller they were, the faster they moved and the more they treated the global financial crisis as an opportunity, rather than a threat.

On the other hand, two larger (former) clients took a more traditional approach:

  • One suspended their industry newsletter, just as customers sought leadership and staff needed a morale boost.
  • Another retrenched all but a skeleton crew. These unhappy few were given cruel workloads and a 20% pay cut. The pressure was crippling and word of their torment spread far. And wide.

Brands have been damaged; perhaps even smashed. I can’t see either of these companies racing ahead any time soon.

Though my data are obviously insignificant, my observations suggest that in tricky times, small is beautiful.

Leaner, keener, stronger and smarter for their experience, I fully expect my nimble SME clients to lap their competition in the sunnier season ahead.

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

How to name things

March 31, 2010 at 10:17 am | Posted in copywriting | 12 Comments
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Some names stand alone. Others need a little help.

When naming a company, course or other corporate thing, there’s a risk your choice may be a little ‘dry’.

You don’t want to put your audience to sleep.

On the other hand, you can’t be so ‘way out’ that you damage your brand.

A good solution is to have a creative title with a ‘sensible’ subtitle (or vice versa).

This two-pronged approach usually satisfies most audience members.

I used it this morning, with an article on leadership.

My title, Learning Leadership, was dry but functional.

My subtitle, How to Get Support from Above, Around & Below, added meaning and context and was a bit more ‘with it’.

When trying to come up with name options, the blank page can be very daunting. So I use what I call the ‘shotgun’ approach.

I define this in the intro I write for lists of names I prepare for clients:

This list comprises a broad spectrum of serious suggestions, potential thought starters and light-hearted ideas. By casting the net as wide as possible, I hope to either catch a winning idea or produce one in the mind of another.

Recombine components for more permutations. If you can’t decide between several suitable names, run them past a trusted group of people from the audience/s you wish to reach. Their feedback should guide you to a single choice.

This approach can take a while, but it invariably produces an ideal result.

If you’re stuck for a name, think of mine! 🙂

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

Making myself redundant

January 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Posted in copywriting | 6 Comments
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I feel pride when a client no longer needs me.

As a copywriter, I strive to help my clients:

  1. Build their brand.
  2. Dominate their market.
  3. Make their fortune.

As I go along, I also try to do one more thing: make myself redundant.

I want my clients to grasp the basics of my profession so they become better writers.

By writing better copy, they need me less. They save money and their confidence grows.

This isn’t good for my mortgage, but I do get a warm fuzzy.

When a client I’ve been working with sends me something they’ve written and I can’t significantly improve it, I feel great pride.

This once happened in as little as 18 months.

This client took great care to re-read each of his original documents, next to my optimised versions, to see all the changes I’d made.

If he asked why I’d made a particular change, I happily explained my method in full.

Eventually, he picked up enough basic editing know-how to write good, tight copy every time.

If you’re this way inclined, you can become a better writer and get to the point where you don’t need me.

On the other hand, if you’d rather shoot from the hip and let me groom your words forever, I’d love the ongoing work!

The choice is yours. But I hope this post shows that when I take on a client, I truly care about their prosperity.

Enough to put myself out of a job!

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by Olerousing.


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