The true tale of Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe

March 23, 2015 at 12:22 pm | Posted in copywriting | 7 Comments
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Lady Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe (of Abbotsford).

I was rewriting a large website for a client with the glorious double-barrelled name (changed for this tale) of Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe.

With big projects, I often begin with small bits and work my way up at increasing speed.

Staff bios (profiles) are a great starting point.

When I got to Elizabeth’s bio, I recalled that she’d introduced herself to me as Liz.

She also signed her emails as Liz, yet her email address was Elizabeth@Frensington-SmytheEnterprises.com.

And so I wrote:

‘Dear Liz,

Are you predominantly Liz, Lizzy, Elizabeth (or some other permutation) to your various audiences?

The name they read should be the one they use.

If we can pick one variation and use it consistently across all communication channels, we’ll strengthen your brand.

If, however, use is situational, we can give this idea a miss.’

Liz replied:

‘My name is Elizabeth Frensington-Smythe.

Business cards, emails etc all use Elizabeth.

99% of people call me Liz.’

So I said:

‘Thank you, Liz.

So, all your business comms are in sync with just 1% of your audience.

As you’re obviously rebranding, can we ditch Elizabeth for Liz in all instances going forward?

Liz is shorter, friendlier and more accessible.

(Three traits that are particularly attractive when one has a double-barrelled surname.)

It’s impossible to misspell Liz.

And you’ll never again have to start a relationship with, ‘Please, call me Liz’.

This may remove small but unsettling uncertainties for some anxious folk.

Make sense?’

Liz said:

‘Liz it is.’

And so started our website optimisation collaboration.

Liz not only ended up with perfect online content.

She also got a sharper, stronger and more consistent personal brand.

I love it when that happens!

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by #1 Airsoft Mom.

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Stew on this!

August 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Posted in copywriting | 10 Comments
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Which side are you on?

Which side are you on?

I was once asked to settle a family debate.

She said you stew apples to create the dish Stewed apple.

He said you stew apples to create … stewed apples.

This is what I said:

I’m honoured you’ve consulted me.

In most cases, Stewed apple would be seen as generic.

In literal terms, very few would stew just one apple.

Stewed apples, however, lays it out explicitly. There’s definitely more than one apple involved.

If you stew multiple apples but refer to the result in the singular, some readers may pause to consider a possible disconnect.

This is dangerous, as they’ll be distracted from your message.

If you use multiple apples and say stewed apples, there’s no conflict and therefore no distraction.

If, however, for some reason, you stew just one apple, stewed apple is bang on the money.

Lastly, we have the dish: Stewed apple.

Bing returns just 88,200 hits for this term.

Stewed apples, however, has 120,000 hits.

A huge difference if you want people to find your website and buy your stuff.

So, by any measure (except the stewing of a sole apple) I’d recommend stewed apples.

In other words,

for the purpose of this debate,

you’re stewed!

She ignored me.

But it was fun.

If you liked it too, perhaps you should be a copywriter!

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by sid.

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.


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