Monthly Archives: August 2012

Will more garages harness the power of the web (and their web copywriter)?

The latest issue of Aftermarket just arrived. It’s a trade magazine for, surprise, surprise,  the automotive aftermarket. I started reading it regularly when I began working on newsletters and factsheets as copywriter for Mosaique Design/Toyota GB. Now I make sure I have a good read every time an issue arrives.

This month, under the headline ‘Are workshops web shy?’, there’s a piece about the lack of web-presence among independent garages. Quoting recent research by the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), the piece describes how fewer than six out of ten garages have websites – and as a result are missing out on a fantastic opportunity to engage their potential customers online.

Having even a simple website is only part of the challenge. There’s content to think about, and it will almost certainly have to be SEO focused. From my experience of the motor trade, your average garage owner or mechanic is more interested in diagnosing an engine or transmission problem than writing pages of website content.

And why should they be? I don’t spend hours fiddling with our cars, so why should they get ‘under the bonnet’ of the words that can differentiate and define their business? That’s where a skilled, experienced automotive copywriter comes into their own: doing the legwork to research great content and create engaging website pages that will appeal to search engines and potential garage customers alike.

My hope is that as independent motor repairers gradually get the message about their web presence, they won’t neglect the importance of well-written copy. So many businesses do, and it’s a wasted opportunity. There’s already one good local garage near us where the quality of the writing on their website is poor. Okay, so they’re a garage, not writers, but as for any organisation, the quality of on or offline writing says something important about their brand – no matter how small or local or specialised they are. And that’s where I can help them, by getting the writing right while they keep their heads under the bonnet or out on the sales floor.

So, if there are any small independent garages out there in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire or surrounding counties that need to harness the power of clear, simple, benefit-led copy… this Gloucestershire copywriter can help. And it won’t cost a fortune either.

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

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Professor Stephen Hawking…or not; good copywriting…or not?

I just heard the latest VW Up ad on Classic FM. It’s the one where the Stephen Hawking automated voice starts talking about all sorts of intellectual stuff, Higgs Boson and so on, then culminates by promoting VW’s new Up from just under eight-grand.

The ad, which is certainly attention grabbing, is already arousing a response online. Certainly the concept is a clever one and the copywriting for the script is equally clever. I’m not sure whether to admire it or condemn it – the ad has already been the subject of complaints to the ASA. I suppose it all depends on whether Professor Hawking approved of it.

If it’s actually Professor Hawking, he must have had a good reason for doing it – and maybe it says something about his sense of humour. But if it wasn’t, it could be seen as not being in the best taste and more than a little insulting to the great man.

Who knows?  Have a listen and make your own mind up here.

And while you’re at it, you can see the outcome of one designer’s complaint to the ASA. Interesting indeed. I guess Prof Hawking indeed has a sense of humour. Or he needed the cash. Or both. At least now I’ll feel better each time I hear the ad. It is rather good.

Whether I’d buy a VW Up in preference to Skoda’s Citigo, well that’s another matter. Actually, this Gloucestershire copywriter rather fancies a Yeti!

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Business computing pre-Microsoft: the Hidden connection

I learned to drive in an unmissable Texas Yellow Volkswagen Variant back in the 1970s. I remember that car because (as well as being a surprisingly fast-for-the-time fuel-injected 1600) my dad bought it new in 1971 when he co-wrote a book on business computing with his former colleague Edward Lowe.

Recently, in a rare (there’s lots to keep us copywriters in Gloucestershire busy) idle moment, I did an Amazon search for the book. I was delighted to find copies of Computer Control in Process Industries on the Internet bookseller that I use to increase my writing knowledge, as well as an entry in Google Books. Copies in the UK and North America started at £0.01. I bought one for my technology-mad nephew in Germany – a nice reminder of what his late grandfather once wrote.

Computer Control in Process Industries

I’m sure I got some of my interest in writing from Dad. As a university lecturer and researcher, he was always penning something – whether it was lectures for his students, this book, or information about the wave-power energy research he did later in the 1970s. It must have rubbed off and helped to shape the interests and skills that subsequently led me into my copywriting career. It’s a shame, however, that Dad died before I set up my own freelance copywriting business. I hope he’d have been proud of what I’ve achieved since 2006.

My search for his book prompted me to take a look through my own copy. Even a quick scan of the index highlights the hugely changed world that we occupy. It’s a world where IT and the Internet determine large chunks of my work. It struck me as interesting that Dad was already writing about business computing when ARPANET, the prototype for the Internet, was just a year or so old. And as for Messrs Gates, Joy, Jobs and other shapers of the online world we now live and work in? There isn’t a mention of them, or their subsequent companies in the book. Hardly surprising, given that a teenage Bill Gates was still burning the midnight oil and developing his coding skills at CCC while dad and his co-writer penned their book at the end of the 1960s.

The computing environments described in Computer Control in Process Industries have changed beyond recognition since 1971. What’s more, the chapter titled ‘The Future’ only hints at the massive changes that have taken place over the following four decades.  What struck me most of all was how, thanks to technology that’s evolved since that yellow VW turned up on our drive, I can now locate copies of Dad’s work around the world. And thanks to Google Books, parts at least of the book’s contents should be online for ever.

Oh yes. It’s interesting when you go back and explore the roots of your career as a Gloucestershire copywriter.

is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.

Guest copywriter on organic Shetland lamb, beef and wool blog

Like copywriters everywhere, copywriters in Gloucestershire need a break every now and then. I must have enjoyed last week’s trip to Shetland, because here’s my second post on the subject in a week!

Clift Sound: Uradale organic lamb is reared on its shore

In my last post I referenced my visit to Uradale Farm, high above Scalloway, west of Lerwick. While there, I was persuaded to put my writing head on and do a guest post for the Uradale blog. After having been filled with delicious organic lamb and learning about the philosophy behind Ronnie and Sue’s venture, what could I say, but yes.

Uradale already supplies several discerning butchers elsewhere in Great Britain. If you fancy some of the tastiest, most natural meat or wool you’ll ever find, get in touch and order direct from the farm. Next-day delivery is possible across the UK: beats your local Tescasdasons any day!

Uradale cows: beef as well as organic Shetland lamb

After several intense months of writing for a variety of clients in and around Gloucestershire, and elsewhere in the UK, Shetland provided a wonderful change of scene. I may have returned to Cheltenham with a summer cold, but also with newly recharged batteries and a desire not to leave it so long before getting back up to the Shetland Isles.

In the meantime, I’ve also created a dedicated copywriters for Shetland page on my website. I’m not strictly a Shetland copywriter, but now I’ve written for Uradale, and with plans afoot to write for Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, I can certainly offer my services as a wordsmith for other Shetland organisations. We’ll see what happens…

You can read more about Uradale organic Shetland lamb, beef and wool here…

is an experienced Gloucestershire-based copywriter specialising in Marketing, Web/SEO, technical and PR copywriting.