Category Archives: Productivity

Rumours revisited – and a great presentation by the Introverted Presenter

Do you remember Rumours by Fleetwood Mac? I’d forgotten how good this classic album is until I heard it again (on cassette no less) en route to the WinBiz networking group at Nailsworth, Gloucestershire the other morning. I was struck by how good the album sounded after nearly 40 years (yes, it was recorded in California in 1976). It got me thinking about how enduring the best copywriting and other business advice is. Then I sat down to breakfast and listened to IntrovertedPresenter, Richard Tierney expound the principles of great presentations in 10 gripping minutes.

‘Think ABC,’ said Richard: Attention, Benefits and Credentials. This is a timeless structure for a powerful presentation (or, methinks, effective copywriting) and not a million conceptual miles away from the classic Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action (AIDA) model that has served us copywriters since time immemorial.

Start at the end, Richard added, with the idea you want your audience to take away – or the message you want your copy to convey. Then open strongly, tell your story and end with that single powerful thought. Remember what former US president Bill Clinton said: ‘If we say two things we haven’t said anything at all.’ And the guiding principle adopted by ITV News journalists down the years, the idea of a ‘Hey Doreen!’ attention grabber…

By then, Richard’s 10 minutes were up, but his message had stuck, which is why I can remember it two weeks later as I start to plan my 10-minute presentation for this week’s WinBiz meeting – that’ll be on client case study copywriting, in case you’re interested.

Oh, how the strongest ideas and principles are often the simplest. They’re the ones that endure over the decades and still reward. Rather like listening to that old Fleetwood Mac cassette the other morning.

For more of Richard Tierney’s wealth of presentation skills expertise, visit his business presentation skills website. And please say I sent you.

 

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

Music for Gloucestershire copywriters…here’s my current Top 5

It was re-reading Hi Fidelity  by Nick Hornby that got me thinking about my current Top 5 for copywriting music – and suggested an idea for a very brief post as we all sit and melt in the Scorchio! summer of 2013.

First off, I must say that if I do listen to anything it has to have no (or very unobtrusive) lyrics. Unless I’m on a very untaxing task, lyrics are too distracting. And as for listening to Radio 4 or anything else that’s remotely intellectually stimulating, that’s an absolute no-no.

So, to the current Al Hidden Top 5, and here’s what this Cheltenham copywriter is listening to…

  1. Rachmaninoff:  Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra
  2. Zero 7:  Simple Things
  3. Radio Swiss Classic (at this very moment, Edvard Grieg Piano Concerto / Symphonic Dances)
  4. Hotel Costes: any of the first five Costes albums (Etage 3, La Suite and so on…)
  5. The original soundtrack album: Ne Le Dis a Personne (Tell No One)

Music like this, a some website copy to write, a bit of client copy-editing and a good old-fashioned press release to craft. Now that’s what I call summer!

What do you listen to while you work and why? Feel free to post a comment and share…

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

Inspiration the Carie Lyndene way – a review

Even busy Cheltenham copywriters need to get out sometimes. That’s just one of the reasons I attended Success Coach Carie Lyndene’s popular Stop Losing Money to Competitors – Start Earning Your Worth courses yesterday. Having now heard Carie speak, I’d recommend her brand of success training to anyone. I defy you not to learn something useful.

A pinch-yourself-to-see-if-it’s-real gem

The two-hour course was at Cheltenham Film Studios (where my long-time copywriting client MA Design is based). It would have been a bargain if I’d paid for it. But as a freebie, it was a pinch-yourself-to-see-if-it’s-real gem that I’d recommend to anyone looking to take their business to that elusive ‘next level’.

I’d only met Carie briefly before yesterday. To be honest, I was prepared for just another get-rich-quick course. But our two hours together was packed with valuable takeaways and quickly changed my preconceptions.

You’ll need to move fast if you want to hear Carie for free, because she’s only planning one more free course before there’s a fee. Go anyway, it’ll still be a steal if she charges for the sessions. Learn more about inspiring Carie and book your place on her Eventbrite bookings page.

Different reasons for attending

Before getting down to business, we attendees swapped notes on our reasons for coming along: these were varied to say the least, ranging from inspiration to grow small businesses to affirmation that an existing approach is correct, support for Carie, and business networking. My fellow attendees were an equally diverse crowd, ranging from graphic designers to a presentation specialist, a virtual PA and a chiropractor. (Yes, it was a good networking opportunity for a Gloucestershire copywriter.)

By the end of the morning, and after Carie had generously spent a load of time talking with us individually,  we went back to work inspired and impressed.

Referencing many of the world’s self improvement masters

A detailed review would be too much of a spoiler for the treat that awaits you when you attend. Suffice to say that Carie’s presentation ranged across the ideas of Bob Burg (the Go Giver), Jim Rohn, Robert Kiyosaki, Michael E. Gerber ( the E-myth) and many other respected thinkers. Most valuable of all was how Carie drew on her 30+ years of business experience to weave these ideas together with her own. Every word was thought provoking and I’m sure no-one in that room didn’t come away with at least one inspiring idea for their business.

As well as getting confirmation that my own professional-lifestyle copywriting approach was right for me,  I was particularly impressed with how Carie happily fielded questions from us during her presentation – and still managed to keep on schedule. That’s a clever trick when you consider how easily some presenters are distracted and led off-topic by side-discussions. Not Carie, which helped because it would have been hard to bottle up all the ideas she’d provoked until the end of the session.

Listen to Carie yourself

Whether you’re a freelance copywriter like me, a graphic designer, a would-be online entrepreneur or anyone else growing an enterprise, you really should listen to what success coach Carie has to say.

Who have you found particularly inspiring while developing your business?

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

Disappearing files (or why Word users should understand FAT32 and NTFS)

I use Microsoft Word. You probably use Word. And we both know it can be a pain. As a busy Cheltenham-based copywriter, I recently had a weird experience with disappearing MS Word 2003 files (I have no idea whether the same thing can happen with later versions). In fact, it was more than weird, it was frustrating as anything and it coat me quite a few hours before I (fingers crossed) got to the bottom of it. What was even more frustrating was that online forums, though alluding to the symptoms, didn’t give me a fast answer. Eventually, my own trial and error and a forum post that I hadn’t picked up on before, gave me the answer. I’ve put things right now and all seems to be well with Word.

So just in case you run into any of these symptoms or weird error messages, here’s what happened. It all started with the appearance of worrying error messages (including those listed below) when I was working on a suite of SEO category pages for a client. All was going swimmingly until MS Word suddenly closed – taking my website copywriting with it. Worse of all, in Windows Explorer, the files had changed to 1 kb files. When opened, these contained a few lines of gibberish. Nothing more.

Error messages sent to torment a Cheltenham copywriter

 

 

 

Ominous error messages

Here are extracts from some of the MS Word error messages I encountered:

‘Word cannot complete the save due to a file permission error…’

‘There is an unrecoverable disk error on file… the disk you are working on has a media problem that prevents Word from saving it…’

‘Word failed reading from the file (…). Please restore the network connection or replace the floppy disk and retry.’

‘Word has lost data due to a bad network connection or missing floppy. Documents relying on this data are going to be saved and then closed.’

‘Word experienced an error trying to open the file. Try these suggestions. Check the file permissions for the document or drive. Make sure there is sufficient free memory and disk space. Open the file with the Text Recovery converter.’

‘Do you want to retry the save.’

‘Word has insufficient memory. Do you want to save “…” as Rescued document…’

Not what a busy copywriter wants to see

None of these is what a busy copywriter (or any other MS Word user) wants to see – especially when they accompany the complete loss of the document and your last couple of hours’ work. And just for the record, there was plenty of free space on the disks, I wasn’t using a floppy disk, and the hard drives had all been tested and were in good condition.

As Toyah Willcox once sang, it was a mystery.

More hair tearing and brow furrowing followed, along with re-installation of MS Word, virus and malware checking with every application on my system and half-a-dozen online scanners too. And all the time, it was one of the busiest periods of the year so far… The last thing I needed was lost content, lost documents and lost time. Worst of all, when I sought fresh perspectives, the ominous spectre of a complete Windows re-install kept coming up.

Out of desperation  I started working with Apache Open Office and that pretty much solved the problem – except that I couldn’t use the MS Word spelling, grammar and readability checks or run PerfectIT. So it wasn’t ideal and certainly wasn’t a sustainable long-term fix.

FAT32 formatting and Truecrypt virtual volumes

The clue to the eventual solution came from the references to disks and media. Then IT expert Tim Isles mentioned the problems that FAT32 formatting on removable disks can cause.  And that got me thinking, because the problems always seemed to occur when I was working off virtual disks created using TrueCrypt volumes.

A quick check of the formats revealed that I’d created the volumes using FAT32 instead of NTFS. And then I found an obscure reference to this online. In one forum, symptoms akin to those I’d seen had been reported to anti-virus company F-Secure. And they had mentioned the problems with FAT32 formatting. That was when I created new volumes in TrueCrypt, made sure they were formatted to NTFS and started using Word 2003 again. And everything has been working fine for several weeks.

Result!

By the way, an interesting coda to the story came when I worked on a MS Word 2003 file that was on a removable SD card. Exactly the same symptoms occurred and of course, when I checked the SD card I found that it was formatted as FAT32.

If you’re baffled by similar symptoms and error messages, this could be the answer you’re looking for. If it is, I’m pleased to have helped.

 

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

‘Hire a copywriter’ says Cheltenham strategic branding expert

 

We had a great presentation at the Gloucestershire Business Breakfast Club this morning. After we’d munched our egg and bacon and caught up around the table, Darren James of Cheltenham strategic marketing consultancy gillfoxjames gave a stonking talk about supercharging your email marketing.

As one of the freelance copywriters in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, I’ll talk about the merits of hiring a copywriter as long as anyone will listen. And as I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen website and print projects stall because the copy isn’t ready – and that’s usually because the client is trying (unsuccessfully) to do something that doesn’t come naturally to them.

 

‘Use a copywriter’

What’s super-nice about moments like this morning’s is when other marketing or online authorities push the ‘use a copywriter’ message as positively as Darren did. Darren was talking about writing email content and crafting dedicated landing pages that continue your story beyond the recipient’s inbox. But a skilled and experienced copywriter can also help in dozens of other situations: your new website; that much-needed client case study writing; press releases; brochures that actually work for you rather than making expensive waste-bin filler.

When can a freelance copywriter help you?

Anytime, in fact, when you don’t have the time, the specialist skills or the inclination to write your own copy. And you need help getting vital writing off your to-do list and out there working for you.

Thanks for waving the copywriting flag and valuing what freelance wordsmiths can do Darren. Appreciated buddy.

Now tell me readers, what would prompt you to hire a freelance copywriter?

 

breakfast

 

 


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

Try the best email management tip I’ve ever tried…

Here’s the best piece of email management advice I’ve ever found. Try it – it works.

As a busy copywriter in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, I need to get my head down and work uninterrupted. Coming in and out of the zone to answer the phone or check email every few minutes isn’t good for my productivity and the quality of thinking and writing I deliver to my clients – whether its website copy, another client case study or a press release.

gmail

 

 

 

 

 

I long ago switched off email notifications – be they sounds or screen

pop ups. I also set my email clients so they don’t check for mail as often as before.  But the most useful email productivity tip of all has been to check email less frequently during the day. At first it sounds strange (unworkable even). But work it does and it helps your concentration as well as your productivity.

The most persuasive case that I’ve ever found for checking email three times a day comes in two recent podcasts from Manager Tools. As ever, this site has delivered the goodies; I urge you to listen to them, try their recommendations and feel the benefits. The comments and feedback on these pages are also very useful – and bear out the effectiveness of this approach.:

Email Three Times A Day – Part 1

Email Three Times A Day – Part 2

 

Does this work for you? How have you tweaked the basic model? Let me know what you think.

 

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

Valuable Content Marketing – the new book every marketer should read

I sat in the sun last weekend and read an impressive new book called Valuable Content Marketing by West Country authors Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton. Now the weather seems to have got better here in Gloucestershire, you could do worse than pour a long drink, find a sunny spot on the patio and read it too. I’m sure you’ll find something of interest – even as an experienced Cheltenham copywriter who already creates valuable content, I certainly did.

valuablecontentmarketing

Unthink lots of what you’ve learned about marketing communications

The basic premise of Valuable Content Marketing is that you should unthink lots that you’ve learned about sales and marketing communications. Instead, you need to stop pushing sales messages, get online and make your marketing valuable to prospects and customers. It’s all about generosity, the good karma of what goes around comes around and making everything from a freebie to your website content intrinsically valuable. By so doing, the pair assert, you will connect with clients and customers in a way they’ll appreciate – and they’ll do business with you when the time is right.

Great stuff – but did they miss one important trick?

Valuable Content Marketing  is easily digestible, nicely laid out and full of ‘instant takeaways that you can start applying to your business immediately. I particularly liked their templates and checklists and mini case studies. But I think they missed one valuable trick. To find out what it is, read more on my Valuable Content Writer website page .

 

 

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