Tag Archives: copywriters gloucestershire

A plan after Growing Gloucestershire 2013… then it changes

I had a plan and it was a good one. After attending the impressive Growing Gloucestershire 2013 conference I’d sit down and write a load of blogs that had come to me during the presentations. Each would be brief but powerful and I’d have them all done within 24 hours. Then real life intervened.

Loads of new clients

A new client (there seem to have been quite a few of you recently – thank you!) urgently needed conventional and online press release writing for their client. How could I resist, it was for the architectural sector and I love writing for building design and construction related services. Then Mrs H took us off for a couple of days in Wales (only just though) – strictly no work allowed. Then long-standing client Energist needed a load of emails and postcard copy, plus a reworked website page on the run in to new Part L Building Regulations. And in the middle of all this I lost a couple of days through post-concussion syndrome. Copywriter: 6-feet tall; low office ceiling beam: 5-foot nine inches. Moment’s attention lapse. Ouch!

Catching up after Growing Gloucestershire 2013

So here I am nearly two weeks later, having just caught up with my post-Growing Gloucestershire LinkedIn contacts, celebrating the completion of a stunning 26-page aerospace-defence brochure, recovering from a sore head and I’m still buzzing with the excitement of the conference at The University of Gloucestershire’s Park campus.

For this Cheltenham copywriter, the two high points were Dame Fiona Reynolds’ comment about how the National Trust (NT) handled rebranding and brand language on her watch. I asked whether brand language work had gone alongside the visual branding work. She assured me that it had, and told me how she had banned the use of jargon, insisted on the use of we and us and emphasised the use of ‘our’ when talking with members and prospective members of the charity. What about the use of ‘You’ – after all, this is one of the biggest differences one can make when talking with readers in print. But no, and for a very good reason.

Brand language at the National Trust – ‘we, us and our’

The whole NT rebranding was about a shared brand experience (have you noticed how National Trust restorations are now much more open to visitors?). In order to get that openness across in their brand language, this particular communication challenge used ‘we, us and our’ to emphasise that the new charity was a shared resource.  I get that in this particular case, but there’s still a hugely important role for more-you-than-we in most business communication –as I showed my recent client to his delight in the aforementioned aerospace brochure copywriting. More on that in a future post.

The importance of grammar, spelling and proofreading

My second highpoint at Growing Gloucestershire was a point made by the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Fiona Spencer in a presentation on 10 Top Marketing Tips. Given that a lot of her content was high-level marketing stuff, I was thrilled to discover that Tip 10 was the importance of proofreading and Fiona’s assertion that spelling and grammar still matter. That’s a big +1 to that. As I am forever telling anyone who will listen, you’ve got to be aware of the dangers of the hidden assassins (the gunshot that kills before you hear its sound) in your copywriting. Particularly online where the subtlest annoyance can send a visitor off to another part of the InterWeb before you know it. That’s where a skilled copyeditor and proofreader can transform your draft writing.

Bye, bye sore head…

So there you have it. A few thoughts inspired by Growing Gloucestershire and only two weeks late – for very good reasons. Watch this space for more… And, by the way, my head’s a lot better thank you. Which is why I can write this instead of curling grumpily in a corner while the room spins uncontrollably and bad elves hammer 6-inch nails into my skull as they seemed to be doing last Friday.

Good job too. There’s a load more copywriting on its way in the shape of client case studies and website/SEO copy, Write on Al!

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.

MyBizCard woes – anyone else had the same experience?

Have you been asked to complete a MyBizCard.co review for someone? Were you tempted to register yourself and give MyBizCard access through LinkedIn?

Despite being super-cautious about who I sign up with – and up to my ears in work as a very busy Cheltenham copywriter – I was tempted when a trusted contact asked me to do a review. It looked like a good idea so I registered. And then I gave MyBizCArd access to LinkedIn. And yes, then I thought it would be a good idea to contact some of my LinkedIn connections to ask for a review.

And then, like opening Pandora’s box, things started to go awry. First, the site ignored my selected list of contacts and approached ALL my LinkedIn contacts for a review. That was embarrassing because I haven’t done copywriting work for many of them… To add insult to injury, some of the approach emails showed other connections copied in. If that was you, please accept my sincere apologies. It wasn’t my intention.

The penultimate annoyance  came when I discovered that MyBizCard doesn’t show more than three recommendations– and my copywriting clients have been good enough to respond in their droves .

And now, after I and many of my contacts have gone to the trouble to contact each other and respond, the last straw. MyBizCo won’t let me or anyone else see any but the most recent three ratings unless I sign up for their upgrade at $99!

All very dubious indeed. I could say something stronger…

Have you had the same experience? Please tell me what happened to you when you engaged with MyBizCard.co.

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.

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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.

When’s a Bentley chauffeur like a Cheltenham copywriter?

Have you ever found it challenging trying to come up with a novel birthday treat for an elderly (or not-so-elderly) parent?

While struggling to find something suitably entertaining for my 80-something mother, I was stumped. Mum is extremely low-maintenance and undemanding when it comes to special occasions. Then I thought of my business-breakfasting companion David Keffler of Cheltenham-based Azure  Chauffeur Driven Luxury Cars and his beautiful 1996 Bentley Brooklands. A plot was hatched… Aside from the fact that David helped us give Mum a day out that she hasn’t stopped talking about, the experience got me thinking about the similarities between a luxury chauffeur service and my own work as one of the freelance copywriters in Cheltenham.

alandbentley

The only licensed private-hire Rolls-Royce or Bentley in Gloucestershire

I won’t give you chapter and verse here. You can read all about David and his Bentley on his website or in any of the media articles that are increasingly appearing around Gloucestershire as he builds his business. Suffice to say that he’s an accountant who has always wanted to drive around in a classic Bentley – while prudently making sure the car pays its way.

As the only private-hire licensed Rolls-Royce or Bentley in Gloucestershire he’s hit the nail on the head with his Charlton Kings, Cheltenham-based business.   As well as the usual wedding car service, the Bentley (the registration C18 CAl could be for ‘Copywriter Al’) is available for executive transfers, airport runs, business functions – and giving family members an unforgettable experience on spacial birthdays and other anniversaries.

From the moment David collected my wife from Cheltenham, to dropping Mum and two other guests off at our lunch venue, his service was professional, friendly, punctual and flexible. We’re all still talking about the day and I couldn’t recommend the experience more highly. He exceeded expectations and that Bentley, as you’d expect, is so luxurious.

bentleyandmum

Similarities to professional Gloucestershire copywriters

That reminds me about the similarities between David and his Bentley and the service I aim to provide as a freelance copywriter offering a bespoke service for my clients. Whether he’s looking after my Mum or driving big-name celebrities, David has a knack for getting his delivery and the tone of the event just right. And just as the previous experience of a skilled copywriter shines through, so David’s professional background clearly sets him apart from most private-hire drivers.  He does what he does efficiently, imaginatively and discreetly so you immediately feel that you can count on him. Which you can.

That Bentley sparkles like well-polished copy

Just as you may not need professional copywriting services every day, it’s good to know they’re available when you do. It’s the same when you want the class and style that only a classic Bentley can offer. Especially one that’s polished until it  sparkles as brightly as a skilled copywriter’s online or offline writing!

Lastly, and just like me, David and his purring 6.7-litre limousine specialise in providing a bespoke service for businesses and individuals in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the Cotswolds and surrounding counties.

If it’s got to be a Bentley for a special business or private occasion it’s got to be David. But when words have to purr or roar like that mighty V8, please remember Copywriter Al!

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

Simplify your business writing with the madman, architect, carpenter and judge…

They say it takes a while to get into your stride as a blogger and that your mission in the blogosphere gradually evolves. The more I blog, the more I believe I can use blogging to share my skills and insights as a Cheltenham copywriter with you.

Maybe  you’ re thinking of hiring a freelance copywriter or perhaps you could use a few professional tips for your own business writing. If so, I hope that I can help. And here’s a great one to be getting on with…

I was listening to a Harvard Business Review Ideacast podcast the other day when I heard writer Bryan Garner talking about the idea of the madman, the architect, the carpenter and the judge when you’re doing a piece of writing. It’s a cracker, and simple as all the best ideas should be.

The four personas represent four different stages to go through when you are writing anything. You might be putting together a report or an email, or drafting a page of website copy. In each case, you adopt the four personas in sequence.

The madman

Just get down your ideas. Don’t edit or critique them. Just throw them down on the page as you think of them. Like a madman (or woman!).

The architect

Next, adopt the persona of the architect. Add some structure to your ideas, form them into paragraphs. You are creating the master plan for your writing, bringing order to the mad person’s brainstorm, setting out your main points… By now you have an outline for your piece.

The carpenter

Then, just as skilled craftsmen and women come onto site and add detail and finish to the building structure, it’s time to be the carpenter. Following the architectural specification, you develop your ideas more completely – but still briskly, because the judge still has to play a vital role…

The judge

Adopting the persona of the judge, you go back over the work, look at it objectively and critically and edit. This is where you ask yourself whether you could write something better. You polish and craft until your piece is complete.

I told you this was a simple, easily remembered idea. The person we have to thank for this bit of inspired writing wisdom is Professor Betty Sue Flowers of the University of Texas.  If you want to explore her work on what Bryan Garner calls the Flowers paradigm, there’s more information online.

Alternatively, just remember the madman, the architect, the carpenter and the judge next time you have to write something and see what a difference they make.

And if you don’t have the time, the specialist skills or the inclination to do a piece of business writing such as SEO website content, brochure copywriting or a client case study? I’m always here to help organisations like yours in Gloucestershire, surrounding counties and elsewhere in the UK.

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

In praise of Håg ergonomic seats – again

Are you into office-setup porn? Don’t worry, it’s nothing to be alarmed at. I heard the term used while listening to a podcast recently.  The discussion was about people’s predilection for viewing each others’ creative office setups. There’s even a site called The Setup, where creatives post details of the equipment they use to get stuff done. And of course, anyone who visits Lifehacker.com will know they regularly feature creatives’ workspaces  too.

I guess this fascination comes from our desire to see how others do the tasks that we do, or to learn how we could create a better, more efficient, working environment. And then, of course, there’s the idea of a dream writing-graphic-web development setup. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cosy basement office or my kitchen table. But in my dreams? It would have to be a sunny office in one of the chalets at Haldi ob Schattdorf, overlooking the Reuss valley and Altdorf in Switzerland’s Uri canton. For now, I have to make do with the view from my favourite webcam – and memories of the great times I’ve spent in central Switzerland.

What consistently strikes me about these workstation or setup reviews is the preoccupation with computers, desks, multi-monitor setups and peripherals. Too rarely in my opinion do the authors give sufficient attention to the quality of their office seating. That’s a shame – aafter all, you only have one back and it’s easily damaged…

As a busy Cheltenham copywriter I spend hours at my computer. I’ve blogged previously about my fondness for Norwegian Håg (pronounced ‘Hawg’) office seating. Unlike some so-called ‘ergonomic’ seats, the Håg range really is a treat for your back. So much so, that my Danish chiropractor was so impressed that he re-equipped several practices with Håg products.

hag03bristol

That’s why, now that I’m doing more copywriting and editing at a satellite location not far from Portishead’s marina development near Bristol, I’ve invested in another Håg 03 seat. It was a logical decision due to how impressed I’ve been with the Hag 05 and 03 seats in my main office. As ever, I bought my little Norwegian beauty from regular supplier Nigel Eldridge at the Office Backcare Centre in Cheltenham,  Gloucestershire. I can’t sing Nigel’s praises highly enough. If you’re in the Gloucestershire area (or even if you’re not), have a chat with him about how proper ergonomic office seating can transform your working life.

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

Dru yoga comes to a copywriter’s rescue…

It’s been a week or so now since we did Airbuses and barking dogs. Forgive me for the longer than usual break, but two things have conspired to make blogging a mightier-than ever challenge. Life as a Cheltenham copywriter would have been a whole lot more difficult if it hadn’t been for the generous help of a neighbour who teaches Dru Yoga.

First, there’s been a very welcome rush of work requiring quotes – and writing! That’s a good problem. Spring is well and truly sprung and several projects that have been in the pipeline for a while have finally gone live. I’ve got SEO copywriting, client case studies, website product and category page writing and more on the go at the moment. All my favourite stuff. Lovely!

But circumstances have conspired to make looking after clients and getting work done harder than usual. Last week, some thieving toe-rags decided to vandalise (or try to steal) the copper wires in my telephone exchange here in Cheltenham. Nicking copper has to be the big growth industry around here – as elsewhere in the UK at the moment.  Anyway, the result was that several hundred Cheltenham properties have been phone-less since the middle of last week. That’s never happened before…

Combine the two events and you’ll understand why being a Cheltenham copywriter has been less than easy since 27/3/13. BT says the phone line will be fixed by tonight, but the day’s nearly over and it ain’t working yet.

The last couple of days have been made easier by the generosity of one of my neighbours, Dru Yoga practitioner Karan Walsh. Karan very kindly let me access her Wireless-Internet. It hasn’t been ideal, because I’ve had to work on the 15-inch screen confines of my laptop, but it’s been a whole load better than trying to work with an old dial-up connection as I did for the first few days… Thank you Karan.

‘Glacial’ is the word that comes to mind. How did we ever manage back in the old days?

So, by way of a thank you to Karan, here’s a link to her Dru Yoga in Cheltenham page on yogahub. She’s a great yoga instructor and passionate as anything about the Dru variety. If you’ve never tried yoga, give it a whirl (Mrs H did and loves it).

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in getting copywriting off your to-do list, please contact me. I’ll write while you go to Karan’s yoga class!

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

An Airbus, a ‘barking dog’ and a Cheltenham copywriter…

It’s amazing how a little bit of understanding can calm the nerves and make sense of something that at first appears unfamiliar. On a recent flight back to the UK, we were aboard an Airbus A320. If you know anything about the A320 you’ll know all about the so-called ‘barking dog’ that sometimes makes itself heard during push back from the gate, especially if you’re sitting somewhere around the centre of the aircraft – as this Cheltenham copywriter and his other half were last weekend.

a320 airbus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So it was last Saturday. As the aircraft was pushed out onto the taxiway and the engines spooled up, the distinctive sound of ‘barking’ filled the cabin. As I immersed myself in Influence by Robert Cialdini, I couldn’t help overhearing a conversation in a nearby seat. With some concern, another passenger asked one of the cabin crew what the noise was and what was going on – and whether the plane was okay.

As I’ve heard many times, the flight attendant smiled and explained that it was the jet’s hydraulics – not a stray mongrel in the freight hold – and completely normal. The passenger looked relieved and settled back with his newspaper. All was right in the world and a few minutes later we were climbing out over the Med and heading north.

An interest in aircraft and several years working as a technical copywriter around Airbus has taught me that the mystery ‘barking dog’ is actually the power transfer unit between the aircraft’s green and yellow hydraulic circuits. It’s particularly noticeable during push back when one engine is running and the PTU drives the hydraulic circuits on the other, as yet unpowered, side of the aircraft. If you sit down at the back, you’ll barely notice it – try it next time you’re on an A320. (Even better, learn the answer and impress friends, family and fellow-travellers with your knowledge…)

barkingdog

There’s a parallel with certain aspects of copywriting. I’ve lost count of the times a client of my freelance copywriting business asked me about the questions starting a website page, a conversational writing style or the use of ‘and’ or ‘but’ at the start of a sentence. To some people, perhaps those brought up on a certain (misguided) understanding of English, such techniques sit as uncomfortably with business writing as the idea of a collie-cross running loose in the hold does with the idea of international flight. Usually, all it takes to set the client’s mind at rest is a clear explanation: questions are a way of engaging the reader’s attention; a conversational style is important for similar reasons; while conjunctions and sentence fragments add pace to website copy that should replicate spoken communication as much as possible.

Just as there must surely be travellers who will remain convinced that their plane is malfunctioning, occasional stick-in-the-muds won’t be told. But generally, people get what I’m doing with words and appreciate the benefit for engaging communication with their audience. That’s when they sit back with their metaphorical cheese toastie and Starbucks Italian Roast and enjoy the flight (read writing project) – while their Gloucestershire copywriter does what he does best from the ‘flight deck’…

Trust your copywriter. By all means ask questions, but be ready to be surprised because business writing is often rather different to the writing we were taught back at school…

And like the ‘barking dog’ on the A320, it’s nothing to be afraid of at all and merely shows that everything is happening just as it should.

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

The atomic half-life of Web content

I’ve got a  special reason to celebrate this week. It’s my fiftieth blog post as a Gloucestershire copywriter! Thank you for dropping by.

It’s going to be a short and sweet one too. I was listening to social-media expert Jay Baer when he mentioned the idea of the atomic half-life of content – the length of time before the value or usefulness of online or offline content is reduced by half. It set me thinking…

As I understood what I heard, he made the interesting point that website and blog content has the longest half-life of all content. AdWords, for instance, has a very short half-life; stop paying and the value of your campaign drops to virtually nothing with immediate effect. I’ve also seen reference to Twitter tweets having a half-life of 30 minutes.

But blog or website content? Now that’s a different thing. Your investment in high-quality content is like buying an annuity for your organisation. As well as immediate benefit, great content goes on and on serving your prospects and customers for months and years after you (or your SEO copywriter) have created it.

Combine this with everything we know about Google’s ongoing algorithm updates and the increasing importance of meaningful content for Web searchers and there’s a powerful message. Well-written copy from an online content writer is a great investment that will serve you loyally today, tomorrow and way into the future. Think website pages, online articles, customer case studies and more. The potential is unlimited and unlike AdWords, each piece of content is an investment in the future worth of your online presence.

Do you have the time, the specialist SEO copywriting skills or even the inclination to create your own long-half-life content? Not everybody does. And besides, isn’t there something else you should be doing that will utilise your unique skills more effectively? While in the meantime, that vital copy still has to be dragged off your to-do list and put out online…

Just a thought…

 

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

AIDA’s dead: long live AIDA, friend to copywriters in Cheltenham

Have you heard? AIDA’s dead. Well she, or he, or it is if you believe some copywriters.  AIDA is an invaluable acronym that has underpinned copywriting for as long as I can remember – and for decades before that too.  The name comes from the first letters of the words Awareness, Interest, Desire and Conviction. It’s a handy model for structuring anything from a sales letter to a webpage. Copywriters in Cheltenham use it, copywriters in Sweden use it and copywriters everywhere else in the world use it. If you’re not using it you should be. AIDA is the de facto standard for leading a reader through a piece of copy from headline to call to action.

aida

Recently, as I’ve read various copywriting texts, I’ve discovered writers putting the case for variations on AIDA: it’s as if they’re announcing her/his/its death as they introduce the idea of AIDCA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Conviction, Action) or AIDRA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, reason, Action) like successors to the throne of well-structured marketing copy. Personally, I feel that Messrs Maslen and Gabay respectively may be complicating things a bit. They’re both super-accomplished writers, senior statesmen of the UK copywriting scene, but I believe that original and simplest remains best.

AIDA works, and the Desire section can easily encompass conviction and reason. I can use conviction to generate desire or give a persuasive reason perfectly easily within that all-embracing D for Desire. Why complicate things. Methinks that sometimes people just like to create something new and proprietary to be different. Just a thought…

And then, just to complicate things further, when you read up on who first created AIDA,  someone comes along and suggests that the first occurrence was actually different again – AIDC, or Awareness, Interest, Desire and Conviction. That would be Frank Hutchinson Dukesmith, editor, in 1904, of Salesmanship. Maybe AIDA was an imposter after all?

Anyone got any more ideas on the subject? Post a comment and a suggestion if you can track AIDA’s birth back to before 1904! Or if you know another variation on this acronym.

This Cheltenham copywriter won’t bend the facts

I enjoyed last week’s Top Gear special about the cars featured in 50 years of James Bond films. As well as reminding me that none of us get any younger, it took me back to the 1960s, Ian Fleming’s novels and being given one of the original Corgi James Bond Aston Martin DB5s. If I recall correctly, I even had a crack at writing my own Bond-inspired spy stories…

If there was ever a master storyteller it was Fleming. He was a stickler for his facts too – a rule that Top Gear’s writers occasionally seem to bend. I’m sure that the old Fleet Street adage, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story, often apply to Messrs Clarkson, May and Hammond. It certainly seemed to be the case during the show when, prompted by Scaramanga’s getaway in The Man with the Golden Gun, Hammond got onto the subject of flying cars. In particular the ill-fated AVE-Mizar Ford Pinto-based aircraft from the early 1970s.

al hidden copywriter sketch of ave-mizar flying car

While describing how the car was considered for the film, the Hamster couldn’t resist graphically describing how the car separated from its wings and plunged earthwards. It may have made a dramatic story, but it isn’t the truth. If you’ve seen the official accident report (NTSB Identification: LAX74FUQ18), you’ll know that what really happened was a wing-strut failure before the complete car-aircraft combo crashed in flames.

But I digress… As I watched the programme, I started thinking that my objective, as a Cheltenham copywriter, is to maintain factual integrity while telling an authentic brand or product story.

I could be writing SEO copy or a case study that uses a customer’s story to convincingly sell your product. It really doesn’t matter. Either way, the secret lies in an engaging benefit-led tale. With good source material and skilled writing, little more is needed; it’s really not necessary to bend the facts for dramatic effect.

So, on that note, you won’t find exaggeration, fact-bending or economy with the truth when I write for you and your organisation. You’ll just get a great story about your product, company or brand.

And by the way, in case you’re wondering, I’m not the Stig.

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

Word macros for copywriters

I discovered Word macros relatively recently. Before that, I’d always thought of them as a rather arcane, hard-to-master aspect of Microsoft’s word-processor. Having had the confidence to experiment, I’ve discovered that a few carefully selected macros make copywriting and editing easier and faster for at least one of the copywriters in Gloucestershire!

Word macros that copywriters will use every day

Between the macros I’ve tracked down online and those I’ve recorded myself, I now have a nice suite of keyboard-accessible tools. Suddenly, a whole bunch of keystrokes or mouse clicks are reduced to a simple shortcut. Applications include toggling through different highlight colours, faster Paste Special, speeding up resetting Word’s Recheck Document function and my latest acquisition, a macro that highlights sentences longer than a set number of characters in a Word document. As a complement to the built-in Readability statistics this is a boon for any copywriter where writing-time is precious and certain repetitive tasks have to be repeated again and again.

A great free resource if you need Word macros

If you need a ready source of handy Word macros, I can’t recommend Paul Beverley’s free e-book, Macros for Writers and Editors too highly. It’s a veritable goldmine of ready to use macros that Paul has painstakingly written and generously made available to the writing and editing fraternity.

Having had some dealings with Paul online (he kindly helped me with a macro application that wasn’t in his book), I can confirm that he’s an extremely clever, really decent bloke, and ever so helpful. Read more here…

Helicopters and your Gloucestershire copywriter

A recent conversation with the owner of a Cotswold helicopter business provided a great opportunity to reminisce about the time this Gloucestershire copywriter ended up flitting around the Swiss Alps with a heli-logging crew. And how I ended up in a Bell 212 that got picked up by an AWACS in the days after 9/11. And then there was the generous support that I got from local helicopter businesses such as Polo Aviation and Heliflight for my City & Guilds Technical Communication project and my (as-yet unpublished) novel.

image by al hidden, gloucestershire helicopter copywriters

One of the highlights of my freelance copywriting career to-date was the SEO copywriting I did (through two of my clients) for Staverton-based Rise Helicopters. Add all these ‘helo experiences’ up and it makes a handy ‘helicopter CV’ as background to more work for the industry. Being interested in a subject is a great starting point for writing enthusiastically about it. Having this knowledge and experience, yet being able to stand back from the day-to-day intensity of a helicopter-related business, puts one on a great position to offer fresh perspectives.

One of my objectives for 2011 is to do some more helicopter writing. I’m getting itchy keyboard fingers and the challenge of helping another helicopter firm get their bizcomms out of a low hover and transitioning into a steep climb is an exciting one. Gotta helicopter business that could use some creative copywriting? Or maybe your agency or web company has a helicopter-business client? If so, please visit my helicopter copywriters website page for more info.

Is that the sound of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries (Walkürenritt or Ritt der Walküren) I can hear?…

Office seating for copywriters

Did you ever work out how much of the year you spend sat at your desk or computer workstation? If you’re like me it will be a lot of time; all the more reason to make sure you have the best possible seating – especially if, like me, you have suffered from back problems in the past.

When I set up my Gloucestershire copywriting business in 2006, I finally took the plunge and, advised by Nigel Eldridge at The Office Back Care Centre in Cheltenham, invested in some seriously good office seating from Norwegian manufacturer Håg. Several years on, this is proving to be one of my best business investments and a massive productivity aid. I’d recommend one of these seats to anyone in the creative industries – or any other office environment for that matter.

Copywriter seating: Håg 05 high back

This Gloucestershire copywriter loves his Håg 05 office seat

For more information on my experiences with my two ‘Norwegian beauties’, why not visit the office seating article on my website copywriter Resources page.

Helicopters, website navigation and SEO copywriting

I should have listened to the weather forecast this morning. But I didn’t, and halfway up the hill the drizzle was so dense that you could barely see across the valley. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of the helicopter through the gloom, a Sea King approaching slowly, just above the treeline, from over the village. For a moment I was back in the Rockies as Alpine’s Bell-212 approached our mountain eyrie… Then the yellow chopper circled slowly away over the escarpment and disappeared into the mist over the reservoir…

For the rest of my walk I thought about search engine optimisation. If we wanted to be found by a search and rescue helicopter we’d do all we could to make it easy: using hand signals, smoke flares or objects laid out on the ground. It should be the same with websites. Everyone knows the importance of keywords; but amazingly, as one of my SEO experts was saying just before I left the office, too many clients still don’t appreciate the importance of structuring their website (the hierarchy of pages, the site navigation and the consistent use of search terms) around identified search terms to lead humans and search engines to the content they want.

Too often, the site navigation is limited to ‘About Us’, ‘Services’ and similar terms that no one would ever search for. The clever people use a good SEO consultant to structure the site navigation around identified terms that searchers really use – then hire a skilled SEO copywriter to work their magic around ‘helicopter flight training’, ‘haulage contractors Cotswolds’ ‘copywriters in Gloucestershire’ or whatever’s appropriate.

It’s rather like standing in a big field, waving your arms at ‘Budgie’ and yelling ‘Come get me!’ We’d all do it if we really wanted to be found!

Post-CSR web copywriting: only one thing matters

It’s nearly two weeks since the announcement of the long-awaited comprehensive spending review (CSR). Up on the hill behind the village, little has changed except for the browning autumn leaves. And in boardrooms around the country, the lines are drawn between cautious optimists and those who see impending economic doom. Whether CSR proves to be the key to economic recovery or the trigger for the dreaded double-dip recession, the case for better copywriting is clear.

Back in the 1980s we were all advised to advertise through recession. We were told that brands that invested through the hard times would emerge stronger at the other end. This time around, online presence is the one thing that no business can afford to neglect. Is your website looking tired or underperforming in Google? Now’s the perfect time to invest in a makeover. Never got beyond a first generation site? How about going to the next level? Either way, words can work for you.

Whatever you decide to do, investing in better copy puts the perfect face on your web presence and complements the underlying design and SEO work. Poor copy is a surefire way to put-off human visitors (your potential customers) and the search engines alike. Good copy, on the other hand, is a great way to engage prospects and bots effectively.

Whether the CSR cloud reveals a silver lining or we dive deeper into recession, even a modest investment in those words has to be a good thing. If things get better you’re perfectly positioned to outgun your competition; if they worsen, to compete harder for business. Either way, from simple copy-editing of existing content to a wholesale copy revamp, words from one of the Gloucestershire copywriters could be working harder for you.

Let’s talk about copywriter hate mail…

I received an anonymous hate email a few months ago; it hadn’t happened before and it hasn’t happened since. And despite coming from someone in the copywriting world, it wasn’t that well written either. I quickly forgot about it and got on with being a Gloucestershire copywriter. So why, all these months later, has this incident resurfaced to prompt a cathartic blog entry?

It wasn’t the unprovoked attack on me and my business or frustration that my efforts to identify the sender led me to a temporary road-block on the information superhighway. In fact, I now have a pretty good idea where it came from – and what to do if I want to explore further…

But why waste my time on someone who isn’t prepared to put their name behind their writing? In the past I’ve received constructive comments from other copywriters; I’ve offered advice too. It’s all part of being a good online citizen.

What really set me thinking about that email again were some recent comments and testimonials from clients that (as well as confirming that I can write) endorsed my integrity and openness, and the way they always know what they’re getting from me. I also have the confidence and courage to stand behind what I say instead of hiding behind a veil of anonymity. You may agree or disagree with my ideas; we can talk about it and I’ll even concede a well-argued point. Then I’ll get on with the writing that promotes your organisation, do a great job and put my name to it with pride.

That’s the real difference between me and the anonymous emailer.