Tag Archives: marketing

Season’s Greetings 2014 from Al Hidden, Gloucestershire Copywriter

season's_greetings_from_alh

Al Hidden is an experienced Gloucestershire based copywriter specialising in Client case study writing, 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.

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.

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.

Pro bono charity copywriting in Shetland

I was up in Shetland recently, enjoying a week of great weather, delicious food and good company with family. As one of the busy copywriters in Gloucestershire, I really needed a break. Mrs H and I have visited Shetland before, and it’s always been a rewarding experience. This time was no exception – in more ways than one.

Trondra, Shetland

Another pro bono copywriting client

As well as getting roped in to do a guest blog entry for a local organic lamb and beef farm at Uradale, above Scalloway, I also added another animal welfare charity to my select portfolio of pro bono copywriting causes.

 

Gloucestershire copywriter and otters crossing sign in Shetland

I like to help worthwhile causes

As I’ve said before, one of the founding principles of my freelance copywriter business was to use my skills to help worthwhile causes. Sometimes, this means pro bono work; for others, it means a discounted copywriting rate. And of course, I’ve got to relate to the cause. Otherwise, it’s impossible to write with passion and conviction. Since 2007, I’ve written regularly for the North Devon Animal Ambulance (NDAA). I’ve learned that behind most animal welfare stories there’s a human benefit too. I like that.

Seal pup at Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, Shetland

Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, Shetland

While up in Shetland, a chance meeting with Jan Bevington, founder of the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, led to me offering my copywriting services for newsletter, website and brochure writing. Her response was positive, so I’m looking forward to promoting Hillswick’s otter and seal rescue work over the months ahead.

You can read more here…

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…

Troubleshooting devolo dLAN 200 AVSmart+ powerline networking problem

As a busy Gloucestershire copywriter, inspiration and creativity can come anywhere. Sometimes a change of writing scene can help, which is why, like last year, I’ve moved up from my basement office to our conservatory for the summer. Unfortunately, the dining room table is at the furthest end of the room – the one part of the house that isn’t reached by wireless…

Last year, to get around this,  I bought the devolo dLAN 200 AVSmart+ powerline networking starter kit. It worked beautifully out of the box. But this year, after a week of operation, the two Homeplugs refused to synch. With a deadline approaching, I was tearing my hair out. In the end I contacted devolo in Aachen, Germany. Fortunately, they were able to help me out with a solution that I hadn’t been able to discover in the user guide or online. If you’ve experienced problems getting two devolo Homeplugs to synch, this might help you too.

Here’s what they told me to do and why I’m a happy. conservatory-based Gloucestershire copywriter again. Read more here…