Category Archives: Copywriting

Regulatory Affairs and Marketing

The small print means nothing.

If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that no one reads the small print.FDA Cartoon

But when they do, they still don’t really care what it says. Because we have grown numb to the warnings that so many government agencies have made mandatory.

Think about it: when you see that a product contains an ingredient that the state of California deems as harmful or causes birth defects, don’t you normally just make fun of the granolas in California rather than think much of the warning?

When you hear a commercial on TV for a pharmaceutical, don’t you just laugh when they start rolling through all the possible side effects?

And yet, we as marketers often fight tooth and nail for certain claims, cussing the institution that ever said a supplement can’t treat a disease, or that an insecticide can be “botanical” but not “natural.”

Keep fighting, but don’t fret the ones you lose. Thanks to the over-saturation of governmental warnings on products today, nobody really thinks much higher of them than you do.

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The 10 Most “Robust” Words in Marketing Today

Cutting Edge AdvertisingDavid Meerman Scott has identified what he calls the top 10 “Gobbledygook” phrases used in press releases today. His entire manifesto is quite entertaining and informative, but I thought the top words would be worth a mention here.

How many are using on a regular basis?

  1. “Next generation”
  2. “Flexible”
  3. “Robust”
  4. “World-class”
  5. “Scalable”
  6. “Easy to use”
  7. “Cutting edge”
  8. “Well-positioned”
  9. “Mission-critical”
  10. “Market-leading”

Honorable Mention: “groundbreaking”

I’m guilty; are you?

What Are You Really Buying?

Lawn MowerMy neighbor two doors down runs a landscaping service. He does a really good job, and he makes you pay for it, too. So while I appreciate the work he has done on my yard up this point, I did have one major problem with it:

He charges me $21 every time he mows my measly little yard.

Now, let me get you up to speed on the size of my yard. We could barely fit a kiddie pool into it if we wanted to. About 10 steps gets you from the front of the front to the back of the back. It probably takes 15 minutes to mow and weed the whole thing.

So, I wasn’t gonna do it. We just moved into the house last August, and I haven’t bought a mower yet, so I’ve bit the bullet and had him mow it up this point. But I was pretty adamant on taking care of it myself this spring. I mean, in Texas, you easily have to mow once a week – that’s $84 a month I’m gonna pay for this. Plus, I’m a man – I can take care of my own yard.

Then I started to think about what was really at stake. For one, I don’t always get around to stuff I plan to get around to. Great at planning the work; not so good at working the plan. In the case of a yard, I could easily see that leading to lots of weeds and a shoddy sidewalk. And that means an irritable and ashamed me, an irritated wife, and an ugly yard in a pretty well-kept neighborhood.

Then I remembered how hot it gets in Texas during the summer (and by that I mean April – September).

Then I remembered how much I’ll have to spend to buy a mower and weedeater and all that.

So I realized that I’m not really paying my neighbor to mow my small yard; I’m paying him to keep me in a good mood, out of the heat, out of the lawn equipment business and, probably most importantly, to keep my wife happy. And that’s worth a lot more than $84 a month.

So here’s the point: what are your customers and prospects really buying? Cuz it’s rarely what you think you’re selling. More times than not, it’s an experience, not just the product or service.

You are part of the 40%

A telling bit of news here on Steve Rubel’s blog about new bloggers and new blog readers. Seems as though 40% of the population has a least read a blog post in the last year, and it’s climbing at a staggering pace. Interestingly enough, the number of bloggers is rather steady.

Here’s a quick two cents on this:

  • An increase in reading vs. a flatline in writers = more bloggers seen and recognized as pretty reliable authorities in their areas.
  • Content is king; give people something worth their time, and they’ll come back.
  • Make it quick – one of the beauties of reading blogs is that it is in crumb-sized pieces, and it’s focused.

You Can Run . . . .

Head in the sandSeth Godin has a great post here that speaks to our nature as business people (and humans) to stick our heads in the sand and hope that if we don’t bring it up, they won’t notice it.

Your customers will always, ALWAYS appreciate you being upfront. They will never, NEVER like finding out from someone other than you. So if you have bad news, don’t hide it. And if there’s something about your product that isn’t optimal (like lots of calories or poor gas mileage), definitely don’t hide it. Either fix it or accept it, but don’t hide it.

I mean, if you’re choosing to hide something about the product that you think is great, isn’t there something very wrong and confusing about that?

Beware the Creatives

Creative departments and agencies often won’t get it. In fact, you should assume they won’t. They’re wired to think abstractly, on the edge. And that’s why you hired them – to a point.

Sometimes the creative team can bully you into a certain design, certain copy, certain concept. They know what’s hip, what’s cutting edge (again, that’s why you hired them, right?). So while your gut might be telling you that a web banner with a skull and crossbones might not be the best choice for your new all-natural nutritional elixir, the lead designer can often sway you with talk of white space, font choice, primary colors and other stuff to make you second-guess yourself. They might even make you think that you’re being too cliché. Too old-fashioned. Not daring enough.

So here’s the point, Marketer: don’t allow your creatives to miss the forest for the trees (too cliché?). Don’t let their drive to be “creative” intimidate you away from making the project a business success. Don’t let their brainstorming turn into a natural disaster. And never let them convince you that they’re in charge. You are in charge of making the idea successful, and design is a piece of that puzzle. Albeit a very important piece, but a piece, nonetheless. If the piece they’re giving you doesn’t fit the puzzle you’re working on, get them to make you one that does.

A well-designed bad idea will be nominally successful at best. Focus on the idea. Focus on the end-goal. When the starting point and the ending point are clear, you can confidently lead all your supporters (esp. the creatives) toward that goal with ample latitude but with a resoluteness that is essential to anything substantial. And that’s what they’re looking for, Marketer.

p.s. The creatives are actually a big part of your success, so don’t completely ignore them. That’s another post, though.

Blogging vs. Advertising

Brian brings it back to the future with this post, The David Ogilvy Playbook for Business Blogging. In a nutshell, as we’re all learning, stop shouting at people to be your customer and start a conversation with them so they want to be your customer.