marketing

Just an observ-ation

The other day I ordered something online and immediately received an email from the delivery company. The email contained a link to a website where I was able to track my parcel’s progress, change the delivery day and time, or ask for it to be left with a neighbour. Very impressive.

I clicked through to a very clear, easy to read table charting my parcel’s status: 1) Collected. 2) At Sortation Facility…  woah – hold on a second. Sortation Facility? It had me giggling and hooting with derision in equal measure. Sortation Facility. Purleeeese.

What’s wrong with sorting office all of a sudden? Does using a made up word make it more important? Do people who work in ‘sortation facilities’ (sortation facilitators?) feel more valued than their counterparts in mere sorting offices?  I doubt it.

The suffix ‘ation’ seems to have attached itself to other words as well in a rather mistletoe-like, parasitic sort of way (but without mistletoe’s prettiness or usefulness).

‘Expiration date’ is another mind-boggler. Why the need for the suffix? Why not good old-fashioned ‘expiry’?

Don’t get me wrong – I like new words. But only if they express or describe something better than the original word, or if they represent something new.

I like the way ‘random’ became used to describe something that was a little odd or unexpected. And I particularly love ‘earworm’. It perfectly describes that irritatingly catchy tune that rattles around in your head all day until something else equally irritating and catchy replaces it. (And why is it always just one line? Over and over and over.)

I digress. Back to ‘ation’. Adding this suffix seems to be adding for adding’s sake. It’s not useful. It doesn’t give clarity. It doesn’t tell us something we didn’t know about the thing it’s representing, so why do it? It just makes a word five letters too long.

Sortation facility aside, the service was great. I even got an email giving me the name of the driver… or should that be deliveration facilitator?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lesson in clear, succinct copy… from an estate agent

I’m sure I’m not the only one to be inundated with leaflets from local estate agents clamouring to sell my house. And I’m sure I’m not alone in consigning the majority of them to the bin without reading beyond the headline. Especially the one with the headline that read ‘Recent Let’s Agreed’. Sadly, I kid you not.

Anyway, one day last week a leaflet dropped through the letterbox that really broke the mould. It was from the Surbiton office of Hawes & Co and it grabbed my attention immediately.

Read the rest of this page »

Marketing confessions of a shy, retiring copywriter

When I saw Jupiter Jasper Marketing’s blogging competition, http://bit.ly/lpyv7p, I thought I’d give it a go and enter. For one it gives me a topic for a blog post – not always easy to find when you’re busy. And it’s a chance to share some of the things I’ve learnt in business. The topic for the competition is ‘My biggest lesson in marketing so far’, so here’s mine: consistency.

Read the rest of this page »

Why choosing the right words is essential if you want to engage your audience

A lesson in subtlety from World War ll

courage-300px_1Writing copy for marketing materials is about much more than describing your business. In my post ‘Let me tell you a story’,  I wrote about the power of painting a picture for your audience and the importance of choosing words that will engage them.  Well, I’ve just come across a great example from the Second World War of why you need to keep your audience in mind all the time you’re writing.

The Home Publicity Division of The Ministry of Information managed to alienate its target audience with its first poster. Created to boost morale, the poster had the opposite affect because it read:

your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution will bring us Victory.’ Not surprisingly, it prompted people to wonder who exactly you and we were in that equation!

Read the rest of this page »

Let me tell you a story

current_issue_summer2011I’ve just read a great article in Intelligent Life – The Economist’s quarterly magazine – by Robert Butler an arts and environmentalist blogger.

Basically it’s about getting your message across, and Butler uses environmentalists to make his point. Now, I’ve no idea whether or not this is true but he claims they have a tendency to hit people with stats, results and conclusions.

He says this closes the subject down and doesn’t allow the other person’s mind anywhere to go. His recommendation to Greens is to ditch information overload, “in favour of suggesting details that actually catch people’s interest and allow the other person to get involved.”

It’s good advice that also applies to our marketing materials.

Read the rest of this page »

Think like your customer

Setting up internet banking for an account that’s been open for 18 months proved rather more difficult for my partner, Graham, than he imagined.

I won’t go into everything that went wrong; I want to highlight one thing in particular to show how important it is to be clear and put ourselves in our customers’ shoes. Nowhere is that more important than in our copy.

Read the rest of this page »

One hundred million trillion ways to sum up your business

Whatever you’re writing, whether it’s  a business letter, web page, newsletter item, or brochure,  finding the right words isn’t easy.  You have to choose words that clearly and succinctly sum up your business, service or product . And they have to resonate with your audience. But if you think that’s difficult how about this for a fact? There are up to one hundred million trillion ways you could write a 20 word sentence.

Read the rest of this page »

Hello. I'm Elaine, I'm a copywriter and this is my blog.

It's mostly about words and writing - things that inspire me, entertain me, and make me smile. Sometimes it's about things that horrify me so much I want to scream and shout!

I hope you enjoy it and find it useful. And speaking of useful - scroll down and take a look at the Oxford Dictionaries tool.

Click here to find out a bit more about me.

Word Alchemy Blog