Saturday, April 22, 2017

REVOLUTION — Give The People What They Want!

Something occurred to me recently.
I work a lot amongst the automotive industry; it's my background, and I guess that somehow qualifies me to help garage owners and managers to increase their trade and profits.

I know when things are good because they're buying, and I know when it's quiet because they moan and ask how everyone else is doing. When no one is spending money it hits everyone, and has an effect all the way up the pipeline. 

But... there are always a certain few that remain busy all through the year. Their quiet patches are few and far between, and they don't get their knickers in a twist when it happens. So what are they doing differently?

Good service.
Like common sense, it seems to be getting less and less common.

As most consumers are aware, there are a few large chains that seem to "specialise" in ripping people off when their car is in for a service. So, you go in for your 80,000km service, to be told that you need four tyres, the brakes are worn out and the shock absorbers are past their best, and you'll need a four-wheel alignment to go with it. 

"But we can do it all today for you for $1,600 if we get started right away."

Nine times out of ten the go ahead is given over the phone because you're at work and just want the car fixed in one day so there's less inconvenience. Perfectly understandable. 

You then get hit with a massive bill you weren't originally expecting and you start to wonder how much of that list actually needed doing right now. You've been upsold and now don't feel very good about it. The car feels the same, you've quite possibly been ripped off, and you don't go back as a result.

Now that business has to find another customer to replace you, which is stupid. Realistically they want you back every six months for the life of that vehicle, and the next one too. It makes sense that you go back to the person you know. And it's far easier to retain a customer, than to find new ones.

So what do you do next time?
You ask friends and family who services their cars. And Jane, one of your neighbours, mentions a place down town that does a great job on the car, always points out what needs doing and gives her a list of the most important items. She goes away knowing what might be dangerous, and what can be left for a while etc. 

Sure, if something is unsafe they let her know and get it sorted, but always keep the parts so she can see for herself when she picks the car up. Not only that but the price is reasonable, and they put a small gift (like an air freshener) on the passenger seat every time she takes the car in.

Something small, but it feels nice. And that's the keyword. She feels good about spending money on her car, and is prepared to recommend that garage to another friend. A new customer for a couple of bucks of investment, who might bring in even more.

Being looked after.
It's easy to see where I'm going with this. If you give the customer exactly what they need, as opposed to what they sometimes want, you've probably got them for life. You've built trust with them and that counts for an awful lot. A car serviced every six months adds up to a lot of money over the years, rather than ripping someone off at one visit and never seeing them again. And that's before they've destroyed your reputation on social media too.

We all want to feel value for money. It's hard to come by and most of us have to work hard to get it. So if it matters to you, as a business owner, then show it by giving your customers the very best service you can, at a reasonable rate. 

More soon folks...

Friday, March 31, 2017

Are You Engaging With Your Customers?

A change of tact.
With my last post being a little bit serious, regarding depression, I thought it time to get back into the life blood of our businesses. Advertising. 
Whatever you do in this world, the only way people will find out about it is if you stick it right under their noses. 

  • And create interest. 
  • Show them you're the boss. 
  • Make them take notice.

Do they want to hear more, or less from you?

We realised long ago that using a conversational-style of copywriting works better in today's market. Corporate speak is boring and, to be fair, usually incomprehensible. And long sales copy may have it's place, but I somehow feel it belongs to an era where everyone had more time. And we don't.

Before everyone went online to buy all their toys, luxuries, groceries etc., we may well have spent five minutes reading through the junk mail posted through the door. And the dreaded call to action between every paragraph. Were we really that easily persuaded?

And that letter might've been left on the counter, or fridge, for our spouses to have a read through over dinner. People had more time, they discussed it, summed up the pro's and con's between them. Not anymore...

It's not to say I won't use a call to action, they're obviously needed, but it makes me cringe when I find them being thrown in, willy nilly, throughout sales copy. I maybe wrong, but I think most intelligent people, with very little time to waste on long, drawn-out sales spiel, would bin that sort of rubbish within five seconds. And I wouldn't blame them.

We're online!
Make every word count. Think about it. 

You've just rung an old friend for the first time in years. You don't chat about the fact they just drove home from the shops, had to stop for petrol and check tyre pressures, and it was pouring with rain which was really annoying (At least I hope you wouldn't chat about that). 

You'd talk about old times: Remember Tim? That time we got chased? I wonder what Sophie's doing now? We need to catch up at the King's Head. 

There's no time for boring tosh anymore, not if you want to sell your products, your service, YOU!

So what are we going to do about it?

Quite simply, we're going to write to people like they're normal human beings. Our friends, our families, the person behind the counter. It makes sense that when you're trying to talk to someone face to face you chat like they're a friend. You get a lot further doing that. 
Open persuasion puts up barriers. Like the pushy car sales guy. All you want to do is tell him to f@#k off. Be honest with yourself.

Life is too fast-paced to be hit with a two-page essay on why you should buy the latest vacuum cleaner. We want reviews from customers, real people who can write in chatty spiel, within two lines, about how their lives have been changed: 

I had my doubts, but this thing has made the day-to-day crap like housework so much easier. Now I have more fun and get to ride more. 
John, Southport.

Bang! That's it. Job done.

If two sentences from a stranger is enough to persuade you, why would a copywriter write pages of copy with twenty calls to action that would only impress an eighty-year old who grew up in that era?

They shouldn't.


Keep it snappy, use a tone that suits modern conversation, text-speak if necessary. It all depends on your target audience. Don't go over the top, test it on friends and family if you have to.

Keep Calm

For help on all the above, pop over to or give us a bell on (+61) 0403 210 654.

P.S. Bloody calls to actions, pfft.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Back Writing Copy With Vengeance!

What inspires you?
There's been a massive upset in my equilibrium lately. And it was out of my control. I was hit hard, completely blindsided and left an emotional mess.

Why am I putting this out in the public domain?

Well, I did what we all have to do occasionally, I got help from the right people... who actually cared for me. And they got me back where I belong. And to that I am eternally grateful. You see, we will all get turned over at some point in our lives. It's how we react, and who comes out running that will really define you.

What does that have to do with inspiration?

Because I lost it all. I found myself hiding within a shell of my former self. No confidence, vulnerable and unable to think clearly. The things that usually motivate me had no impact. I was completely lost. And it wasn't nice. That, my friend, is depression.

Yeah, boo hoo. Save it for the next sap. 

Hang on a sec, I got realisation. And for the first time in ages I was able to do my thinking from another place. I knew this was a temporary setback, and I realised certain things. Things like:

  • No matter how bad things get, there's always someone there to help. Reach out.
  • Look around. There's always someone worse off than you. Helping them will help you.
  • This feeling won't last forever, you will come out of this stronger and brighter.
To be inspired you need to be in a good place. It doesn't come if you're an emotional disaster. I was told recently that you can halve your IQ when you try to speak whilst emotional. That made a lot of sense to me because I was asked for my mobile number in one business and my mind went completely blank! Couldn't think of it at all and I felt like a fool.

Depression was Taboo... but not anymore

Things are getting much better around this subject. Sure, years ago we just battled on and waited for that great healer, time, to sort it all out. But don't hide from it. Don't think it will get better by itself. There are so many people out there that can help put this temporary setback to bed. And that's what it is — temporary. 
From family and friends, to professionals like doctors and counsellors. Reaching out is the important first step. I did, they helped, I feel great.

It won't happen to me!

I was cocky, I didn't look at how I was treating other people. I let things slip. It certainly was NOT going to happen to me!
In my own little world I thought I was doing ok. Beautiful family, just doing the day-in, day-out and BOOM!

I appreciate this is a strange thing to be talking about in a copywriting blog, but the truth is it will hit a lot of us during our lifetime and, if you're just a little bit aware, you could probably fix things before they start. And it might not happen due to an issue with a relationship, anything could trigger this. Family, friends, work, even the midlife things that make us wish we'd done more. Be aware.

And think about this for a minute. If this crap happens around you and your business model, it can hurt a lot. You can't afford to let personal matters get in the way. It's detrimental. Your customers know that something isn't right and it affects the way they think about you. As an employee you might be able to hide it, and workmates could cover for you. But if you're the business owner, every tiny facial expression and lack of control comes through. 

So what are we going to do? We're going to do what we always do. We look at the solution, not the problem. Because one thing I realised more than ever was the fact that there is always a solution. It might not come from you, but someone you know will come up with the gold. It's time to trust, and that can be very hard. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people in the world due to the people I could call on. And I thank them all.

Depression isn't Taboo.

It'll be hard, maybe you won't want to go on but, the truth is, there's better things ahead. I promise. If you want me to tell you something that might make your circumstances look better than you thought, try me. I guarantee an answer that'll be better than throwing it all away. Nothing is worth throwing it all away.

Yeah sure, you're a business owner, you're in charge, you're confident, nothing is going to phase you. No, no, no! Get in the real world for a moment. This sort of shit can hit at anytime. And can hit hard.

The best advice I can give (and I am in no means a professional) if you find yourself in this unfortunate position goes something like this:

  • Get some time on your own to think, you need it.
  • Any decision you make now could be detrimental, talk about it.
  • Get help through family, friends, doctors or counsellors.

Time out.
I had friends and family telling me to arrange some time to be alone and do the things I always enjoyed. The problem was I didn't feel like it. I wish I'd pushed myself harder to all that now. It's something we all need to get clarity.

Bad decisions.
In this mood you're guaranteed to make a few odd choices. Just have a think about it first. Talk with people you trust, they'll help you work things through in the best possible way. They'll have your best interests at heart. It's hard to put your trust in people sometimes. This is one of the times in your life you really need to reach out.

Who do I ask?
Some of the closest people to me advised going to a doctor as well as trying to help me themselves. It was the best thing I could've done. Left to my own devices I wouldn't have bothered. Since then, things have only moved forwards.

As long as you get the help you need, you will come out of this stronger than ever. Don't ever feel ashamed, or weak, just because the unconfident you needs somebody to help. This is an experience, and you can learn from this and grow. Come out fighting, come out stronger, make it a positive. 

See you on the other side.

Ben Vaughan — Copywriter.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Volvo Trucks... When Advertising Blows You Away!

The first few seconds had me wondering what was going to happen. It was great to see Van Damme in something new, but what was it all about? Then I was left in utter awe, goose pimples the lot. Enya's "Only Time" is just perfect for this ad. 

Whoever came up with this deserves a raise!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

If you can't update your blog every week, bin it!

How slack have I been?
Family commitments, hobbies and work have taken their toll. It's been months and months between blog posts!
It's not that there's nothing to say, quite the contrary, but sometimes things fall by the wayside.

Your business blog.
Any marketer will tell you, if you're not able to make regular posts on your business blog, get rid of it. A lack of posts has a detrimental effect on a customer's perception "Are they still trading?".
I'm especially guilty of this, but left it up there anyway. I couldn't bear to delete this blog and kept telling myself I'd go back to it one day. But it took months.

Regular content can show people there's new and exciting things happening in your business. It's like the OPEN/CLOSED sign being turned over everyday on a shop door. Unfortunately, mine must have been showing CLOSED for a long time. 

Even simple comments, like Tweets, can at least show some activity. "Just making a brew." might get boring everyday but, as a one-off, at least tells the world someone's home.

I'm leaving it at that for today. Another commitment just popped up and he needs his breakfast.

More soon...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

How Not To Write Your Curriculum Vitae! Brilliant.

It's all about the delivery. The best CV in the world might not get you the job, but just take a look at these...

20. SIZE OF EMPLOYER: “Very tall, probably over 6’5″.”

How would you keep a straight face? Anyway, thanks to Nathan Lloyd for this great blog post. 
Click on the link below and enjoy.

The 100 Funniest Things We've Read In A CV

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When Should I Market My Business?

A common question amongst new, and established, business owners.
I speak to a lot of small business owners daily, and the differences in advertising perception are often startling. And yes, it's a very personal thing. 

"This is right, that's wrong blah blah blah" 

I love to get in and throw around different ideas/methods of marketing, but within a few moments of striking up a conversation with someone new, it's easy to see how it will go. 
I'm going to try and "label" my favourite three here.