Thursday, August 25, 2011

Don't think... write.

How often have you gone to the pc and drawn a blank? Nothing comes - no inspiration, no mind-blowing ideas and certainly no writing. Well it happens to us all. Sometimes I'll stare at the screen for a while, then pick up my phone and check for messages, maybe surf the net aimlessly before eventually giving up. It's hard.

Everyone has different ways to combat this, and certain things work better than others, but my favourite has to be a walk combined with a coffee shop. Bring it on! Just being in the open air does something to the senses. All that new information bombarding the brain sparks it into action. From cars passing by, to the clouds above, or conversation all around - the brain has no option but to start working overtime, and then the ideas happen. 

Colours, sounds, smells and shapes; all things we take for granted, but for some reason, when we are out and about, and moving amongst them, ideas flood in. That's why, at the very least,  you should always carry a notepad and pen with you. Of course, an Ipad2 would be nice, but that'll have to wait until funds allow.

So what else gets the creative juices flowing?

Magazines.  Open one up and look through the pages. It doesn't matter what it is, flick through and scan the headlines. They should be show-stopping, attention-grabbing beauties, and that might help the sudden dullness you've been struck by. 

Newspapers.  Jam-packed full of stuff, good and bad. There's bound to be something in the news or adverts to spark an interest. And you might learn something on the way through. Cut out headlines that make you smile, or sad, and keep them in your ideas file. One day, you might be glad of them.

Blank paper.  And a pen. Now go and sit somewhere and start writing, anything - it doesn't matter. Once you start, so will the ideas. Force yourself to come up with headlines, stories, blog pieces, whatever. 
If you really need to force yourself, set a time limit and aim to get 20 ideas down in 10 minutes. The ideas can be useless, it doesn't matter, but the very fact your mind is working will help the whole process along. Job jobbed.

Photographs.  As much as I like to look at old pics and remember the good old days I also like to look around the actual event. The countryside in the background, the houses or a parked car. It lets the imagination take over and allows you to see more than you thought about at the time the picture was taken. Happy days.

Think of anything else?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Red Text? You having a laugh?

  • it's bright and brash,
  • it stands out from the page,
  • it's a break from the norm,
but some say we can't use it in copywriting.


Red says STOP!  It warns of DANGER!

There you are, trying to sell something on, or offline, and the last thing you want to do is risk subconsciously putting people off the deal - obviously. So that leaves you with the choice of using plain black text, or a variety of bright colours. But nothing stands out like RED!

Does it really put people off?

Well, people in sales have been warned about using it for years, for that very reason. And guess what? Things change, someone will come out and say "Stuff that, red works great!", and we're left with a dilemma. Red or black?

  • Does it look right?
  • Does it stand out?
  • Does it grab attention?
Do what feels right. It's your piece and if you follow someone else's advice, you'll never know how it might have turned out. Stand out from the rest and demand red as right!

I think it looks GREAT!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Benefits or Features? And why...

Before I got into copywriting I, like most people, had no idea what the difference between a benefit or a feature actually was. I didn't need to know, and frankly I didn't care. Whatever adverts I'd seen or read had obviously worked (or they hadn't), and I wouldn't have been able to offer any explanation as to why, if I tried.

So that got me thinking. How many people out there want to entice people into buying their product, but don't know how to offer it? Well, here goes.


The features of a product could be described as its specifications - such as your car's weight, your washing machine's speed, or the amount of blades in a disposable razor. That's all very nice to know, but does it matter to the buying public? Well, generally no.

You see, your new car might be significantly lighter than the old model, and you can see this on paper, but what does that mean to you? Nothing... yet. You could tell your friends about it, but they probably won't care either. So how could we make it more beneficial to you, or the owner?


Well, it now weighs less, so it'll almost definitely go further on the same amount of fuel. Cheaper to run - that's a benefit. It may also handle better because there's less weight to carry - yet another benefit. Suddenly, this car is sounding good, maybe better than the competition and it might be the one to own. 

Likewise, the razor with three blades might sound good (a feature), but if it's guaranteed to give a smoother shave, in less time, then the benefits start to make it look like a worthwhile purchase. And on it goes.

So, you can see the latest features, but you can feel the benefits - they make a real difference to you and your life. It's emotional, and that's how you need to appeal to the public.