digital marketing

David Abbott print ads

I fell in love with the craft of copywriting on the very first day.

This was in the early 1980s, when I had just started work at a small ad agency in London.

My idea of a fun evening was to stay up late, studying the work of the copywriters I admired most.

I’d read their ads out loud, and write then down in longhand… pen on paper.

The process helped me feel the rhythm and flow of their writing, and taught me a lot.

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Children writing at school

While we’re still just toddlers, we start to talk.

That’s an amazing thing.

Our young minds figure out the meaning of those sounds adults are making around us. More amazing still, we somehow figure out some rudimentary rules of grammar.

Nobody taught us, but we figured it out. The sounds. The words. The basic framework that allows us to put those words into sentences that can be understood by others.

Sure, our first few tries at talking weren’t very sophisticated.

But we got the hang of it soon enough.

And before too long, we became more or less fluent in the spoken word.

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Trust in marketing

Take off your marketing hat for a moment.

Think of your experiences as a regular consumer, buying stuff for yourself and your family.

Would it be fair to say that you’d be unlikely to buy from a company you don’t trust?

Doesn’t sound like something you’d feel comfortable doing, right?

OK, now put your marketing hat back on, and answer me this, “How hard do you work to earn and hold onto the trust of your prospects and customers?”

If you tell me that the trust of those people is super-important to you, excuse me while I go through all your marketing materials.

Because everything you do as a marketer either builds trust or burns it. Nothing is neutral.

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They don't like adversarial copywriting

For decades we’ve used military jargon as part and parcel of how we talk about our craft as copywriters.

Consider some of the language we use with our colleagues and clients.

Target audience. Overcoming resistance. Finding the right triggers. Killing the competition. Guerilla marketing.

Language matters. It makes a difference to how we think about our work. It makes a difference to how we think about the consumers we “target” with our writing.

There’s a them and us mentality. It’s still there. Copywriters on one side and consumers on the other.

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Isn’t it a little odd that we try to communicate with our audiences in so many different voices?

Many companies – and the writers who work with them – seem to struggle when it comes to finding a single, consistent voice for their websites.

For example, a company’s homepage might be written in a fairly cautious, descriptive tone.

Their About page may feel even more formal and corporate.

Meanwhile their sales pages are much louder and pushier, written in a voice that would be better suited to old-school, broadcast media like TV and radio.

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