We all speak English. I just happen to do it for a living.

One Person Will Write. Two People Will Stare at Each Other.

Posted: June 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: editing, interactive marketing, management | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

As I’ve been trying to ramp up the blog at Webtrends, one of the things I have to do is shoot out ideas to people and ask them to write something. Often, there’s more than one person who could write it. Or I want to do a Q&A with multiple experts.

Groups Suck
What I’ve found is that sending one email and cc’ing multiple people routinely fails at generating anything. They all stare at each other and assume someone else who is less busy than them will take care of it. And after all, it’s just the blog. It’s not like the earth will stop turning if we don’t post something.
Read the rest of this entry »

Tips for Writing Interviews

Posted: June 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: copywriting tips, editing, interactive marketing, management | No Comments »

When interviewing people, I think young writers can get a little carried away with the Rolling Stone-ness of it all. They want to describe their subjects’ looks and the way they treat the waitress and the African art on the wall. And maybe that’s important. Maybe there’s enough space to fit all of that in. Maybe the person is famous enough to warrant it. But usually not.

This is the real world where you’re interviewing CEOs of small businesses. And the reader typically needs to get something out of it — if you’re not thinking ahead about why the reader would bit.ly your link and send it along, you’re dooming yourself to obscurity.
Read the rest of this entry »

Inside Sales

Posted: May 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: copywriting tips, management, posted via iPhone | No Comments »

I had a writer editing a whitepaper today, and he was really carving into it. I suggested he take it to the author — a product manager — and start selling the edits early on.

He didn’t like the idea. Said there’s no better way than to just give back the text all marked up.

I approached it differently:

“You’re gonna scare the crap out of them with so many edits. Show them a few examples of your edits before you finish. Get them comfortable with those. Then they won’t fight as much when you hand it back mostly rewritten.”

He said he’d try.

When you have time to do so, sharing work early makes life easier. People get bought in. You can incorporate good ideas. You make them a participant. You spread the accolades.

The risk you run is that you share an idea too early, and the critical feedback you hear nips a good idea before it can bloom. This often happens when you’re still exploring a concept, and the unfinished nature of it freaks people out.

It’s more important with original work than edits. But if you deliver a piece back that’s bleeding with red ink, you’re best served prepping the soon-to-be-bruised ego. It’s not heartbreak if they agree with you.

So here’s my test about when to start you inside sales job. If you can answer yes, then go start selling:

Can you explain it to your significant other?

Does it have a catchy headline or tagline?

Do you have a specific concept or idea you want feedback on?

With those, you will represent the concept well. You will give your audience a fully-formed thought. And you will likely get some decent feedback as you put on your inside sales hat.

Email Marketing in 1,500 Words or Less

Posted: October 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: email marketing, interactive marketing, management | 1 Comment »

I have a friend applying for a project management job with a local company that focuses on email marketing. She’s an excellent project manager, but doesn’t have much experience with email marketing. I don’t have anything else going on, so I wrote up a primer to get her through the interview.

GmailI can’t say it’s the best organized writing in the world, but perhaps handy if you’re trying to quickly understand email marketing.

How Marketers Measure Success in Email

  1. Numbers of emails successfully sent: Sometimes you get bounces, spams, or bad emails. It’s good to track those numbers and clean the list occasionally.
  2. Open rate: Total emails sent out / Emails opened = open rate percentage. The biggest three contributors to whether people open an email are:
    1. Do I know who sent this to me? The name and email address in the from: field.
    2. Is the subject line interesting to me? Words like “Free” usually end up in spam, but knowing that it’s the user’s birthday or that their anniversary is coming up can generate interest. The more relevant personal information you can add in the subject line (in a way that’s not creepy), the higher your open rate.
    3. Is this a good time to talk to me about this? Emails about insurance sent at 5 pm on a Friday? Not going to get opened. Emails about “three fashion tips you already have in your closet” at 4 pm on a Friday might get opened for the “going out” crowd.
  3. Click-through rate: Total emails sent / # of clicks in all emails. Typically, just like a web page, the biggest visual will get the most clicks. And the stuff at the top of the page will get the most clicks. Know what your client really wants from their email campaign, and put it up there.
  4. Spams and Unsubscribes: A certain number of people will categorize your email as spam and a certain number will unsubscribe. Marking an email as spam is easier than unsubscribing, and many people use it. It kinda sucks, but you’ll get a few. Unsubscribe is fine, because you can  at least offer them incentives for staying in the course of unsubscribing, like a free flashlight or something. Or you can ask why they’re leaving: “Hey wow, bummer. Did we not send you interesting content? Maybe you could choose from one of these three things to help us do better next time.” At least you get a very short exit interview.

Read the rest of this entry »

“No Man is Poor Who Has Friends”

Posted: October 3rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: management | No Comments »

Week 1 of funemployment?

Tough.  A lot of near misses. A lot of helpful emails. Tons of support from the best cast of friends I could ever hope for. A few meetings with a lot of coffee and a fair amount of beer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Business Cards on the Way

Posted: September 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: management | No Comments »

Just ordered business cards from moo.com because, yes, my copywriting services are for hire. Plus the Moo interface slays with its simplicity. Highly recommend them. I wrote different sayings on the back, with just my name and contact info on the front.

My business cards, from Moo.com

My business cards, from Moo.com

  • People like to like things.
  • You can’t bore people into buying.
  • Your friendly neighborhood copywriter.
  • We all speak English. I happen to do it for a living.
  • LOL
  • Will write for money.
  • Words that make the page bleed.
  • The word “solution” is never the solution.
  • People love stories.

They’re supposed to arrive Oct. 6. We’ll see.

King Retail Solutions: Really? “Solutions” as Navigation Item?

Posted: September 3rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: creative, interactive marketing, krs, online copywriting, portfolio | No Comments »

For a short period of time down in Eugene, I took a job as Marketing Coordinator of King Retail Solutions. They did interior design and fabrication for retail. The fact that they did both design and manufacturing was the “solution.”

The King Retail Solutions homepage.

The King Retail Solutions homepage. Click for a larger view to read. We got a new client in Europe within a week of launching the site, who specifically said it was because of the site.

I fought solutions. A lot. I mean seriously. You want one navigation item to be the word, “solutions” and the other to be the word, “integrated”?

Read the rest of this entry »

SPARQ: Magazine and Website

Posted: September 3rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: portfolio, sparq | No Comments »
Every city has a dive like this. The neon sign says it's "The Post," but it's really a gauntlet...

Slam City, a knock off of Sin City. "Every city has a dive like this. The neon sign says it's 'The Post,' but it's really a gauntlet..."

SPARQ stands for speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness. The sports company’s goal was to scientifically improve the training that young athletes did — focusing less on the weight room and more on well-rounded athleticism.

It was a fantastic job. Combine my love of sports, coaching, and teaching, then add in a team of psychotically brilliant people who’d rather work until midnight than accept mediocrity. We did five years’ of worth in one year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ending Interruptions in the Office

Posted: August 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: copywriting tips, interactive marketing, management, social media | No Comments »

Cross-posted from my Pop Art blog.

There are Two Types of People in the World: Makers and Managers

There are two types of people in your office, Makers and Managers. And scheduling a meeting with Maker can kill that person’s effectiveness for the day, according to Paul Graham.

I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there’s sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I’m slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning.

Makers Need Uninterrupted Time

Makers do the work — at Pop Art, our Makers are designers, developers, programmers, writers, designers and media planners. These people create the work that ends up online. Here’s how Graham describes the conundrum Makers face.

They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ad Testing: Use Facebook CPC Instead of Polling

Posted: July 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: facebook, interactive marketing, management, posted via iPhone, social media | 1 Comment »

How do you test an awareness campaign with traditional and online display media? What if you ran a Facebook cost-per-click campaign that tested all your messages and offers across your demographics?

By doing minimal targeting — regions, for example. Or another variable not expected to influence results — then you could compare the percentage of impressions to the percentage of clicks to tell how varying demographics respond to your messages and offers.

In other words, instead of paying an ad testing company to poll customers, you can use Facebook to extend your campaigns for similar actionable data and yet more impressions. Ad testing can extend your campaign, rather than merely being an added cost.

Read the rest of this entry »