I am very pleased to be spending much of my time now teaching copywriting and marketing to our very talented team.
How does one write copy for Google Adwords or for the other e-commerce channels we use?
Looking back over the course I’ve been teaching I’ve realised that the vast majority of it has been quotes from William Shakespeare, followed by William Blake.
There have been questions about why e-commerce marketing which started in 1995 has been almost entirely covered in my course by Shakespeare (1564) and Blake (1757). Am I not at least more than two centuries out of date?
The answer of course is that human beings haven’t changed that much. And indeed some of the course has even gone back to the Ancient Greek Rhetoric.
If you understand anaphora, anthimeria, archaism, assonance, asyndeton, brachylogy, chiasmus, diacope, epanalepsis, epimone, epistrophe, hyperbaton, hyperbole, irony, malapropism, metaphor, metonymy, onomatopoeia, paradox, paralepsis, polysyndeton, simile, syllepsis, synecdoche, tautology and zeugma as well as Shakespeare and Blake then you are well on your way to writing a great Google AdWord advert even if you are 200 hundred years after the masters.
One of our advisors has five things he believes a brand has got to get right in order to succeed:
- Show expertise – In the old days the only space available to show expertise was on the label which was limited to put it mildly. But customers now expect content (on web, apps and in print) that shows that a brand knows what it’s talking about.
- Personalisation – The day of the mass market brand has gone. Consumers now expect something unique for them such as Tails, Moonpig or Diet Chef with our unique recommendations and 360,000 combinations available for the diet.
- Trust – This is particularly important in food where the industry has generally got quite a bad reputation. Innocent would be a great example of a brand who have worked for deep levels of trust. Trust is of course earned over years but can be lost overnight.
- Care – This is quite a deep one covering production of the product, impact on the environment and the community and of course care of the customer.
- Innovation – It would be fair to say that the food industry has not got innovation deep in its DNA. Even heritage brands needs to innovate while preserving their provenance.
Although this is quite a heavy hitting title, many businesses say this but few actually believe it. Investment in the future sometimes is quite short term.
Building great brands takes a long time and investment sometimes takes years if not decades to recoup.
By building a balanced portfolio of brands that are at different lifecycles we can use the associated cash flows to invest in the future and for the long term. We are long term shareholders and our focus is to be measured in decades not quarters.
Marketing investment is frequently curtailed if immediate payback is not available (on your first order for example) but being able to take a longer term view allows you to really benefit from the long term value that customers see in a great product.
We see marketing as an investment – not a cost – and just like buying companies that require investment for growth – we want to ensure that marketing is measured as an investment. We are very analytical but don’t only listen to the numbers, we take multiple data points to measure our marketing investment.
A typical by-product of believing marketing is an investment is that we know that not every activity that we carry out will work, but we are relaxed as long as the majority work!
The founder of modern consumer research was George Gallup who set up the eponymous Gallup in 1935. One of his early studies for advertisers showed that when a consumer is reading a magazine, headlines in BLOCK CAPITALS are read less often than headlines in Title Case. With identical adverts, simply changing the font of the headline would increase readership of the whole advert.
David Ogilvy, one of the founders of modern advertising, makes this point in Ogilvy on Advertising which was published in 1983.
In 1963 Margaret Calvert along with Jock Kinneir were given the task of redesigning British roadsigns to make them easier to read for road safety. Of course part of her work was moving from block capital to title case, in the process becoming the first person to earn an OBE for services to typography.
The Americans finally caught up and in 2010, New York began the $27.5 million process of changing their signs from capitals to lower case for safety.
In short, there was been nearly a century of research that has constantly shown that Title Case is more effective than BLOCK CAPITALS for headlines and this research has been widely covered in the media and in the literature (if you Google you will find many more articles I could have mentioned). Why then do most adverts still use block capitals?
It’s a very good question to which I’m not sure I have a complete answer. I do think a big part of it is that marketing is simply not perceived as being a serious profession. Recently I came across a company where the Chairman’s son had been given a vital marketing role despite having no experience in the subject. It would be hard to imagine this happening in accountancy or law. We really do need similar standards being demanded for marketing as for the other professions.
Here’s a couple of classic Kwik-Fit ads:
I love both these adverts and the other 20 or so.
First of all they have great standout and even inspired a spoof.
It’s also immediately obvious from the start through to the end exactly what the advert is actually for. Surprisingly most adverts avoid making it clear who client is.
Every advert is also very focused on a USP (boring I know!). The first ad focuses on why you should trust them and the second ad shows the range of people who trust Kwik-Fit (a classic “that’s me ad”).
Jim Downie was at Hall’s Advertising when we came up with “You can’t get better than a Kwik-Fit fitter” and he visibly squirmed as I told him how much I admired these adverts but I actually think they are complete genius and earned Tom Farmer many millions of pounds. I can’t wait to see what Jim does for me.
It also reminds me of some of the arguments I have had with marketing consultants. Their view was that hiring very experienced creative directors who were older was a huge mistake and that instead we should be focusing on the new talent. I think this is completely wrong.