May 29, 2015 8:32 am
Many businesses when they think about offering high quality think that this only applies to their products and services. However, when it comes to your brand and the marketing activity used to promote your business and its products and services, quality should be at the top of your agenda.
The quality of your communication, messages, content, design, website, presentations, etc… directly influence the overall viewpoint that your customers will have of your business. Many organisations make the same mistakes when it comes to the quality of the marketing activity that they put out into the world and they just don’t realise the negative impact that this is having on their brand.
Common mistakes when it comes to compromising on the quality of their marketing include;
- Do it yourself design
There are a wide range of affordable graphic design packages out there, however, great design isn’t just about the tools used. There is a science involved in ensuring that a message is communicated correctly and that the design catches your customer’s eye for the right reasons. This all has to carry your customers through to taking the required action, such as picking up the phone, completing your enquiry form, or pressing the Buy Now button.
- Poorly written content
Just like design, there is a science to writing content that sells. Badly written content will create a bad impression and even discourage customers from buying from you. Common mistakes in this area include not proofreading your content and publishing it with spelling and grammatical errors, not having a call to action, and leaving out vital information that could have encouraged your customer to contact you.
- The clip art logo
Your logo is the most tangible element of your brand, it’s a large part of distinguishing yourself from your competitors, and it’s often what your customers see first before they find out anything else about you. Investing in a high quality logo is one of the best things that you can do for your business, it will be with you a long time and is probably more affordable than you think. Nothing drags down the quality of a website or other marketing materials than a badly designed logo.
- A badly developed website
These days a company’s website is the most powerful bit of online real estate that they have. It’s also more than likely going to be the first thing that your potential customer will see of your brand. The design and usability of your website is vitally important. We are impatient when it comes to getting access to the information that we want, if it isn’t easy to find or your website is slow to load then people will leave and many get what they want from one of your competitors.
A well designed and functional website can be a key tool in helping you to grow your business. It can encourage a steady flow of enquiries, showcase your products and services, and be used as a platform for promoting great content.
We may be biased when it comes to promoting the use of a marketing agency to ensure that your marketing communications and materials are of the highest quality. However, you really do get what you pay for and high quality marketing is most definitely worth the investment.
Marketing is always better with Ketchup added, contact us today on 0330 088 9277 to discuss your requirements in more details. Alternatively, you can complete our online enquiry form
September 12, 2014 8:22 am
There is nothing more likely to put off your customers than badly written copy, whether it’s on your website, in an email, or as part of an advertisement. Badly written copy gives the impression that the business simply isn’t interested in the finer details.
Unfortunately, as important as well written copy is, many businesses don’t feel that it warrants investment. Many write their copy themselves and don’t consider hiring a professional copywriter to do the job. This is a mistake we see made by businesses of all sizes, from freelancers to multi-million pound corporations. Everyone thinks that writing copy is easy, we all like to think of ourselves as writers and to a certain extent we are, but when it comes to writing copy for your business there are a few fundamental points that you should take into account before you attempt to produce copy yourself:
It’s not all about the words – producing copy and content that people will respond to is a skill, some may even say it’s an art. When we say it’s not all about the words, we are talking about the need to take into account the structure of your copy, the tone of voice used, and the ability to craft a persuasive call to action to ensure that you get your audience to respond in the right way.
The structure dictates how the reader progresses through the information you are providing them with. Starting the copy on your website page, in your brochure, or email the wrong way can mean that the reader never even gets beyond the first line, let alone clicks on the Buy Now button. If they do read on, you have to present the information you want them to see in the right way and order, leading them gently through and increasing the chances of engagement with your company, purchase of your product, etc…
Similarly, the tone of voice that you use has to be right for the audience you are speaking to. Use slang, acronyms, or language in the wrong way and you could lose your reader.
You need a plan – it’s not uncommon to think that to write effective copy you simply sit down and start bashing away at the keyboard. However, the best content is planned content, in the same way that Graphic Designers have to spend time thinking about and planning what they are going to design, you need to know what you are going to write about and how. Even sitting down and listing the key points you want to make, and the most effective order you can make them in, will put the finished piece ahead of much of the copy out there.
Proofreading is vital – we often see copy on websites, in adverts and emails, even in glossy brochures and annual reports, which obviously hasn’t been proofread. Even the smallest spelling mistake can damage the acceptance of the information you are trying to present. This can be easily changed on a website, but it becomes more of a costly mistake if you have invested in a print run before noticing the error.
Make sure that the copy is run by an effective proofreader before you publish it – never proofread copy you’ve written yourself. You often read what you think is on the page rather than what’s actually there.
Whether you are designing a new brochure, having a new website built, or compiling your next newsletter, the quality of the copy is key. At Ketchup marketing we’ve helped many of our clients through our professional copywriting services and it’s true to say that they have often seen results far beyond their wildest expectations.
If you would like to discuss your copywriting requirements, please contact Michelle on 0330 088 9277 for an informal discussion or use the contact form here.
August 15, 2014 8:58 am
Continuing our A-Z of marketing we are talking about blogging. The truth is that blogs are one of the most effective ways you can promote your business today. In the age of content marketing, the more useful information you can offer your customers and potential customers the better. You may have heard the term content marketing used a lot recently and it is something that you should be including in your marketing activity.
So what is content marketing? In a nutshell, it’s offering your customers information that they will find useful without obviously selling your products and services. Content marketing includes activities such as whitepapers, eBooks, vlogs, informational videos, hints and tips, and of course blog posts.
Running a blog is cost effective, easy to do with the right content, and can offer your business a number of key benefits such as:
- Encouraging engagement with your business and its products and services – people love to read information that is designed to be useful to them. If you provide engaging and informative blog posts you will build up a following of people interested in the information, and hopefully, the products and services you provide. Research by Content Plus shows that company websites with regularly updated blogs result in 55% more visitors.
- Positioning your business as a thought leader – this is perfect for high information and knowledge based industries such as marketing, IT, business consultancy, accountancy etc… or industries where the values of purchases are high and involved such as car manufacturers and retailers, or leisure and travel companies. By putting useful, informative, and non salesy blog content onto your website, or contributing as a guest blogger, you can soon build yours and your company’s reputation as a thought leader in your industry. People buy from people and companies that know what they are doing.
- Increase trust – if someone has never brought from your organisation before, or they buy from you rarely, you can build an element of trust through your blog. As people read the information you put out there they will begin to get a better understanding of who you are, what you do and the benefits of using your products and services. This will build an element of trust and hopefully encourage them to purchase from you.
- Increase your organic rankings in relevant search results – new and well written content is hugely beneficial to businesses in terms of being placed higher in organic search results, in fact Google has recently made changes to its algorithm so that useful content, such as blog posts, are rewarded more highly. According to Content Plus, blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.
- Increase your market reach – people love to share and if you are providing useful and informative content on your blog it will be shared. This will increase awareness of your brand, products, and services; your audience will expand naturally, all you had to do was post some great content.
As with any marketing activity, if you do decide to add blogging to your marketing plan, there are pitfalls you should try to avoid. We help a number of clients get noticed through their blog so here are some tips for doing it right.
- Pick the right topics – the topics have to be useful and something that people would want to read. Offering advice, hints and tips, or an explanation of industry developments are always useful places to start.
- Jump on anything newsworthy – if something comes up in your industry that’s relevant to your customers, for example new legislation, a technological development, or even a failure of some kind, get your blog writer on it immediately. As news spreads people will be searching for relevant content, if you are one of the first to provide it you could get more exposure that you could ever get through paying for a print advertisement or attending an exhibition.
- Make sure your blogs are well written – this goes without saying, but for your opinion and information to be trusted your blog posts must be well written and easy to read. If they’re not people could switch off from the message you are trying to get across and you have lost any impact.
- Respond to comments – allow people to comment on your blog posts and you could receive some interesting insights and get into some useful discussions. Showing that you are happy to engage with people on your blog is great for your reputation.
- Market your blog posts – once your blog post is live you need to let people know that it’s there. Post a link on your social media networks and include the link in any email marketing you do. You can also find relevant topics on social media networks such as LinkedIn and on other blogs and comment on the topic whilst pointing people to your blog post. As you go on and your followers increase your content will be shared by them, it’s a bit of a snowball effect.
If you are looking for some help planning, writing, and marketing your blog posts then give Michelle or Kate a call on 0330 088 9277 today or use our contact form here.
December 12, 2013 11:17 am
Being paid for doing a job well feels great but getting good feedback feels brilliant – and not all of the projects we do for clients are big expensive strategy documents, sometimes all your business needs is a simple solution, as long as it is well-thought through and executed properly.
So when we recently produced this flyer for a client (pic below) we were confident it would have a positive impact on their bottom line, which is ultimately what marketing is for – to help your business attract profitable customers.
Here’s what our client said…
“I can’t lie…the response has been awesome! What would have been a very poor month has, within the last week turned into a good one! The foot flow and telephone enquiries have increased and the quality of customers has been good. It’s something we’ll definitely do again.”
Not all marketing activity needs to be budget-busting! A simple case of analysing the situation, understanding your client and communicating with your target audience effectively can make a huge difference. Whether it’s a flyer, press advert, brochure, simple web presence through complete campaign, re-brand, social media strategy and management or ecommerce-websites – we won’t try and sell you something more than you actually need.
We work by the KISS principle – Keep it Simple, Stupid! So, want some Ketchup with that?
Need a simple solution to your marketing problem? Just pick up the phone and speak to Michelle on 0330 088 9277 or contact us here – yes it really is that simple
“Hi, I am rich, marry me!”
June 26, 2013 10:00 am
Gary stumbled across this joke again on Twitter the other day about marketing that has been doing the rounds for a while, but we thought it was still worth sharing…
“You see a gorgeous girl at a party and you say to her “Hi, I am rich, Marry me!” ~ That is Direct Marketing.
If she walks up to you and says, “Hi, you are very rich, I want to marry you” ~ That is Brand Recognition.
If you call her the next day and say, “I am very rich, Marry me” ~ That is Telemarketing.
If she slaps your face when you say “Marry me” ~ That is Customer Feedback.”
Funny? We liked it. But we also smile at this bit that can be added on:
“One of your mates says that there’s a gorgeous girl you should marry” ~ That’s social marketing.”
And hopefully, in a nutshell, that explains why using social media can help your business. Using Twitter and Facebook give you the opportunity to share not only your thoughts and ideas, but also good contacts via great public testimonials. 3rd party endorsements have massive influence and, if harnessed correctly, can be a hugely important addition to your over-arching marketing strategy.
If you think you “could do better” (as my teacher used to say!) with using social media as part of your marketing mix, then drop Michelle a line on 0330 088 9277. She is married though, so don’t go getting any funny ideas 🙂
May 20, 2013 11:17 am
Ever look at your own website and think it’s not quite up to scratch? Fed up of the familiar colourways, images and calls to action? Don’t worry. That’s perfectly normal. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs are those who are most self-critical – they’re always trying to improve and innovate, and there’s nothing bad about that.
All of your online and offline marketing presence whether it’s your tweets, press adverts or glossy brochures have been created by you and your agency to pitch you differently to those of your competitors. And bench-marking them against what your competition pumps out is a good exercise to do now and then – but don’t compare them like-for-like – yours are meant to be different – that’s half the point.
It’s easy to get bored with the way your business presents itself when you are in the thick of it, day in-day out. And that’s often the case with your blog articles too. You scrutinise them, pick holes in them, spell-check them, read them over and over again for some grammatical flaw that you think everyone will notice (but chances are they probably won’t) so it’s no wonder that you pause just before you hit ‘publish’ … of course you’re going to be bored of them if you’ve just spent hours writing/rewriting and generally faffing around with them to achieve some kind of impossible perfection.
This is where you need to go and do something totally different, grab a cuppa with a business associate or maybe a mentor who you can trust to give you a bit of reassurance. This is the better response than running off to a new agency crying “ Please change everything I have spent the last X number of years developing!!”
Don’t get me wrong, we’re always happy to do a brand refresh for a client or give strategic marketing input – that’s where we excel – but just because you’ve got a bit bored with the way you market your business it doesn’t mean your customers have.
Think about the Kelloggs Corn Flakes Chicken (Or is it a Cockerel? See, it’s OK to admit you don’t have all the answers…) but back to the point, which is, that poultry personality has been on the front of the Corn Flakes box since the very beginning. It has a bit of an image update every few years, but it’s never been replaced by a Turkey. Or a Pig. Or a Duck. See, our knowledge of farm animals isn’t perhaps the best either but that’s fine, because we’re not in the business of farming.
If your blogging and tweeting and literature and press ads and the service you give to your treasured customers is working, don’t go messing with it. And don’t worry if you feel it’s not quite as cool as your competitor’s – chances are that they are having those same painful moments of self-doubt as you are.
If however you simply can’t escape the thought that your marketing just isn’t working, by all means give Michelle a call on 0330 088 9277. Michelle will tell you straight, based on proper research and insight if you can improve what you’re doing. And if she doesn’t think you can, then she’s not going to try and convince you otherwise and sell you anything unnecessary. This is the Ketchup commitment that you can trust.
April 9, 2013 10:30 am
As we’re fond of telling anyone who’ll listen; we’re immensely gratified when a client comes to us on the recommendation of one of our existing customers. It means we’re achieving the right results, and we’re good to work with. It gives us a glow as warm as…ooh…being paid on time.
It’s as satisfying as an ex-client returning, but more of that later.
There’s another aspect of being recommended that is very helpful. The incoming client usually has an idea of what sort of charges to expect. That’s not to say that people begin biting their knuckles and turning white when they see our invoices – it’s just that the phrase ‘good not cheap’ fits the bill here.
Fiat mechanic or glass of pink?
We’ll prove the point. Our design fees are very competitive. That means that they’re on a par or – more often than not – less than equivalent designers in other agencies within the region. And our boys are hot; you only have to look at the portfolio pages of this website to see that.
Our copywriting team also has vast experience. Our copy director, for example, has spent years working for the top international ad agencies in London, on major brands. No other local marketing agency can truthfully claim to offer you that level of insight. Yet our charges for copywriting are very modest.
If you drive a Fiat your mechanic costs more per hour than a Ketchup copywriter. If you drive a BMW you probably pay twice as much.
Put it another way; you could have an hour’s copywriting for the price of three 125ml glasses of pink champagne in St Pancras International. Ouch!
Buying customers at 10 grand apiece
‘We told you so’. We didn’t say that; we didn’t even think it. A year ago we pitched for a new client and lost out to another agency. It can happen for a variety of reasons. In this case, they liked the work and agreed with our marketing proposals. They used phrases like ‘spot on’ in their feedback. The all-important chemistry seemed to be there, but the sticking point was price. The other agency was cheaper, so the business went to them.
Now it’s back with us. The other gang spent the £20,000 budget and attracted exactly two new customers for their client. Now that isn’t great ROI by anyone’s standards.
So what had gone so wrong? The cheaper option soon began adding “additional” elements not covered in the original quote. They should have compared apples with pears at the pitch stage.
We could have told them that. But it would have been the cheap shot.
April 2, 2013 9:00 am
At Ketchup we’re rather proud of the fact that our most successful new business initiatives are the ones our clients run on our behalf. In other words, most of our business comes from positive word-of-mouth from satisfied customers.
Second to client recommendations comes our website, which pulls strongly. As you’d hope, since we’re in the business.
Amongst the recent leads generated by our site was the invitation to tender for the copywriting and design of a new website for a large firm of accountants; Acme Bean Counters or ABC Ltd. You may have heard of them.
(We think that years ago they cunningly contrived their name to give them lead position in the Yellow Pages but, as often happens when firms do their own marketing, their plans didn’t add up. Aaron Aardvark Accountants (AAA) beat them to it.)
Anyway, that’s another story and we could spend all day inventing names for companies. In fact, our copywriting team often does.
50 pages of carefully crafted copy before lunch
ABC wanted a quote for design and copywriting for a comprehensive, 50+ page site. Our lead copywriter did two separate estimates; one for a full site, the other for just creating copy for the 15 or so key pages.
ABC baulked at both prices. Which is odd, because our rates for copywriting are about a tenth of their rates for tax accounting.
‘We thought it would only take a couple of hours’ they said. Why? As accountants surely they could have figured out that writing fifty pages in – say – four hours meant we’d be spending just over 4 minutes on each page. We’re fast, but…
Even if it were physically possible, would you want your website – your primary point of contact with new business prospects – chucked together in under five minutes a page?
Then the Bean Counters came up with another plan. Could a copywriter spend a day with them showing them how it’s done? Because, of course, you can learn everything you need to know about marketing in a day, can’t you?
Astoundingly, we heard ourselves saying OK. Well, we try to be helpful. We also wanted to see how employing one of their £600-an-hour accountants to write 50 pages of web copy was going to save them money.
And we also thought we might pick up some tips on doing our books ourselves.
For more information regarding our copywriting or web design service please give Michelle a call on 0330 088 9277 or use our contact form here.
February 11, 2013 9:55 am
And another blogging thing
OK, let’s pretend three things. Firstly, that you’re not busy and have nothing better to do. Secondly, that our copywriter’s time is worth more than yours. Thirdly, your blog isn’t that important to your marketing effort.
You can see where we’re going with this, but you’ll probably resist our point about calling in the professionals anyway. And so you should. If you have a unique viewpoint and like the idea of writing your own blog you should go for it, especially if you know how to turn a nifty phrase or two. It is, after all, fun.
But the real idea is to produce results. So here are some tips.
Before you start, make two quick lists. The first list should be a roll call of the things you want to achieve with your blog; ending with a brief description of how the reader should feel when they’ve finished it.
The second should be a list of the things that you need to say that will make the readers feel that way. So if, for example, your subject is kitchen taps you’d probably want your readers to think that you were the kitchen tap expert and they should consult you at kitchen refurb time. You’d reinforce that impression with a para or two on tap design, then underline it with a bit of light tech-talk about reliability. Why the porcelain disc, quarter turn will resist dripping longer than the brass barrel, crush washer. But, unless you’re talking to tap anoraks (are they called Tapsters and is the collective noun a ‘trickle of Tapsters’) you’ll want to keep the tech light and involving. Good luck with that.
Once your two lists are complete, you’re ready to blog.
How’s your belly for spots, Aunt Thora?
A great blog talks directly to the reader, so to speak. So you have to use exactly the right sort of language. Consider how your content, pace, texture and vocabulary effect your tone of voice. The right tone of voice is vital because it engages the reader and helps keep them with you till the end. It also creates a telling impression of you, in their minds. So if your target audience is Aunt Thora it might be best just to enquire after her health in general terms.
The two, top, tone-of-voice tips are this; before you start writing have in mind a clear picture of someone you actually know, who personifies your reader. Write as if you were speaking directly to her/him. And then, when you’ve finished, give your work to a sulky teenager to read and ask them to describe the person they think it’s talking to.
After a couple of rewrites you’ll be ready to publish. The penultimate check is to run through your original lists and tick off the items as they appear in the blog – if you have the full set you’re good to go. But before you do, recheck your spelling and grammar. Really. A literal mistake, an inadvertent Americanism or a malapropism will have everyone writing you off as educationally substandard.
You know what…
Why bother? You’re a busy exec with 100 more valuable things to do with your time. Hiring us is cost effective and could actually save you a fortune if your DIY blog misfires somehow and drives customers away. And we must know what we’re doing – you read this far, after all.
For amateur-sounding, professional blogs please talk to Michelle on 0330 088 9277 or contact Ketchup Marketing here
Bloggers part 1 can be found here.
Bloggers Part 2 can be found here.
January 7, 2013 12:25 pm
It’s like reverse Tourette’s
If you read the first part of the Blogger’s Blog you’ll know we posed the question “Should agency copywriters be employed to write ‘personal’ blogs?” You’ll also know that – hardly surprisingly since we’re an agency that writes blogs for our clients – we were in favour. If you didn’t read that blog you’ll have to take our word for it.
This blog is about why. This is why
Blogs aren’t supposed to be polished pieces of marketing speak. They’re supposed to be personal views. They supposed to be valuable insights delivered as conversations. They’re supposed to be witty, informative and – above all – entertaining. That’s why people bother reading the blighters. Yes, people are interested in what you have to say, but they’re even more interested in enjoying themselves. Selfish beggars.
And that is why a huge proportion of company blogs fail to deliver readership. They’re like chewing a legal document. Or straining wet muesli to find the almonds. In short, they’re boring.
Colourful language, you blue-nosed radish
At last; the reason for the reverse Tourette’s reference in the headline. Too many blogs randomly abuse readers, by wasting their time and boring their pants off. Instead of using colourful language that interests and exhilarates, they trot out the same old clichés and pre-chewed, officially approved corporate guff. How many times have you seen these pieces of bad language popped unthinkingly into blogs?
‘Quality of service that is second to none…on time and on budget…leveraging core competencies…tailored to suit your specific needs…dedicated, specialised teams with the expertise and experience…our commitment is caring for you…’
Do they mean anything? Difficult to tell; we stopped reading after the first ten seconds. Actually they mean nothing because they slip over the reader’s consciousness like a wet squid over warm blancmange. Without ever engaging their audience.
So we’re still of the opinion that, unless you’re a natural, you should use a trained person to write your blogs. Or at least read the Blogger’s Blog part III, which will give you a few BIY tips of the trade.
To be continued. Look out for the Blogger’s Blog part III – And Another Blogging Thing.
For more information regarding our copy writing service or blogging workshops in 2013 contact Michelle on 0330 088 9277 or use the contact form here.
Bloggers Part 3 can be found here.
Bloggers part 1 can be found here.
December 17, 2012 5:08 pm
A couple of years ago a client of ours was heartily pooh-poohing the idea of blogs. “Who the hell has time to read all that guff?” he said with more than a hint of exasperation. “No, forget about even reading it all, what pancake actually sits down and writes it all?” he added with growing – and growling – disbelief.
That, of course, was a couple of years ago. Nowadays the blog is an accepted communication tool, transcending the marketing speak of adland and talking to people as if they were, well, people. Never a bad thing. Blogs are seen as a proffering of opinion. A forum. An insight that goes deeper than any formalised communication.
There’s something earnest and honest about a blog. Written by one party with a knowledge and an enthusiasm for a subject. And so it should remain. A blog should never be written by a professional copywriter with his eye on the main chance and his pen bent towards consumer persuasion, should it? Or should it?
Look out for the ‘some’ word
Now that small business owners, manufacturers, retailers, service providers, public and third sector organisations have cottoned on to the idea that a blog – in the right hands – can be used as a marketing tool, they’re all having a go. More power to them. The result is, of course, blogs that contain some really witty views, some real insight and some fascinating glimpses into the minds and behaviours of business leaders. Well, some do. Unfortunately, most don’t.
It’s like making candy floss out of bran fibre
What most amateur company blog writers have forgotten – or maybe never realised to start with – is that blogs are voluntary reads. Unlike commercials levered forcibly between programmes, people elect to open and read blogs of their own volition; and they expect to be amused, entertained and inspired, as well as informed. Company doggerel, corporate speak, lecturing from on high and windbag self-puffery just spoil the treat. If there’s no candy floss, no will be bothered to read your guff.
So, to answer the early question. Too right, old bean, you should definitely get a professional copywriter to fizz up your blogs. Because if no-one reads them, there’s no point in writing the damn things in the first place.
To be continued. Look out for the Blogger’s Blog part II – Reverse Tourette’s.
For more information regarding our copy writing service or blogging workshops in January 2013 contact Michelle on 0330 088 9277 or use the contact form here
PS – part 3 of this blogging special can be found here.
Don’t let anyone pretend otherwise...
December 3, 2012 3:58 pm
Don’t let anyone pretend otherwise. No matter how sophisticated marketing techniques become, no matter how accurately the latest techniques can target potential customers, no matter how many customers are attracted by the most advanced SEO…nothing beats word of mouth for generating sales.
A friend of ours recently ignored millions of pounds worth of iPhone advertising – not to mention Apple’s impeccable brand credentials, superb product design and ultra-cool image – and bought an HTC phone. The reason, apart from the desire to wilfully fly in reason’s face? “Well, my mate Dave has an HTC and he says it works quite well.”
What happens when you have no mouth and no word?
Without speaking to each visitor to your website personally and recommending they talk to the equivalent of your mate Dave, its difficult to harness the power of word of mouth to sell your company, products and services. But not impossible.
Remember the first two words of this paragraph
Skilfully written case studies are a fantastic form of word of mouth, provided you follow some simple rules. The first of which is to employ a professional. Of course, we have a vested interest in saying that; we do, after all, write successful case studies for a number of our clients as part of our comprehensive web design, copywriting and building service. The cost is minimal (compared to having one of your senior execs waste a couple of hours hacking away at the language) and the end result is a study that showcases the company’s abilities whilst containing a near-subliminal but extremely effective recommendation from a respected third party company.
Packed? This case study is stuffed
Of course, if you’re not busy you might as well have a go yourself – what could possibly go wrong? Well, you could follow the client/the problem/our solution/the result formula. That goes wrong because it’s so dated it makes your company look antediluvian. You could pack the piece with so many details that the reader falls asleep halfway throu..zzzz. You could bury the salient selling points in a welter of worthiness. You could sound too stiff, or too flip. Or you could bore the pants of everyone. No-one was ever bored into buying a product remember.
In short, you could waste hours and end up with word of mouth that no-one was listening to. If we’ve made our case, talk to Michelle about your studies on 0330 088 9277 or make contact here.
November 15, 2012 7:22 pm
… from Ketchup Marketing
In 2012 Ketchup Marketing have designed, built and launched 24 websites (another 9 are pending pre Christmas Launch), of these bespoke websites 22 have an integrated WordPress blog, so we are often asked “What makes a good blog post?”, of course the answer will differ depending on your business sector and your marketing strategy, but as a starter for 10, here are our top ten tips for the business blog writer:
1. Talk to your audience
Who is your audience? Who is reading your blog, have you looked at your web stats?
2. Keep to one audience.
You are likely to have more than one target audience, so keep the brand message and tone consistent throughout your blog, whether you are writing about new products / services or recruiting. A good idea is to lead the blog with a question and then answer it within the blog post, for example How do I write copy for a website?
3. Think word count.
A good blog article should be between 250 and 400 words easy and quick to read to keep the reader entertained and to read your full message and any call to action. If your article needs more words then consider splitting into in to 2 or 3 parts, and then use links to drive the visitors to these other article.
4. Good blog posts are easy to read.
Use lists or sub heading to make for easy reading.
5. Good blog posts actually say something.
Of course it is ok to comment about a recent event or news within your industry, for example commenting on the Christmas advertising of the big brands, but ensure that your blog starts and ends with a story or reason, plus reinforce this with a call to action, for example “hey John Lewis give Ketchup a call next year we will help you spend your marketing budget” 🙂
If you are unsure of the content ask a colleague or a friend to sense check it.
6. Good blog posts don’t have to be works of art.
You are unlikely to win any literary awards for your blog, but as long as you keep to our top ten tips people will come back for more.
7. Good blog posts show your expertise, they don’t yell at you.
Show your readers you are a great company, showcase your expertise, don’t tell them you are great at designing websites or creating email campaigns, build up trust, show expertise, use testimonials.
8. Good blog posts use a headline and sub heading.
Remember your keywords, use interesting language or question to encourage readers. You can look back over past blogs and see what have been the most successful headlines.
9. Good blog posts use keywords and are SEO optimized
See point 8, for further information on SEO can be found here
10. Good blog posts include a call to action.
A blog should avoid a hard sell, but include a CTA, this could be to another related blog post or to leave a comment, or to take the reader to twitter / facebook or linked in.
Well, there are my top 10 hints and tips for a new blog writer, please comment, please add more.
About the Author: Michelle Jones is the owner, founder and steering force of Ketchup Marketing. Established in 2009 and based in Long Clawson, near Melton Mowbray Ketchup delivers full branding and strategy to local SME’s. A selection of recent work can be found here.
August 29, 2012 10:35 am
All boys like trains. Especially when their train sets cover over 19 acres of ironstone quarry and include classic trains, steam diggers, loco sheds and workshops, tracks, nature trails and events.
But playing with trains is a serious business if want to raise the money to go on restoring and expanding your train set. You have to attract the public, and that means steaming ahead with some motivating marketing.
The rail journey began with Ketchup
Ketchup’s planners and creative teams spent time with the Ironstone quarry’s main directors, discussing the possibilities. We knew we had to compete for the diminishing ‘leisure budget’ of local families as well as drawing in visitors to the region. And that meant devising a marketing strategy that would give the quarry an ownable niche, to differentiate it from other leisure providers and allow it to appeal to a defined market segment.
The obvious advantages of locomotive rides; plus giant, historic machinery; plus the quarries educational appeal allowed us position ‘the attraction’ somewhere between an out-and-out theme park and a museum. Perfect for a whole range of families looking for a multi-faceted experience in their day out.
The creative work? Just the ticket
Following the positioning, our copywriting team worked with the client to research groups of potential names. The one most on track – Rocks By Rail – encapsulates the locomotive and quarry aspects of the attraction, references the 1960s onsite café and even manages to sound like fun. You remember fun – it’s what attracts people to spend money when they’ve out and about.
From steam engine to search engine
Then flowed a train of creative ideas. Our designers created a new logo style and expanded it to an involving brand identity that hinted at the excitement, and quirky worthiness, of the attraction. Suddenly the project gained momentum. The website was built – steam engines became search engine friendly – and a direct mail campaign launched Rocks By Rail as a destination to families and enthusiasts in the surrounding regions.
To see the results of our epic rail journey, please click here.
Madam Ketchup? I think not
May 25, 2012 1:44 pm
You can’t say it’s not varied. One day we’re reviewing a client’s marketing campaign the next we’re presenting an SEO strategy. And that’s on top of designing and writing websites from the wire-frame up. Luckily, our core team of project managers, designers and copywriters is backed up by a network of specialists – SEO professionals for example – so we can handle virtually anything. With aplomb, we like to say.
Loving those new clients
Following the old ‘bird in the hand’ adage, we make sure the pursuit of new business never impinges on the service we give our existing clients. That said, most new clients do need a honeymoon period whilst they bed in.
Which brings us to a new client in the wedding industry. Interesting project; it’s for a successful, established, local business with big ambitions. We’re taking them through a complete rebrand: new name and business proposition, redesigned branding, new website design and copywriting plus SEO programme. Exciting times.
We’ve also been appointed by a dynamic chain of Estate Agents, who are keen to build a monumental reputation for their new office in Melton Mowbray. We’re creating a press and direct mail advertising campaign for them, using a copywriter with extensive experience in the property market – having worked for Barratt, Higgs and Hill, Crest Nicholson amongst others.
Fun and (Olympic) games
Talking of Melton Mowbray, I popped into JJ’s Lingerie – a long-time client of ours – to admire their new, Olympic-styled window. A great effect but I did wonder about brand protection. Sure enough, in came the local Trading Standards and ordered the display to be taken down; on pain of a £10,000 fine. Ouch.
Madam Ketchup? I think not
They say variety is the spice of life, but sometimes life can be a little too spicy. Over the years we’ve been approached by potential new clients who include a transvestite hotel, a company selling sex toys, and a whip maker. Regrettably we couldn’t offer them to – ahem – handle them to their satisfaction. Nothing wrong with the adult business – we just don’t have experience in that area. No, really.
May 16, 2012 10:04 pm
Anyone back in the UK who thinks that May is proving ‘a little inclement’ should think again. Sure, here in Canada, we know that you’re currently undergoing the ‘wettest drought since records began’ but if you stop peering dolefully out from under your umbrellas for a moment and spare a thought for what’s happening out here in St John’s Newfoundland, you may feel you’re facing a storm in a teacup.
The weather here is so bad that the start of the epic row has been delayed. Yes, the crew expected to face mountainous seas. Yes, they expected the looming threat of ice bergs. But they didn’t expect to meet the truly chilling prospect of undersea ice.
Reporting from his vantage point overlooking St John’s Harbour, OAR crew Andrew Morris, explains:
“More significant than the ice bergs themselves, are the ‘bergy bits’ – lumps of ice floating just beneath the surface of the water that won’t be visible to us as we row backwards, particularly at night. We are currently exploring all of our options. Until the weather improves to a point where it is safe for us to depart, we’ll be staying on dry land.”
Who can blame him? The ‘bergy bits’ represent a major hazard to a boat this size and finding yourself suddenly capsized or holed and taking in the freezing black waters off the Newfoundland coast are too awful to contemplate. The crew has to take the safe – and sane – option.
But where do these treacherous undersea floes come from? Back in 2010, part of the Petermann Glacier of North West Greenland ‘calved’, leaving a giant floating ice island, travelling inexorably southwards. Over the last two years, fragments have broken off, creating icebergs and literally thousands of lethal ‘bergy bits’. Strong south easterlies have blown the bergs onto the coast of Newfoundland and increased their break up. Please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0hYScmwHp0&feature=related for an overview of the Peterman Glacier.
What does all this mean for the future of the O.A.R. effort? At the moment the team is in the position of ‘hurrying up’ and ‘waiting to see’. Time is of the essence, of course, and waiting for the weather is always a morale-sapping experience, but they will set off as soon as a window of opportunity opens. Go to http://www.olympicatlanticrow.com/2012/05/10/press-release-icebergs-and-strong-winds-delay-departure-of-oar/ to read last week’s press release covering the situation.
Overall, the OAR story has been covered by media across the UK and Canada, as well as further afield, so you can gain an overview of the print coverage generated by visiting the website. The team has also been interviewed on a number of TV and radio shows including Channel 5’s the Wright Stuff and CBC, the Canadian National Broadcast.
We’d be delighted to hear from you. For the latest updates regarding departure, and any questions you might have, please see the OAR twitter feed @OAtlanticRow . Comment from the team and more information about the ice situation can also be found on the OAR website at www.oar2012.com .
A hedgehog smoking a pipe
April 10, 2012 9:14 am
Life’s a pitch – part two
Those of us in this industry with long memories talk glowingly of the time when prospective clients actually had something called a pitch budget. That’s right; they would see choosing a new advertising and marketing agency as akin to hiring new staff, and have recruitment costs built into their business overheads projections. They would pay agency pitch expenses. Those were the days.
Yes, they actually shot the pilot
Then they realised agencies would pitch for free, and the budgets disappeared. Of course, in advertising ‘free’ is a four letter word, so costs were recouped via other channels. But the expense was spiralling out of hand – some agencies were shooting pilot commercials for new business presentations – until a select band of London agencies stopped doing creative pitches altogether, relying on presenting their credentials instead. (Bartle Bogart Hegarty was one of them and they now work with British Airways, Dulux and Google, amongst others.)
Well, we tried that with The Caravan Club (see Life’s a Pitch – Part One) and it went down like an Elddis Buccaneer off Land’s End.
A hedgehog smoking a pipe
So for Parkers Cars – part of the massive Bauer Media group – we did it differently. We went in with three different strategic routes. We created concepts and wrote baselines for each route together with some carefully crafted copy. We created layouts with three different visual identities. And, because the art of advertising is to persuade people to buy stuff without them being able to see how you’re talking them into it, we produced full creative rationales for everything we’d done. So Parkers would see the full cunningness of our ideas.
Well, sometimes clients think you just make things up for the hell of it. I know – let’s stick in a picture of a hedgehog smoking a meerschaum pipe, that’ll flog a few cars!
A foot in the door. As it slammed closed
So did we win the business? Well, we made useful contacts and the people we impressed will certainly consider working with us going forward. So that’s a ‘no’ then. Maybe that hedgehog wasn’t such a bad idea ….
Life’s a pitch – part 1
February 14, 2012 6:53 pm
What’s in a name? Nothing really, a name is just a name. Except. Well, who sounds the sexiest – Brenda or Roxy? Who sounds the most romantic – Stanley or Jean-Paul? The point is, you’d expect that a company with the chutzpah to call itself ‘Dynamic’ would be able to deliver an electrifying range of products and services, right?
Absolutely right. Dynamic create and produce some of the most jaw-dropping promotional displays and POS for company like Coke, McVities, Appletiser etc etc.
And we love working with them because they take, well, a dynamic attitude to using creative work to attract high profile business.
Make us stand out. We want to sound different. Push the boundaries. Nearly all clients say that, but these guys really mean it and that is like a red rag to a creative team.
Gauntlet plucked off the floor, our copywriting team started by writing a screed and a half of lovely, flowing, lilting, web copy. Then we took out a scalpel and assassinated it. Cut it to the bone. Down to five word sentences that stabbed home the prime points.
Terse, telling, selling points. Telegraph-ese bullets. Each with its own dramatic poise.
Then we carefully counter-balanced the bullets with longer sentences designed to nurse the reader through compelling sales messages, masquerading as passages of reassurance. Works, doesn’t it?
Our sales record proves it; copywriting is like acting. You shouldn’t notice it, you should just believe. You shouldn’t be able to see the persuaders, you should just be persuaded.
Then we moved onto the proof of the pudding. We wrote case studies for Dynamic that eschewed the usual The Challenge/The Solution/The Result format and created fast, interesting slugs of proof – laced with performance facts. Proving to prospective clients that Dynamic could, indeed, deliver.
Of course, we wouldn’t do the same thing for you. We’d devise you a completely different stance, in order to achieve the results you want. Whatever your name.
Further project details and images are on our portfolio
January 24, 2012 7:09 am
They’re called ‘baselines’ because they sit underneath logos, or ‘strap lines’ because they tie all the other elements of communication together with a single thought. Whatever you call them, they are absolute blighters to write.
The summation of everything. In 5 words
Baselines must leave consumers with a single, over-riding thought when they wander out of your communication. They’re the manure that allows your communication to blossom. They must be memorable, apposite, incisive, umbrella ideas. They are a statement of intent. They represent the one single thought your company espouses, its appeal to consumers, its brand image. And you can’t use the word ‘care’. Everyone’s seen it 1000 times and no-one believes it anyway. As an example, here’s one we prepared earlier for a people’s health insurance company.
“Health-wise it pays”. It’s colloquial and memorable, yet it communicates the company’s line of business, the wisdom of being with them, the fact that it’s sensible to have some form of health cover, and the crucial proposition that the company will pay out. In 3 or 4 words. Took a couple of days to write, mind you.
Hire the dog, don’t bark yourself hoarse.
Of course, if you’re writing a website you’ll have to include SEO in your copy and that’s a completely new piece of nadgery; as Ketchup’s resident Search Marketing wizard – Simon Fisher – will gladly explain. But for the moment you’re finished. You’ve defined your proposition, devised a strategy, established a tone-of-voice, created a headline, written compelling copy and rounded off with an unforgettable baseline. Only one thing left to do – ask yourself if it wouldn’t have been a damn sight more cost effective to have called in Ketchup’s copy team before you began!
Coming soon… Copywriting for our clients
To avoid doing-it-yourself, call Michelle on 07747 604020 and ask her for a copy quote
No-one was ever bored into buying a product
January 6, 2012 3:08 pm
Now write your copy. Start by creating a copy skeleton with your product proof points arranged like vertebrae along the spine of your proposition story. Then add the flesh from your list of important selling points. What, you didn’t devise a copy platform of selling points? But that’s like setting off on a journey across Botswana without a route map. Let’s hope the camel knows where it’s going.
No-one was ever bored into buying a product.
Once underway, keep your body copy short and keep it interesting. You can seduce consumers, threaten them, bully them (sometimes), flatter them, bribe them, frighten or befriend them but you can’t bore them into buying your product. They won’t even bother reading it. Would you still be reading this if it was boring? Tell your story succinctly and strip out the stuff that’s only in there because you think it’s clever. You’re not here to show off; you’re here to convince your target audience to buy the product.
Keep a tight grasp on your commercial imperative, and have your reader fixed firmly in your mind’s eye. Choose someone you know, who is in your target audience, and write like you were talking to them. Then ask a teenager to read it. They can be brutally enlightening, can teenagers.
Above all, avoid doggerel and be original. Don’t use phrases you’ve read in other ads. Just because it looks like an advert and sounds like an advert doesn’t mean it’ll sell your product. It means your readers will yawn, think ‘same old crap’ and turn the page.
So that’s the easy part. The final part of the copywriting conundrum is writing baselines.
Coming soon… The tricky bit.
To avoid doing-it-yourself, call Michelle on 0330 088 9277 and ask her for a copy quote or contact us here.
November 7, 2011 10:42 am
Sometimes, running a busy marketing company with a wide variety of differently-sized, clients is like running blindfold through a zoo. You can’t envisage what sort of creature you’re going to bump into next!
Our sponsorship of the local Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven springs to mind. The Rotarians had received a donation of 10 bottles of tomato sauce from Wilkins & Sons and challenged our graphic design and copywriting teams to come up with a way of using them to raise money for their ‘End Polio Now’ campaign.
Tomato sauce and Ketchup Marketing? Hmmm, obviously a natural fit in there somewhere.
We devised a bottle baton race, the sauce passing from person to person to create a…well…gravy train of £1 donations. With 10 bottles and 201 or more donors the race would raise over £2012 towards polio eradication by 2012.
The Rotarians were delighted and we set about a logo design, whilst our print design team and lead copywriter created a graphic but inexpensive advertising promotional leaflet to market the events to fellow Rotarians and prospective bottle baton participants.
We’re also sponsoring a saucy competition. A case of wine will be awarded for the most interesting photo of the bottle, taken in situ. So our web design team will be posting pictures on the blog as the bottle baton race continues.
Gives a whole new perspective to the idea of ketchup marketing!
Those famous 5 rings .. or is it?
October 12, 2011 1:08 pm
In my (quite extensive) experience, working with charity-based clients can be like herding cats. Or pushing water uphill without a paddle. Nothing could be further from the truth with OAR. To continue the watery metaphor – it was plain sailing.
The training boat
OAR stands for Olympic Atlantic Row, and the idea is that two highly experienced ocean rowers – ex-Royal Marine Mick Dawson and British entrepreneur Andrew Morris – will cross the Atlantic in a rowing boat called ‘Bojangles’. They’ll set out from New York to row west to east (the hard way!), arriving in London in time for the start of the Olympics. It’ll be an inspirational journey designed to demonstrate to young people that anything is possible with determination and the will to succeed.
Stirring stuff. Well, it certainly stirred us into creating an inspiring website.
Our copywriting team – working in sync with the client – painted ‘alone against the mountainous seas of the mighty North Atlantic’ word pictures. The website design department, meanwhile, created a powerful design format and built the site in the time it takes to…ooh…row across Rutland Water.
At the present time, our brand development, advertising and print design services haven’t been called upon by the OAR team. But we’re working closely with the team over the coming months and once ‘Bojangles’ is launched our web team will be implementing web-based GPS tracking and live links so millions can follow the effort, stroke-by-stroke.
We’re excited to be sponsoring and supporting such an epic event!
August 19, 2011 7:03 am
You can sit down in the office with a limitless supply of paper and spend hours flogging your brain into a walnut. But, and this is a copywriter’s top tip, you’re better off having an idea before you start work. Get up early and run a hot bath. Climb in and forget about everything. Let the brief chatter away in the background. Ignore it. Treat yourself to a few bath time puns (ideas on tap, product plug, soft soaping the client and so on). Then suddenly – ping – there it is. A proper idea.
Think before you ink
So, before you even pick up a pen, have a think. Decide on your brand stance, your persona and your communication strategy. Do some research into competitive activity. Define their strategies and devise one that is divergent but devastatingly attractive to your target market. Develop a copy platform and a tone of voice that’ll prove irresistible to your audience. Then you can start fooling about with words.
Headlines. And no, this isn’t one
Bold type on its own does not make a headline. Proper headlines usually encapsulate the proposition and communicate the reason why a consumer should buy your product, rather than your competitor’s. Headlines should be snappy, memorable, informative, endearing…all in half a dozen words. 12 max.
Or. Headlines can inspire curiosity. They lead you to the selling message in the copy below. They should work with the picture to present an inescapable product truth. Of course, you’ll need across-the-desk access to an art director or a designer to achieve this. So, unless one of your colleagues is handy with crayons…
Next time we’ll talk about writing copy. Finally.
Coming soon… Copy as she am writ.
To avoid doing-it-yourself, call Michelle at Ketchup Marketing and ask her for a copy quote or use the contact form here.
August 5, 2011 3:12 pm
Not such a useless, fat, evolutionarily-challenged blighter after all, then?
Long live Google’s Panda update. Encouraging well-crafted, motivating, selling advertising copy. Obviating the need to ram every sentence with key SEO words.
Very cute, that Panda. Frying spam in its own fat. Obliterating the requirement to write 500 words of gibberish, when 20 good ones would sell the product.
So Google Panda heralds a new era of copy written to convert readers into buyers. Rather than word lists designed to roll the gormless eye of the search engine towards the website.
Break out the Champagne there, Benson.
Mind you, SEO did sort the hacks from the hicks. Real copywriters accepted SEO as a challenge. As in, how many times can you squeeze a fat ‘luxury holidays in the Mediterranean’ into a 100-word piece of resort copy? And we all had our own tricks. You could do things with punctuation that the machine didn’t notice but the reader did. For example: “….complete luxury. Holidays in the Mediterranean are always…” See what we did there?
Of course, we were practiced. Before SEO we had Client Presentation Suicide. It was a game that involved picking a random word out of a hat and inserting it into your part of the presentation. No matter how inappropriate. You try slotting ‘liberty bodice’ into a creative rationale to a furniture manufacturer. It certainly adds to the stress, especially as the loser buys everyone else a fat lunch.
So thanks for the Panda, Google, but copywriters were slotting subliminal little buzz words into marketing copy long before SEO was ever possible. Don’t believe me?
Take this piece for example. Have you noticed how many times the word ‘fat’ appears?
Words like ‘ship’ and ‘tar’ float past
July 5, 2011 7:18 pm
There are, after all, only 26 letters in the alphabet. So mind your Ps and Qs and you’ll be O and K. Headlines aren’t usually more than a dozen or so words long, so they’re easy. The tip here is to write out what you want to say in long form, then whittle it down. If you can’t get it below 15 words max, you need professional help.
Once you have your snappy, compelling, irresistible headline you just need to write the copy. Again; easy. Say, 100 words if you’re penning a press ad. Less if poss. Use short sentences. Be dynamic. Counts the words. If you’re up to 150 your audience is likely to wander off long before you ramble round to your point. So cut the self indulgence. Never forget; you’re not here to entertain, you’re here to sell a product. But remember, sometimes the best way to sell a product is to be entertaining.
Words like ‘ship’ and ‘tar’ float past
While you’re laying down the words, be aware or beware. If they’re not the right words you could waste your entire spend. Your brochure, for example. It may be professionally designed, beautifully photographed, lavishly printed. But if it sounds like it was written by a Sun reader using a bread knife, your audience will be turned off in their droves. Amateurish copy will make your company sound, well, amateurish. Talk about spoiling the ship….
Don’t let us put you off with all this. We’re just pushing for business. Next time we’ll talk about thinking, and leaping the headline hurdle.
Coming soon… A penny for your thoughts.
May 23, 2011 10:45 am
If you drive a car of the order of – say – a Fiat Punto, you can afford a copywriter. How does that work? A Fiat main dealer will charge you labour at around £65 an hour for a good service. Ketchup won’t.
So, if it’s not the money, why would any frantically busy, BMW-driving Marketing Exec want to spend valuable hours fumbling about with a thesaurus and balls-ing up his customer communications? It must be the glamour.
A choir of heavenly blondes chanting “We Want Words!”
They’re there now. Looking out of the office window, I can see a throng of blonde nubiles chanting and waving placards. I daren’t show myself to them in case they start throwing themselves in front of the traffic. Can’t go out the front door in case the camera flashing brings on epilepsy.
So copywriting is better than being JLS. Easier too. All you need is a sharp pencil – although real pros use a Mac nowadays – and a basic grasp of the mother tongue. Even the language is on your side; being a mixture of Anglo-Saxon and French, it’s the slipperiest of tongues. Try, for example, to think of an English word that doesn’t have more than one meaning. An absolute gift for headline writers and punsters.
So come on you Execs, forget about running the company, this is important work….next time I’ll be telling you how to get started.
Coming soon…. Health warning for starlets
To avoid doing-it-yourself, call Michelle on 07747 604020 and ask her for a copy quote
A fat bloke bursts in, waving a pair of nail scissors.
April 15, 2011 7:13 pm
“My wife’s got a degree in English, the client said, so what the hell do I need a copywriter for?” We sighed silently. We used to hear this a lot in the old days.
Nowadays, of course, clients are all professional marketers with a fine appreciation of the importance of highly targeted communication and a savage determination to give themselves the competitive edge.
It wasn’t always thus. ‘I can read, so I can write’ was the rationale behind many local business-owners decision to save themselves a few quid by doing their own copywriting. It’s a view akin to saying ‘I’ve eaten food so I can cook’. Or ‘I’ve heard Mozart’s Sifonia, therefore…’ well, you get the gist.
A fat bloke bursts in, waving a pair of nail scissors.
Professionals like, for example, opera singers roll their eyes as their crafts suffer at the hands of Gifted Amateurs. Other professions have it easier. Ophthalmic surgeons, for example, are almost never interrupted by a fat bloke bursting into their operating theatres, waving nail scissors and bawling ‘Gimme a go, I did a frog at school’.
However, we do live in the age of the budget cut. So, for the sake of economy – and because we like to help our clients achieve the best possible results – we’ll be exploding the copywriting myth in a series of blog articles. We’re going to show you how it’s done!
Coming soon… Blondes prefer copywriters