Increase Brand Awareness with Clever Copy in the Nooks & Crannies

Hiding in the corners beneath the bold headlines, under the compelling benefit statements, and around the action-packed verbs are bountiful opportunities to inject your brand with personality. A recent trend is “nooks & crannies copy” as I’m calling it, because it often pops up in unexpected places. Here are three examples:

1. Yahoo Chat

Yahoo Chat Screenshot \

While it may be difficult to see in this picture, Yahoo has brilliantly introduced humor into their chat feature. Between the conversation above and the text box below is the status report indicating if the other person is typing a message. However, instead of a plain and boring “Apple123 is typing a message….”, yahoo has sprinkled clever anecdotes such as:

  • Apple123 really should learn to type with more than two fingers…
  • STAND BY FOR A MESSAGE FROM APPLE123
  • Apple123 is about to drop knowledge…
  • Apple123 is hammering out a wicked comeback…
  • Bate your breath, Apple123 is typing…

among a plethora of others.

While not directly selling anything, introducing conversational wit in this unexpected place allows Yahoo! to showcase their brand’s personality. It gives the user the impression that Yahoo! is a fun, easy to work with company that doesn’t take itself to seriously.

2. Verizon Wireless

Verizon Highspeed Internet Loading Icon

Located directly before a purchasing decision, this otherwise overlooked loading page has been transformed into a mini flash ad that reinforces the product’s effectiveness right before the sale. The ad shows an animated film strip loaded with a series of technological leaps. The last one, “From Dial Up…To High Speed Internet” subtly suggests “You wouldn’t live in a cave, would you? Then why on earth would you have dial up?” An effective suggestion, I would imagine.

3. You Need a Budget (YNAB)

YNAB screenshot

Jesse Mecham, the developer of YNAB, tells the story of how he and is wife needed a personal budgeting system. They developed a simple excel spreadsheet that over the years has developed into a sophisticated yet user-friendly budgeting tool. While the site has been dramatically improved on the design side, Jesse still maintains the heartfelt honesty in his conversational copy, as evidenced by the “Download Update” screen for his product. He is an accountant, and occasionally a grammatical error will pop up in his copy, but it doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to the bottom line. His conversational style is obviously effective due to the growth and endorsements of YNAB.

Related Links

Three Tips to Make Your Copy Conversational – by Mila Sidman

How to Make the Online Sales Copy for Your Website More Conversational – by Evelyn Lim

The Right Way to Write Sales Copy – by Anthony Vicenza

A Fun Game Between the Superbowl Ads (And I’m Not Talking About Football)

Ok. I admit it. When it comes to sports, I could frankly care less. I didn’t even know who was playing in the “Big Game” until this afternoon (sad, I know).

But I still get super jazzed around this time of year…for the commercials!

Last year, I created a survey (I know, I’m a dork…I get it) to poll the party I attended to find out what people thought of the ads. What started out as a tremendously nerdy exercise on my part ended up being the catalyst for some very interesting debates (Rodney, I’m not going to let you throw Frito’s at people you disagree with this year!)

If you’re like me, you may want to partake in the fun. Here’s the list I came up with last year. Take this list to your party and let me know what you and your friends think by posting a comment below. Additional categories welcome. 🙂

  • Best Use of a Celebrity
  • Most Controversial
  • Most Effective
  • Best New Product/Service/Idea
  • Funniest
  • Best Tagline
  • Biggest Waste of Money
  • Most Likely to Be Blogged About/Talked About Around the Water Cooler

Or, you can skip the whole “fooseball” thing all together and just attend an “Adbowl” like the one hosted by the Richmond Chapter of the American Marketing Association 

Either way, have a safe and fun Superbowl Sunday!

Does a Mac Make You More Creative?

mac-haircut.jpg
The other day I was typing away at a local coffee shop when a stranger approached me and asked me what I did for a living. When I responded, “I’m a writer,” he furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. “But you don’t have a mac,” he replied with sincere disbelief. “How can you be a ‘creative’ and use a PC?”

Simple. I’m a writer and I need one program – Word. That’s it. No fancy schmancy programs like graphic designers need. When I first went out on my own and needed a computer I looked at several different options. At the time, my PC was about a third of the price of a mac – which is quite a difference when your operating capital is hovering around $12.

I’ve known some apple-heads that won’t buy anything unless it’s been blessed by Steve Jobs. However, using a PC does not make me any less of a ‘creative’ than these zealots. A computer is a tool and it’s only as powerful as the mind behind it.

I’m sure I’ll get some comments about how I’m wrong and apples are the best thing since the invention of the wheel, but I’m still not convinced. In the meantime, I’ll continue to watch mac commercials as a part of my daily entertainment. 🙂

Related Links

The Cult of Mac Jr

A Video of a Guy Who REALLY Hates Macs

A Blog about Why Macs are the Best Choice

Update: I wrote this post before I took the new job. As my sister-in-law pointed out in her comment, my new job requires me to work on a mac. Oh, the irony.

Reduce Social Media Burnout with a Communication Vacation

meditating-businessman.jpgThere’s a lot of buzz around the blogosphere about social media burnout. I blogged about this in April when I first started feeling the fatigue. Heck, if Steve Rubel is starting to see the strain – we know this is for real.

I feel like the pressure comes from several places:

1. So many tools, so little time. Let’s dissect the time it takes to effectively use just one channel of new media: blogs. To make a blog effective, you need quality content. That means time to: 1) come up with a creative & original topic 2) research it properly and 3) write and edit. And that’s just building the content of your blog. Then you compile marketing efforts – such as reading your daily feeds (I have 96 blogs in my reader) commenting on other blogs, tracking stats and reaching out to your readers. Now, add the 18,000 other social networking tools and gizmos we’re supposed to use at an equally engaging level and *poof* – burnout.

2. The need to please. Because social networking involves interaction with others, there is a need to meet their expectations. The best bloggers write for their readers, not for themselves – and knowing that people are depending on you to come up with profound and original content on a daily basis can wear you down.

3. The perpetuation (instead of distillation) of swill. Blogs gain popularity through “link love” which ultimately means people are consistently regurgitating other people’s original ideas. This regurgitation process tends to create a big fat game of telephone tag through the internet. The result is that then, in my research process, I am forced to backtrack through numerous links to track down the original source. These blogs that simply rely on supplying links without providing a thought provoking stance fall out quickly because readers see right through it. This relates back to reason #2 and importance of original and thought-provoking content.

So how do you battle this social networking fatigue? How do you stay plugged in while still creating original and thought provoking content? Why not allow yourself a daily vacation from all forms of media to allow your ideas to percolate?

Dictionary.com defines “vacation” as:

va·ca·tion [vey-key-shuhn, vuh] Pronunciation KeyShow IPA Pronunciation –noun

1. a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday:

I can say from personal experience that this has been my saving grace. Since April when I began to feel the burnout, I decided to invest at least an hour every day to suspend all forms of communication. This time allows my ideas to mature and the quality of my work has dramatically improved over the past few months.

So what does a communication vacation look like? Silence. That’s right – none of the following:

– cell phone
– radio
– television (I don’t own one anyway)
– internet
– computer
– gaming system
– e-mail

Instead, I do something like:

– sit in traffic with the radio off (I live in DC – so I do this a lot. Not my favorite activity, but it works)
– go for a run outside (without an mp3 player!)
– meditate
– sit at Founder’s Park right by the water and people/duck watch

As a recovering work-a-holic I can attest that as with any addiction, fighting the first urges were overwhelmingly difficult. Similar to when I quit smoking, I found myself having “communication fits” whenever I would try to sit still. But over time, I found that these times are critical to my creative process.

And I’m not alone. A recent article in Inc. Magazine highlighted several entrepreneurs who attribute their innovation to maintaining structured think time. “CEOs who curtail creativity may do so at a cost to their happiness and their businesses” author Allison Stein Wellner states. “Leaders can miss out on innovations as long as they view running a company as the hard stuff and coming up with new ideas as the fun stuff – and sacrifice the fun for the good of the business.”

Similarly, individuals can suffer from being too tied in to social media – feeling all that pressure. That can lead to health issues, family problems, and all the other icky stuff that we hate to talk about. So allow yourself a daily communication vacation. Be at peace in the silence. Allow your ideas to mature. And then come back armed with intelligent ammunition to make your work even better. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go for a run. 🙂

Related Links

Steven Aitchison – Hypnogigia: The bridge to the unconscious

Shel Holtz – Social Media Burnout? Where Have I Heard This Before?

Future Lab – Facebook, Myspace & Social Burnout

Valeria Maltoni – Facebook Ain’t Face Time 

New Media Conference in Washington D.C.

If you’re in the Metro DC area, mark your calendar for the New Media Nouveaux conference July 13th. The focus of the conference will be “how to get your audience to fall madly in love with you, your message and your business” through strategic use of blogs, social media releases, etc.

Yours truly will be moderating the “Specialists” panel discussion with Alice Marshall of Presto Vivace, Qui Diaz of Ogilvy and Jennifer Cortner of EFX Media

Here’s a peek at everyone who will be presenting:

Keynote Speakers:

  • Toby Bloomberg – Author of the Diva Marketing Blog
  • Geoff Livingston – CEO of Livingston Communications and Author of Now is Gone (to be released this October)

Panelists: 

If you’re a regular reader, I’d love to meet you – so try to stop by and introduce yourself after the conference. Hope to see you there – you can get more info/register here.

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Myragan.com: Here’s Why I’m Totally Addicted

I belong to a LOT of social networking sites and I love it. My latest craze is myragan.com – a social networking site specifically for communicators (folks in Advertising/Marketing/PR, etc.)

What sets myragan apart from the gads of other networking sites I belong to?

1. Industry focus – Marketing folks seem to have their own crazy way of doing things (which is part of the reason why I find my job so fun.) It’s engaging to be plugged into a community that genuinely “gets” the way you operate.

2. Content Quality – Myragan is resource-rich and well organized. The forums are outstanding and the quality of the posts reflects the professionalism of the community. My favorite spot to visit is the funny pages – where I can find clips from youtube or other media to make me laugh.

3. Community Involvement – Most social networking sites are pretty laissez-faire when it comes to direct communication with users. Not so with myragan. They have a dedicated staff that reaches out and makes you feel at home – so if you’ve never ventured into the online community, this would be a great place to start.

4. Intuitive Navigation – The menu bar makes myragan easy to navigate and operate. This may sound simple and “duh”, but trust me – with lots of sites it feels like you need to learn a second language just to understand the navigation. Myragan’s simple design has me sold.

So, if you’re a member you can check out my profile. Feel free to send me a friend request if you’d like to network. Cheers!

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Boomers – Here’s Why Gen-Y is So (Selfish, Independent, Ambitious….)

On the forums on MyRagan.com (myspace for MarComm) Kristen Ridley posted a hilarious tongue-in-cheek letter to all Millennials asking why:

“it often appears that you don’t care about anyone but yourself, and believe that you should always get exactly what you want, when you want it regardless of any impacts on other people. What are we missing that would help explain what seems to be a shocking lack of interest in the world around you and your ability to make it better? Because you are so equipped to do just that if only you would choose to. I mean, you have youth and energy on your side (and let me assure you-we envy you that because at our advanced age with those years of excessive drinking behind us we are tired!). Not to mention that all this technology you’re so fond of means you could organize people and actually change the world from your living rooms! Not like us old fogeys who actually had to go out and demonstrate and get arrested and stuff”

Here is my response……

Dear Digital Immigrant,

It is true – the dissonance between our generations has risen to alarming proportions. And your invitation for an open dialogue is most welcomed.

When I was a child (granted, it wasn’t that long ago) my mother told me that insults are just jealousy in disguise. Perhaps your attempts to speak down to our Online addiction (at least it’s not drugs – we “just said ‘NO!'” thanks to Nancy) are simply a big, green envy monster rearing its ugly head?

But I know this is not the case because of your hard work and honest attempts to assimilate to the culture we’ve created.

So you’d like an explanation for our ambition and independence? Let’s start with corporations such as Enron, Worldcom, and Arthur Andersen who were shining examples of the rewards we can expect after dedicating a lifetime of service to an organization.

Not to mention the fact that you’ve been telling us since birth that we must prepare to contribute 7.65% of every hard-earned penny we will ever earn to a Social Security program that will be completely dissolved by the time we’re old enough to participate.

So we’ve learned that the only person we can rely on is ourselves. If we “pay our dues” (I think that’s what you call it) we end up bitter, tired and jaded knowing that we’ve watched a thousand better opportunities pass us by.

We will continue to seize the day, blur the lines between business and pleasure, and keep you on your technological toes. When the tools exist to produce more while appreciating the world and all its beauty – spending our short, sweet moments in a cubicle seems like an inferno ring only Dante could describe.

With much respect for your struggles,

A Digital Native

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com