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

Put Your Mind In the Gutter (Or Else Your Clients Will)

Browsing through Reddit today and ran across this post of Worst Business Name Ever with this photo:

kidsexchange1.jpg

Hopefully you see the obvious problem here.

It reminds me of when one of my friends was pregnant. She and her husband were considering names for the baby and this was the conversation:

Wife: What about Regina? It’s my grandmother’s name.
Husband: Nope. She’ll get teased and get called “Vagina” in school.

Every name my friend threw out had to pass her husband’s “what will kids call her” test. Brilliant! Way to think ahead and catch a potential problem early.

Business owners should apply the same test when naming their business. What will clients call you? And put your mind in the gutter before you spend all the time and money on a name that only gets plastered all over the blogosphere as the worst business name ever.

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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

Annoying Business Buzzwords and Phrases

annoyed-woman.jpgWhen I hear one of these phrases, a part of me cringes. Are people still talking like this? Are they listening to what they’re saying?

“We offer excellent customer service” – OK, what else do you do. Excellent customer service is standard nowadays. This phrase does NOTHING to set you apart. Plus, “excellent” is such a vague term with little metric value (see post on boastful superlatives).

“We are never too busy for your referrals.” – I would hope not – your chances of closing the deal on a referral are much higher than a cold-call. Who in their right mind would be “too busy?” Are you attempting to solicit your current clients to send you referrals with this message? If so, you might want to try mentioning how your service will be different. Maybe something like, “We treat your referrals like family.”

“This is a ‘turnkey’ solution.” – Enough of the buzzwords. They are fads. They get old. They do not make you seem smarter. Check out Scott Ginsberg’s blog for more annoying buzzwords .

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who 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

Catchy Store Names & Taglines

sitting-elf.jpgThere’s a restaurant in town called the Bilbo Baggin’s Cafe – their tagline? “Great Service is More Than Just a Hobbit”

Other store names that caught my eye…

  • A bakery called the Upper Crust
  • A bookstore called Books & Crannies
  • A hair salon called Bangs & Burns

I’ll keep my eye out for more and post as I see them. What are some wacky store names you’ve seen?

BTW, if you’re looking to create your own unique store name, Sam Horn wrote the book.

To emoticon or not to emoticon – that is the question.

EmoticonYesterday I came home, checked my mail and was jazzed to see my March copy of Inc. Magazine in the mailbox. On the last page was the section of The Office by Leigh Buchanan where she expressed her extreme displeasure in the use of emoticons in business correspondence.

I’m guessing that my March issue is so hot-off-the-press and that’s why I have yet to find the link to the article from Inc’s website. Once it’s up, I’ll link it here.

So what is the role of emoticons? I agree, in a business correspondence it’s an understudy at best. Yet, I find that in the absence of any other form of expression with someone who you have had a long standing relationship with, a simple smiley can be good.

I’m thinking specifically of a client that I’ve had for about 6 months. We are in completely different time zones – she’s in California, I’m on the East Coast near Washington DC. 99% of our correspondence is via e-mail. When I submit an idea, her emoticon at the end of the “looks great” makes a big difference. It actually reminds me that I am dealing with a human who has feelings and it helps me picture her on the other end of cyberspace and the emotions she’s expressing. To me, this is important, because I can gauge whether or not a project is on the right track.

Ms. Buchanan also suggests the complete eradication of emoticons – and puts the idea to her readers that they replace the simple 🙂 with a long, drawn-out description such as:

“Picture if you will a colon: one tiny, perfect dot poised above its brother. Now imagine that colon transformed into a pair of eyes, bright and sparkling with mischief. From between those dots extends a hyphen. Yet screw up your eyes and…do you see it? A nose! Yes, a nose! Patrician in its straightness it dips toward the generous curve of a closing parenthesis. That parenthesis is a mouth, corners up-tilted in mirth. Viewed in a sum, these marks compose a face whose expression of gentle amusement suggests the good humor intended in the previous remark”

Are you serious!?

I’m all for literary masterpieces, yet if you don’t have time for a 🙂 how the heck do you have time for THAT?

I find this as a classic symptom of the literary superiority syndrome. There are just some cases where a simple graphic can capture the feelings that are too complex for words (remember “a picture is worth a thousand words”) Finding the balance between graphics and words is the real aim of the game.

I wonder if people had the same reaction when contractions entered the picture? I think emoticons will eventually fall into the same category as don’t, won’t, etc.

You won’t use them in business correspondence, but they do have their place.

🙂

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who 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