Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Our five secrets of writing great copy

Ernest Hemingway revealed his personal writing secrets in a 1954 interview. He wrote just after sunrise when the air was ‘cool’, he typed his novels standing up, and he always stopped writing when he felt that he still had ‘juice’ ( the urge to carry on writing). But what if you’re writing sales emails rather than novels? 

Copywriting is a different creative process to writing fiction, so Hemingway’s tips will not necessarily result in great copy. In this post, we’ve revealed the five essentials that have helped us over the years.


Ernest Hemingway struggling with an email subject line, 1952.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Swearing: when it can work for brands

Sometimes it’s okay to swear (sorry mum). Step on a plug? That’s fine. Burn the Sunday roast? Fair enough. Missed the last train home and now your phone has died? Go on, let it all out. But what about when you’re working for a major brand? Well, you would be surprised.

Messages don’t always resonate with an audience in the way you intended. Unfortunately, it happens. But if you genuinely cause offense, it’s a complete disaster. This leads us on to the topic of swearing in copywriting and advertising - is it ever okay? Well, there’s a time and a place for everything. Here’s when a bit of bad language can work for brands… 

Save your money! Research has proven that swearing actually reduces pain 

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Five techniques that guarantee great content marketing

Content marketing is a long-term play - you want to build relationships and shape brand perception whilst appealing to the search engine’s taste for quality content. So, what are the do’s and don’ts? 

Gone are the days of simply packing copy with key search terms. You’ve now got to provide authoritative content to be rewarded by the search engines.  
Laura Johnston wore these shorts for 135 days straight. We don’t recommend the same for socks.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

What could GDPR emails possibly teach you about persuasive writing?


Whether it’s the World Cup, final of Wimbledon, or the humble sales email, competition brings out the best in people (unless you play football for England).

Changes to EU data protection law, better known as GDPR, prompted a deluge of emails. Inboxes were awash with rather desperate requests for your consent, gentle reminders to opt-in, and needy pleas to ‘stay in touch’.

But not every brand did the obvious. In this post, we take a look at the some of the ones that stood out.


The Economist does not beg

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Copy that guarantees great meetings



Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, insists on unconventional six-page memos for all meetings. In this blog post, we provide you with essential tips for summarising the key issues in a way that is considered, stimulating and easy to read

Amazon’s owner and founder has many idiosyncratic business practices. Be it his ‘two-pizza rule’ for meeting sizes (never have a meeting where two pizzas couldn't feed the entire group), or his refusal to use an alarm clock. He recently hit the headlines for his insights into Amazon’s philosophy on memos.

Bezos revealed meetings begin with 30-minutes of silence where attendees read through a ‘narratively structured’ memo which he believes should take ‘a week or more’ to prepare. Bezos, however, struggled to articulate what exactly a ‘great’ memo is: ‘It would be extremely hard to write down the detailed requirements that make up a great memo’.

Sounds like a copywriting challenge. So here goes...

He didn't say what size pizza...

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Spring clean your copy

The sun’s shining, flowers are blooming, leaves are appearing.... it’s time to spring clean your copywriting – out with the old and in with the new!

1.   Cliché

Martin Amis published a collection of essays under the title, 'The War Against Cliché'. Author and language-grump George Orwell called cliché a ‘dying metaphor’, only used ‘because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves’. Cliché reveals a lack of original thought and makes any communication sound tired, derivative and slap-dash. It’s an insidious force in all marketing, branding and copywriting.

In travel copy, the cobbled lanes of the old town are seldom anything but ‘charming’. In recruitment copy, how many job ads promise a ‘dynamic, fast-paced environment’?

If it comes to mind straight away, it’s probably a cliché. Strip hackneyed phrases from your writing, dive a little deeper and your writing will improve instantly.

2. Placing the rational over the emotional 


If you’re trying to sell something – and most copywriting is, to a greater or lesser extent – one of the biggest mistakes you can make is just appealing to reason. People make decisions based on hot emotion, not cold facts.

Petrol-heads don’t buy a 277 mph top-speed, they buy the feeling of exhilaration. Those looking to fight wrinkles don’t buy the latest advance in dermatological science, they buy the promise of youth. By all means bring out the facts to back up the claim, but whatever you do, start with emotion.


It ought to make you feel good. It costs $2,100,000.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

2017 marketing trends and what's in store for 2018

2017 was a bewildering, rollercoaster year. But putting aside scandal, cryptocurrency, political chaos and a certain royal engagement, what did last year mean for marketers, brand agencies, copywriters and creatives? 

Here's a run-down of the most important trends we spotted this year - and why we think they'll continue shaping the industry in 2018.


1. The social media honeymoon is over

We all knew social media was awful for our attention spans and the plague of productivity, but 2017 saw storms gather as our understanding of the pitfalls of social media matured further.

Two Apple shareholders (holding about $2 billion in stock between them) called on the tech giant’s board of directors to investigate iPhone addiction amongst children and make it easier for parents to control screen time. Less screen time means fewer opportunities for brands, advertisers and marketers to reach their audiences.