Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Coming to a UK site and awards book near you soon

This didn't work for me the first time I opened the page.

I thought it was just a badly designed web page.

It's not. Give it a second and watch what happens.

Hema is a kind of Dutch IKEA. If you Google 'Hema', this is what you get:


Monday, December 17, 2007

How to get 10% off everything

This is the best headline I read all weekend.

And it wasn't in a magazine.

It wasn't on a poster.

It wasn't even on TV.

It was in a newspaper - and it wasn't an ad at all. It was a newspaper article.

And of course I want to know how to get 10% off everything (who wouldn't?) So I read on. The sub-head continued, 'Revealed: the secret online codes...'

Revealed? Secret codes? I'm salivating. I devour the rest of the article's sub-head, focusing on the words 'Christmas bargain' in particular, as well as the sentence 'but hurry, these codes don't hang around for long.

Forget formulas but just consider for a minute some of the techniques at work so far. You've got a 'How to...' headline, proven time and time again to attract readers. You've got '10% off' which tells people they're going to save money. And best of all, the headline says 'everything.' So whoever you are and whatever you're looking for, this article is going to help you nab a bargain. And who doesn't like a bargain at Christmas, with all those presents to buy.

Even better, the sub-head pulls that most powerful of buying triggers - 'exclusivity.' These codes are secret but we're revealing them.

Finally, there's a big ol' reason to act NOW - these secret passwords don't hang around for long, so you'd better hurry.

The article goes on to list specific codes for specific goods at specific prices.

I'd love to know how many sales of those items this article generated. Sackfuls, I imagine.

And not a logo in site. Front page, under the massive words 'MONEY' on the front page of the er, yes, you guessed it, Money section of the Guardian newspaper.

It made me think of the following ad I saw recently.

It was conceived by an art director called Scott Maddox. He contacted me through D&AD recently about a possible partnership. Anyway, he and his old partner were named Young Creative Team of the Year 2006 in New Zealand for the following press ad:

The copy at the bottom says 'Advertise in newspapers.'

Of course, this ad is talking about advertising in papers, rather than placing products in stories, but you get my point.

And this is one of the reasons why good PR is so important. To fly your message under your audience's advertising radar.

I'm not selling you anything. Just read this story:
How to get 10% off everything

Friday, December 14, 2007

This is what fast feels like

Click the play button on the video to find out:


The difference the right headline makes

In an email, your subject line makes all the difference.

Not quite life or death, but close.

Those few words you choose to type in your subject line box mean the difference between getting read - and getting binned. So choose your words carefully.

An account exec I used to work with, Lauren, came to me with the following problem.

One of our clients was unsatisfied with the opening rates they were getting with their monthly newsletter - around 12%.

'What was their last subject line?', I asked. The answer made me groan.

'Try this', I said, explaining a simple technique that Lauren could try herself (one that took her about 15 minutes.)

Well, I completely forgot about this thing until Lauren ran in breathless one morning. 'You know that tweak we made to client X's e-newsletter subject line?' Well the latest opening rates are in...'

'And?', I said.

'And they're up to 43%!'


It's such a simple tweak, it's almost embarrassing to hold it back from you. Leave a comment or email me if you want to know what it is.

If you want to read up on email marketing, the gods at the DMA publish a guide to best practice: take a look here

The geniuses at Marketing Sherpa also know pretty much everything about email marketing. Discover loads of indespensable information, some of it for free:

Marketing Sherpa

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What Ernest Hemmingway and Chris Catchpole can teach us about writing

I love reading writing tips.

I got these yesterday.

Five smoking hot ones from Ernest Hemmingway, no less.

1. Use short sentences
2. Use short paragraphs
3. Use vigorous English
4. Be positive, not negative
5. Never have only five rules (apparently Hemmingway had another. He once said to F. Scott Fitzgerald 'I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the bin.')

Just as exciting to read are these from Chris Catchpole, who likes to keep things fresh at his London agency Catchpole & Friends.

Make new friends

Hyperhappen's blog

Hyperhappen is a digital agency in London.

It doesn't employ any in-house writers, but I am trying not to hold that against them.

Simeon over there says writing is actually quite good fun.

He thinks it would be even more fun if their articles were more widely read and sparked a little more conversation.

So he says they're making a conscious effort to link more to other bloggers.

It was a coincidence for me to be reading that. Just as I was visiting their site to get their url so that I could link to their blog (in one of my posts, i mention an article written by another dude over at Hyper, Sam.)

Anyhow, I subscribe, read and respond to their monthly newsletter. You probably can, too, if you go to www.hyperhappen.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cleverer than a clever, clever, clever thing

I just received a really clever email.

It invited me to become a Deck Chair millionnaire.


I like Deck Chairs. And I'd like to be a millionnaire. So I'd love to be a Deck Chair Millionnaire.

Here's the clever bit.

Joining was for free but to upgrade to the $50 membership, I had to act NOW.

How come? Because of all the people joining right after me. They were pushing me 'down the line', taking more and more of my share. How did I know? I could see my 'wealth' draining away with every second I was delaying clicking the link.

OK so the whole thing looks like low grade scam spam and you'd rather not piss away $50 a month (for what I don't even know.)

Even so, I thought it was one of the most inventive REASONS TO ACT NOW I've ever come across.

What do you think?

See for yourself at www.getinfast.cashexpand.com
Don't worry, it's totally safe. And no, I'm not getting paid for referrals.

Why don't we see better banner copy?

Good question.

It was asked by a fella named Sam, a strategist at a digital agency in London called Hyperhappen, in their newsletter.

He picked out a poster than ran for TravelLodge. You may have seen it. It read: 'A million rooms for £26 (each.)'

Sam wondered why we don't see more (rewarding) copy like that in banners.

I like the ad and I'm interested in the issue. So I commented on Sam's post.

I explained about the whole descriptive vs. clever headline thing. And that perhaps it's thought surfers are so busy and so fast that anything clever or witty is simply considered too distracting by the click hunters.

Or is there just a lack of copywriters in digital agencies?

Read Sam's original post, 'The finest eloquence', here

1066 and all that sat nav (or how your old sat nav belongs in the dark ages)

The most engaging, enthralling heritage information you can get for your Sat Nav.

OK, well the only engaging, enthralling heritage information you can get for your Sat Nav.

RoadTour, the UK's first audio-visual guide to our historic treasures, went live last week - www.roadtour.co.uk

Google the phrase 'RoadTour satnav', and you'll see pages of links to the product launch.

When I discovered my scripts playing in the background of not one, but two, BBC video reports, I punched the air, shouting 'Yes!', like Napoleon Dynamite:

BBC video clip, featuring my Chiswick House script

BBC video clip 2, featuring my Groombridge Place script

Read the press release that features my Bowood House script

I wrote 75 scripts in total, over two months. I was one of ten writers employed to research and write 600.

If they've already got sat nav, Roadtour has to be one of the best Christmas presents you can get for mum and dad, surely. For £19.99, you can't really go wrong. And for a few quid more, you get information about every pub in the country, too. Are we nearly there, yet? Are we nearly there, yet? No. But there's a lovely castle and a great little boozer just down the road. www.roadtour.co.uk

Once RoadTour has conquered Britain, we're off to France.

Bon chance, RoadTour!

Well done, Daniel and a big thank you to Gemma for being such a pleasure to work with.

Ambius wins best rebranding exercise, CorpComms 2007 Awards

No way.


The project that brought me to fst marketing.

The global rebrand of Rentokil Tropical Plants to Ambius.

It picked up best rebranding exercise at the CorpComms 2007 Awards, on November 28.

See the winners

I'm proud to have been involved. And grateful to have been asked to be a part of it.

I wrote the copy guidelines, strapline, website (www.ambius.co.uk ) and all the launch collateral, too.

It would be nice to see Ambius get the budget to do some advertising/marketing. They've got a good product and the proof that they can make a difference to businesses is 100% rock solid.

We'll know more about the effect the rebrand has had on their bottom line in March.

And if they ever do find the money for a campaign, I've got a few ideas up my sleeve.