The apostrophes that stole Christmas (cheer) 3 days ago

Warning: this blog post contains misplaced and missing apostrophes.

As the festive season takes over, I’ve noticed something interesting. Some seasonal business marketing seems to be inspiring more Christmas jeers than cheers. It’s all thanks to a number of major apostrophe errors. The reaction is even more emphatic than usual – and it’s normally quite strong, as I’ve seen from the response to the content I share about apostrophe fails.

I’ll never forget my favourite example of misplaced Christmas apostrophes, as spotted in Nottingham a few years ago:

Image for Christmas wishes from Nottingham copywriter, Camilla Zajac

From this year’s selection, here’s a gem from a British institution, as shared by @redskyatnight and others. This is now apparently being corrected…

How about the bank that decided to drop the apostrophe from its Christmas message, as highlighted by @dannywhitelock?

Finally there’s this one from a well known American company, as brought to Twitter’s attention by @Jslackediting:

Lovely, aren’t they?

Yes, they’re only apostrophe errors, but they really do detract from your marketing message! Which business wants to do that? Whether it’s additional or absent, the misplaced apostrophe can do serious damage to the impact of your content. While we’re on the subject, here’s a little festive grammar quiz you might enjoy.

I’d like to wish all my clients and friends a very happy and (apostrophe) drama-free Christmas!

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, December 2014

What this pub sign says about the future of online 9 days ago

Image for copywriting blog on online marketing content

This pub sign made me stop and stare. It’s that bit in the middle which fascinated me – the free Wi-Fi.

That’s right. A major selling point for a high profile pub is free Wi-Fi.

To me this seems like a reflection of how far we’ve come and how easy access to online content is an everyday essential for many of us. Yet while customer expectations have changed, as this sign suggests, how many business websites are still stuck in a bygone age when a website was just an optional extra?

As this Forbes blog post on local marketing suggests,

“Many consumers don’t want to pick up the phone to make an appointment anymore—or pay for a service in-person they have booked online. They expect small service businesses to let them do these tasks online—with the same ease with which they buy things on Amazon.”

Or to put it more brutally, as in this Econsultancy post:

“Digital transformation is inevitable, either your business will do it, or you will be replaced by another business that has digitally transformed already.”

How many companies are on the brink of 2015 with a website which – whether it’s in terms of content, design or message – is set to drive visitors away rather than draw them in? How many companies still forget that their customer now has the freedom to search for and order the products and services they need at any time of the day or night, not just during office hours?

OK, it’s just a sign, but it does denote a definite shift within a relatively short space of time.

Beer, chips and business, anyone?

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, December 2014

Is your content ready for Tomorrow's World? 16 days ago

There’s nothing like a blast from the past to make you see the future anew. I realised this all too clearly when I stumbled across old footage from Tomorrow’s World recently.

It’s a powerful little reminder of how things change and how it’s never quite in the way we expect…and that business content needs to reflect this. Here’s why:

1. User first
A new innovation may look amazing, but it’s the people who will use it that matter. How will they experience the product? How will their interests shape the way a product or service develops? Both the content and copywriting approach need to be angled towards the user in the real world, not caught up in theory.

2. Review your moves
As the 1979 mobile phone reminds us, even when we think we know how an innovation is going to evolve, it never turns out quite the way we planned! The marketing messages we create around a product or service need to stay relevant, rather than being limited by the original strategy.

3. Keep up
Business isn’t static, so why is your content? Keep reviewing your copywriting strategy to keep up with the evolution of your product. If you don’t refresh your content, your product could end up sounding like an anachronism rather than an innovation.

4. Now is the time
Things change fast. Is your content’s message really relevant to its current marketplace? Truly? If not, create a copywriting strategy which closely links your product or service with the interests and concerns of people right now.

5. Embrace the unexpected
Don’t miss out on the opportunities brought about by change. Are your customers giving you unexpected feedback on something they love about your product? Has your product been picked up by a surprising niche marketplace? Make the most of these opportunities, even if they fall outside the original plan! The unexpected could prove a powerful ally in making your marketing content more productive.

Keep watching
As the Tomorrow’s World footage shows us, things go on shifting and often in ways we could never anticipate. The trick is to keep adapting. That way your content and copywriting approach will be ready for tomorrow. Whatever surprises it brings.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, December 2014

3 signs your content is over capacity 68 days ago

That business content? It really matters. So it’s no wonder companies are packing more and more into their copywriting approach. But this attempt at making the most of content can have a very negative effect. There’s one cliché I’m only too happy to repeat on this blog: less is more! If you’re wondering if your content is working at its best or well over capacity, have a look at the infographic below for 3 key signs. Just click on the image to see a larger version.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, October 2014

Can you compete with 100,000 words a day? 102 days ago

Read a lot? You certainly do. That’s according to research which suggests that each of us now processes an average of 100,000 words a day – in our leisure time alone!

Image for Nottingham copywriting blog

That’s right. In our leisure time alone…so those 100,000 words don’t even include the barrage of information most of us contend with during our working day.

Can your content compete with that?

Now let’s look at business content in the context of all this. Quite clearly, that content has a lot of work to do. It has become something of a cliché to say that we’re all suffering from information overload. Yet clichés are often clichés because they capture a grain of truth. According to a recent article in New Scientist, we only have a finite amount of attention to give.

So what does it take to make the most of this limited resource?

It takes more than a nice suit

With content, it’s all about having personality and a clearly defined proposition. Effective business content (i.e. the type of content which builds a connection with the right people) is not simply about being well-dressed. Your content may be suited and booted with spot-on grammar and perfect spelling, but that isn’t enough any more. In place of bland, you need to look for a clearly defined point of view and a difference. Sounding the same as everyone else is not a great way to define yourself.

Maximise the minus

In the battle to be noticed, I’ve seen companies giving in to yet another risky habit…trying to win the race by creating excessive amounts of content.

Yet saying more with less can be much more powerful. Take away some of your content and you could refine your message instead of diluting it.

The fact that we read more than 100,000 words in a day? It’s certainly surprising. But the real shocker is that so many businesses still aren’t adapting their content strategy.

Enough said.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, September 2014

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