Why Fit In When You Can Stand Out

Why Fit In When You Can Stand Out

The 5 Truths About Commercial Copy Writing

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The path between a great idea and a great broadcast ready commercial is paved with excellent copy writing. Unfortunately, often times and at no fault of the copy writer, the message gets obscured because of the too-many-cooks principle.

If it was up to copy writers alone all commercials would be divine inspirations that communicate an idea clearly and effectively. However as you know there’s more to the process including well intentioned sales people, the clients themselves and don’t forget the client’s knowledgable hairdresser who believes the product name should be said at least 6 times in a :30 second commercial to be most effective!

If you’re a commercial copy writer and you’re looking for ammunition to pull out when all of the above “cooks” start trying to help make the commercial better, arm yourself with my 5 truths about commercial copy writing.

  1. Commercials are meant to sell, not entertain 

    A successful commercial is not one that wins awards for it’s creativity or that’s funny, it’s one that motivates the listener to act. To go out and buy the product, period.

    This should be your main goal as soon as you sit down to write and if it’s not you’re being unfaithful to the client’s needs.

  2. Less is more

    It’s not just a cliché. Retailers who buy commercial airtime sometimes think that they need to fill it with as much information about their product as they can possible squeeze in. You’ll need to explain to them that this approach works against the purpose of the commercial…stimulating an emotional response which then motivates the audience to act.

    My friend Nick Michaels takes it a step further when he says, “The more words you use the LESS the listener gets to actively participate. Does your message allow for the act of discovery or is the listener a VICTIM of the message?”

    The white space you leave between the words is where the audience gets to participate through introspection and inadvertently internalizes the message you’re trying to convey.

  3. Advertising solves problems

    Let’s be honest, people don’t care about the product, they care about what the product can do for them.

    When you’re tasked with writing a commercial the first question you need to ask yourself is “what problem does it solve?” and then build a message that conveys that information to the listener in a meaningful way.

    It’s a 3 step process:

    Step 1 – Identify the need that will be filled or problem that will be solved

    Step 2 – Make the listener aware of that need or problem

    Step 3 – Show them how the product will solve that need or problem

  4. One core message is all you need

    More today than at any other time, your audience is busy living their lives and will only respond to a simple, crystal clear message that they can relate to.

    If in your creative meeting you conclude that XYZ Money Lenders ‘will solve your money problems’ make that your core message and build the commercial backwards from there. Your core message is the bullseye of the entire commercial and the fact that their lineups are short, their staff is friendly or that they have 18 convenient locations, is not. Anything that is outside of your target will only confuse the message.

    If the client insists on mentioning more than one core message suggest a separate commercial for each of them.

  5. Radio is a visual medium

    I’ve spent more years working in radio than in television but the truth is that building a picture in the mind of the listener and igniting introspection, is at the core of radio’s success. This is thoroughly explained in an article titled Visual Imagery: Applications to Advertising on the Association for Consumer Research website (quoted below).

    [blockquote author=”John R. Rossiter, Columbia University”][Mental] imagery may prove to be the primary principle for the psychology of learning.[/blockquote]

    From a practical (ie. budgetary) standpoint when you’re writing a radio commercial vs. TV commercial you have much more freedom to create than in TV. When you’re writing for radio use the medium to it’s fullest potential.

Conclusion: Commercial copy writing isn’t a lost art but it does sometimes get overlooked in the fast paced, day-to-day operations of connecting clients to consumers. I hope this list helps you do that in a way that benefits both you and your clients.

What would you add to my list? Leave your thoughts or commercial copy writing truths in the comment field below.

Software That Helps Communicate Facial Expressions

“Feelings, whoa, whoa, whoa, feelings….” as the Morris Albert song goes…are not always expressed in a meaningful way by everybody.

While it may not matter as much on an interpersonal level, when there are millions of advertising/marketing dollars on the line you may want a better understanding of consumer “feelings”.

For decades, advertising and marketing agencies have employed focus groups to help their clients better understand their customers. However, using the more traditional methods of collecting data isn’t always fool proof.

Today there is a way to take the guesswork out of interpreting focus group results using facial recognition software.

High Tech Answer
There are 2 primary companies who have dove into this field with both feet.

1) Affectiva is a spinoff of MIT’s Media Lab and their software claims to be able to get an accurate measurement of people’s true feelings with what they claim is the largest database of facial expressions, correlate-able to their appropriate emotions.

And 2) Eyeris who have already sold their flagship software EmoVu to 3-letter law enforcement for use during interrogations. Now, Eyeris is exploring how to embed EmoVu into consumer electronics. The idea is to tap into the camera of a smart TV (or phone) to understand what the people in the room are enjoying (or not) and to make recommendations for other programming to watch! Rest assured it’s a feature that the consumer will be able to turn on or off.

Knight Rider Revisited
Both companies are considering their technology for the automotive industry. Imagine a car that will recognize your facial expressions and react accordingly. If you were falling asleep…it might suggest you pull over for a nap or if it saw that you were getting aggravated in traffic it might suggest some relaxing music. Another application might be in hospitals to gauge the true feelings of post operative patients to help make treatment decisions to aid with their recovery.

Knight Rider

When it comes to understanding consumer behaviour the implications for this kind of technology are far reaching. Any advertising or marketing firm who want to be able to give the best information to their clients should at least be considering this software.

Technology Crutch
The technology shouldn’t be used as a cover-all but to help in asking the right focus group participant, the right question. If one subject reacts in a negative way to a commercial or product presentation for example, it opens the door to specifically ask them a question to understand why.

A warning: the data attainable by facial recognition software should be used as an aid, not as pure illumination.

I have always been and remain a fan of Clotaire Rapaille‘s method of gaining insight for his clients, but if you are looking for a high tech solution one of the aforementioned will get the job done.

 

9 Awesome Websites for Royalty Free Stock Images for Commercial Use

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Whether you’re building a website, blog post, creating an info graphic or ad campaign, here are 9 of my favourite places to get royalty free stock images.

1. PIXABAY – Has got to be the easiest of these website to search for the right picture. You can use the category browser or use the “search” feature. The only downside to the search feature is that sometimes it will show you pictures that come from paying services like Shutterstock which kind of defeats the purpose, but that’s how the finance the website.

2. GRATISOGRAPHY – Another beautifully designed website, easy to browse. There are lots of fun and quirky choices here…also some very attractive shots too. All pictures were photographed by Ryan McGuire and free of copyright restrictions.

3. PICOGRAPHY – While the collection here is smaller than the previously mentioned websites, the pictures are truly stunning. Try the search feature and see what you can come up with for your next project in need of a photo. Picography is also looking for your input on their pics, note the comments set ion for each pic.

4. PUBLIC DOMAIN ARCHIVE – The collection here is likewise smaller, but the quality of those images is high. This website is put together by Matt Hobbs and his family. For a small fee ($10/month) you can get access to a private collection of images and bulk downloads.

5. UNRESTRICTED STOCK – While they do provide high quality photographs, the forte of this website seems to be it’s vector graphics and icon sets. Be sure to read their license agreement before you download.

6. LIFE OF PIX – You can use the Google-esque search engine or browse through another set of stunningly amazing pictures by category here. This website I’m proud to say has been put together by a local Montreal agency (Leeroy Advertising Agency).

7. PIC JUMBO – Another fantastic set of images for you to use in your personal or commercial work. What I like the most about this website (besides the photographs of course) is the “test-drive” feature that lets you see what the photo you’re thinking of downloading in various contexts. Try it out! This website also provides a premium service ($6/month) where you can have pics sent directly to your email.

8. UNSPLASH – Even more beautiful photographs here but in a “non-splashy” format. The Ello-ish style helps to keep your attention on the pictures themselves and not on the web design.

9. NEW OLD STOCK – And just incase you’re looking for picture from days gone past, this website should be your go-to. As it says on their rights-and-usage page, these photos are “to the best of my knowledge” available to the public domain. Depending on the picture you may want to verify if it’s OK to use in your project.

Take your time to explore this list and decide which websites to bookmark for your next project. Depending on your style and what you’re looking for some of them will be better suited to your needs than others. If you feel compelled, share this post using one of the methods below. Happy browsing!

The Problem with Small Businesses Marketing Strategy

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When it comes to getting new customers my mantra has always been “stop communicating, start connecting” and there is no better streamlined tool for doing that today than social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter.

The problem starts when small businesses focus all of their attention on that aspect of marketing and push aside the other 80% of their marketing strategy!

Rich Gordon, a professor at Northwestern University and Zachary Johnson, the CEO of Syndio Social released a study that suggests that 50% of small businesses website visitors arrive through social media means as compared to only 18% for large business websites.

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What it may look like is that small business is using social media more effectively than large business but in fact what this data tells me is that when it comes to marketing themselves, small businesses seem to rely far too much on social media!

How are large businesses attracting customers to their website the other 81.3% of the time?! Imagine how much you could increase your bottom line if you could learn to do the same thing….but on a small business marketing budget.

Bottom Line: Watch, learn and mimic how large companies market themselves in the offline world to increase YOUR bottom line.

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