Great copywriting + poor customer service = fail

As I said to a new client the other day, I can produce the best copywriting in the world – copywriting that projects a business at its very best, but if an organisation’s follow-up or customer service isn’t up to scratch, then it will fail. This week – as a potential customer – I have been astonished at the response I’ve received when contacting various organisations for information. Zero. Zilch. Not a squeak.

Attracted by their glossy website, I emailed a hotel to see if they could store my bike overnight if I booked a room. I emailed a guesthouse to see if they had any vacancies at the end of August. I heard nothing. I tried desparately to get through to our local Halfords on several occasions only to be left hanging on the line with no-one answering the call. And, when they eventually did, they were less than helpful. And not at all friendly. (I see Halfords has been voted the worst for customer service in Which? High Street survey.)

Yet – also attracted by their glossy website – I emailed another B&B and hotel to see if they could store my bike overnight. Oh yes, they both said, we can store it in a lockable outhouse. But, if you’d rather not bring your bike, you can hire one in the local village.

So guess which accommodation I chose?

Guess which shop I won’t be using for my bike spares?

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Back to the topic of briefing a copywriter…

Many clients have such a compelling message that, as their copywriter, I instantly know what the hook for (e.g.) a sales letter will be. Indeed I get so excited about their products or services that, if I were in their sector, I’d buy them myself. Sometimes I have bought the product or service. I once opened a new bank account because I was so impressed with what I was writing. I have taken out insurance in this way, too. My mother purchased her handmade bedroom furniture from one of my clients on the strength of my recommendation. Also, I have been known to recommend clients’ products or services to other clients, too, when I am confident that here we have a fabulous business selling great products with fantastic benefits to the customer. Continue reading “Back to the topic of briefing a copywriter…”

My, how BIG you’ve grown, Mr Client!

Yesterday I did a bit of work for four of my longest-standing and most successful clients. And it occurred to me that I’ve been with these clients since they were tiny, several years before the recent recession struck. Back in the day, the founder called to ask if I could help out with some copywriting: a brochure, sales letter or website. In one case it was simply to critique his existing marketing material to see where it could be improved. Today all four clients are BIG. In two out of four cases, the original founder has taken a back seat while a strong team of in-house marketers and sales people run his business for him. Two out of the four clients come from the manufacturing sector which is fantastic news, considering the way the recession decimated many British manufacturing companies. Continue reading “My, how BIG you’ve grown, Mr Client!”

Saw plenty of this fencing today – and some…

I always thought this ad for steel security fencing was rather good. It won a D&AD award in 1994 (Art Director: Wayne Hanson, Copywriter: Graham Daldry, Advertising Agency: BDH Advertising Limited). Every time I see this type of fencing I think of that ad – and today, as I cycled to work along the (deceptively picturesque sounding) Wykebeck Way cycle route in North East Leeds, I saw plenty of security steel fencing. Continue reading “Saw plenty of this fencing today – and some…”

Ah, fond memories of advertising eastern bloc cars…

Last night’s James May’s Cars of the People on BBC2 brought back some memories as he took to the wheel of eastern bloc cars like the Trabant and Lada. Back in the early 1990s, as a direct marketing copywriter at the Leeds advertising agency, Poulter plc, I wrote a number of mail-packs and leaflets for Lada. Before that, at Leeds advertising agency, BRAHM, I did the odd bit of copywriting for another eastern bloc car – Yugo – a brand used by Zastava Automobiles for export markets. I’ve just come across an old Yugo ad (see left) from when I was a copywriter at BRAHM advertising (NB I didn’t write the copy for the ad and I can’t remember who did). Continue reading “Ah, fond memories of advertising eastern bloc cars…”

What is my favourite TV commercial of all time?

It’s this commercial for Alka-Seltzer from 1997 with a voiceover by Sir Donald Sinden and the tagline Alka-Seltzer: When you’ve eaten something you shouldn’t have. Why do I like it? Because it’s so incredibly simple – and it makes me chuckle. I only ever saw it on TV once. But the fact that it remained ingrained in my memory is testament to the fact that, IMO, it’s a fantastic ad. (My only gripe is that I feel the final word – have – in the tagline doesn’t need to be there??) The Independent Television Commission received 40 complaints about the commercial because of the implications of cannibalism. Thankfully, the ITC didn’t uphold the complaints.

How to advertise a toilet?

What’s the best way to advertise an electronically controlled toilet that shoots a spray of water towards your private parts once you’ve finished doing your business? Well, the Germans seem to think that ballet dancers dancing on water in slow motion is the way to do it – sensually drenching themselves in H2O as they leap through walls of crystal clear water and so on. Well, I guess it’s a tad more tasteful than their other ad, possibly, which shows the toilet in action with what appears to be a ghost using it. (Note the bum/butt-shaped heart logo…)

Why are e-books subject to VAT when printed books are not?

As an amateur writer / author as well as a professional copywriter, I’ve published a handful of e-books – on Kindle and via other e-book distributors. I’ve also self-published the same books in print form and I always charge less for the e-books. After all, there are zero costs to me once I’ve formatted my manuscript for Kindle or whatever, which is pretty simple when you know how. I also get higher royalties for e-books. So the reader gets a cheaper book, the carbon footprint of producing and fulfilling the book is nigh on zero and I get a higher royalty. Everybody wins. Continue reading “Why are e-books subject to VAT when printed books are not?”

Please ALWAYS run your language translations past a native speaker / copywriter before going to print

P1020513It always makes me chuckle when I’m overseas and come across an ‘English translation’ where they haven’t quite got it right. The following, on an official notice above the gates welcoming visitors to the city of Lucca, Tuscany, is one of the better translations I’ve seen: Continue reading “Please ALWAYS run your language translations past a native speaker / copywriter before going to print”

Talking about collecting money…

It’s almost Friday – and Friday is Invoicing Day at Creative Copy Copywriting Services. It’s also Chasing Up Overdue Invoices Day. It never fails to astonish me how businesses differ when it comes to paying external suppliers like copywriters. Some of my clients (my favourite clients… ha ha, I wonder why…) pay the instant I send the invoice. Others (better still!) offer to pay in advance. And then there are the stragglers… Those businesses that stipulate 30 days or whatever but fail to keep to their side of the bargain. So I have to chase them up, often more than once. Sometimes over and over again. Continue reading “Talking about collecting money…”