Learn marketing at home, learn digital marketing, learn copywriting, learn marketing online

Learn Marketing. No College Required

Digital Marketing, Traditional Marketing

Warning: College lecturers may find this content upsetting.

With so much content online, everybody has the opportunity to become a student and in their own time too.

You mightn’t get that diploma when you’re finished but you won’t get those bills either.

Now I’m not suggesting a boycott of traditional education. Going to college is an important growth experience for many people.

I myself found the structure of college life invaluable.

Assignments had to be in on time. Group work had to be undertaken with people of varying levels of skill and attitude.

And of course the lecturers.

A good lecturer will allow you to understand a subject in such depth and perspective that studying on your own cannot replicate.

That said, with so much quality content online, anybody can master a subject without college if they have the dedication to do so.

I’ve used Copyblogger and Hubspot for years.

They are two of the best marketing education resources online.

For a more structured approach, check out this article from Brad Zomick.

He has really put some thought into this but more than anything it shows you what is possible. Taylor a plan to your own needs. It will get you thinking.

I hope you’ve found this useful. If I’ve inspired you or you have any questions comment below.

Thank you for reading.

image from freeimages

Marketing That Turns Customers Away

Copywriting, Traditional Marketing

While in Dublin city today I saw a restaurant window that I’d seen many times before in a new light.

I’m taking the kids to the same area next week and plan to eat out somewhere before we go home. As I drove I scanned around for a suitable place and laughed to myself when I looked at Pitt Bros.

Families not welcome marketing, target market marketing, shop signage, demarketing

Read: Families not welcome

“Well I’m not taking them there anyway”, I thought to myself. Then I realised: They don’t want us there. They don’t want our business. Families are quite clearly not welcome.

And that’s fine. They know their target market. Good for them. It’s just rare to see such an obvious example of customer exclusion.

 It’s a trendy street, lots of nightlife and colleges close by and it seems to be working for them too. The place looked packed.

Still, I couldn’t help but thinking it’s lazy copywriting. Lazy and crude.

If your product has genuine quality, it seems to me that a shop front like this one gives the wrong message. Even if it is to the right people. It just feels low-rent to me.

When I got home, my curiosity still high, I did some research and came across an interesting article by Rags Srinivasan about demarketing. The practice of proactively discouraging potential customers who don’t fit your target market personas. It is available here.

Anybody have an opinion on this? If it’s working, does that then make it good copy? Am I old before my time?

Please comment below.

Thank you for reading.

DIY Copywriting: Sell The Benefits


When writing sales copy, imagine your reader is stressed, late for an appointment and in a bad mood.

Presume that no matter how great your product’s features are, she’s going to say “so what?” to every claim you make.

When you know she’s going to say “so what?” to everything you tell her about your wonderful product, you can answer her before she even asks the question.

You’re the copywriter, you do the work.

Don’t presume your reader will think about anything other than themselves.

Or that they have time to.

Your reader is busy and distracted.

She’s late, has the TV on in the background and is trying to prepare her home for a visit from the in-laws – while eating breakfast before her appointment at the salon. Phew.

She’s not likely to spend the time working out what a list of features can do for her. Or how they’ll improve her life as she scans your flyer before throwing it out.

All features have benefits. Many have more than one. What does she need to know to be interested?

Some benefits are harder to find than others. However once you put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes, it’s a logical process.

Usually there are core benefits that lead to secondary benefits.

When you know your customer, you’ll be able to decide on what’s most important to her.

One classic example is a home security system.

Your customer needs to know that this product will give her peace of mind and keep her family safe.

Only then will she go to the trouble of reading how your alarm has a finger print sensor, low power consumption and communicates with her mobile phone.

These features also have associated benefits.

Remember she’s still going to say “so what?”, so include these secondary benefits as you list the features.

Now that you’ve aroused her interest with the benefit most important to her, the secondary benefits will help her decide to buy your alarm.

Not just any alarm.

Often the primary benefit can be implied while focus is given to a secondary benefit.

Use the one that sets you apart from the competition. Remember, you don’t want to convince her to buy an alarm, you want her to buy your alarm.

Choosing which benefit to lead with is your job as a copywriter.

Don’t be afraid to only cover one benefit. Your customer really hasn’t got much time to understand your copy.

Here a crystal clear example from Dyson:

Great copy from Dyson, copywriting, benefit led, customer centric, benefit led copywriting, know your customer

Great copy from Dyson

Everything you need to know is instantly absorbed here.

If I was to offer one criticism, it would be that they should have integrated this marketing communication by including a call to action – a good reason for visiting their website or social media.

If you have any good examples of benefit led selling I’d love to hear about them.

Please comment below.

Thank you for reading.

images from advertolog and uprootedtogrow

copywriting, great headlines, good copy costs, content marketing

Why Good Copywriters Don’t Charge Per Word

Copywriting, Traditional Marketing

As a copywriter I’m always asked how much do I charge per word.

I won’t go into the answer here but I generally have to explain that it depends on if you want good copy or not (and look elsewhere if you don’t).

Realistically, paying per word will buy you poor copy.

Small is beautiful and people want your information in as few words as possible. Nothing non-essential should take up a potential customer’s time or cognition. It’s like asking a surgeon to add a few bits while he’s in there.

Whether it’s a a print headline, blog post or product brochure – less is more.

I’m reminded of an anecdote about a guy who needed a tooth removed. Let’s call him Rodney.

Rodney: “€200!, it only took you ten minutes”

Dentist who has perfected his trade, been to college for nine years: “next time I can do it more slowly if you like?”

Maybe 10% of my job is writing words. 20 – 30% is research and the rest is editing. That’s right, shortening the word count as much as possible while increasing its comprehension. Sometimes a concept doesn’t even need words, just like Band Aid and Bosch below.

People are busy, get to the point

With that in mind, let’s imagine the copywriters who came up with these master pieces were paid by the word:

Perhaps my all time favorite example of great copy. Simple and powerful. Perfect.

traditional marketing content, headline copywriting, clever copy, traditional marketing, great copy,

Great indeed. Brilliant advertisement content

Very cheeky, right on the edge. Attitude is everything for Porsche. 

Brave marketing, content marketing, brave headline content, Porsche advert

Brave marketing

Hulk Ouchey

Simple, dramatic – brilliant. both parents and kids love this one

content marketing, hulk advert, hulk doesn't need copy

hulk ouch

The power of Bosch

Great ad, shows the company USP very well. Hulk actually hurt his finger trying to do this (see image above).

Bosch advert, content marketing example, great advert

Bosch so powerful

I can’t get enough of this dumb ad

integrated marketing, headline content, creative copywriting

If anybody can add to this list I’d love to hear about it below.

Thank you for reading.

image from free images

content marketing, content marketing strategy, Good content marketing for small business, copywriting content

How The Little Guy Wins With Content Marketing

Copywriting, Digital Marketing

I’ve just read a fascinating article by Sujan Patel and thought I should share it here.

He says while most small or new businesses can only dream about having TV advertisements, a good content strategy can level the marketing playing field. He then gives ten interesting examples of businesses that got this very right.

Well worth a read, click on the image below.

content marketing strategy, small business digital marketing, content marketing, inbound marketing

Small business content marketing

Thank you for reading.

image from freeimages

copywriting, headline copy, writing print headlines, better print headlines

4 Steps To Better Print Headlines

Copywriting, Traditional Marketing

So you’re going to run a print advertisement.
You’ve paid for advertising space for 12 – 24 months, yet don’t want to pay a copywriter once.
This seems like false economy to me.
When it comes to the print branch of your integrated marketing strategy tree, excellent copywriting is essential. Especially when it comes to the headline. Copywriting for print is very different to writing for the web. It is a throw away piece.
You have one chance to be noticed, let alone impress, before you are compost.

If you still insist on writing advertisements yourself, I’m here to help for that too.

Inspired by David Ogilvy, here is my top 4 steps to actionable headlines:

1. The person you’re talking to should know it
Subtlety should be used…eh, subtly. Clarity is far more important.
Naming your target isn’t clever but will get better results, for example:
‘Dubliners: how to cut your tax bill in half’
‘Why kids need Parents who exercise’

2. We are all selfish. Say what the reader wants and why you matter
Knowing your audience is key.
They don’t know you. They possibly won’t even like you if they did. So what can you do for them?
They must have a problem you can solve.
Tell them the Who, What, Where, When, Why, or How of what you can do for them. Not just what you do.
Persona research should guide you through this process.

3. Leverage Your Brand, Your Partnerships, anything – everything.
80% of people only read the headline.
That means 80% of your marketing spend consumption is used up on the headline.
And that’s where a good portion of your effort should go to. Tell them what they need to know in the headline while still leaving them intrigued to read on.
If you sell or are partnered with a well known brand, mention it. If you’re the only place in Ireland that does this, mention it.
Essentially your headline is a mini elevator pitch.

4. Headlines should be positive, informative and independent.
Stay away from words like: no, don’t, never and nobody because when scanning your headline, some readers will misunderstand its intention.
As mentioned in step 3, your headline is a mini elevator pitch. This means that a reader should know everything they need to know after reading it. The body copy will give the details, but the concept should be in the headline.

It always amazes me that so many business owners choose to either write a print advert in house or trust the publication to do the work for them.
This is a one chance deal to gain new customers and your competitors often feature in the same publication. And it’s expensive too.
If you do decide to write advert copy yourself spend some time at it and follow the 4 steps above. Your bottom line will thank you for it.

I’ve used quite a  bland headline for this article can anybody improve it? Please comment below.

Thank you for reading.

image from besthostinngsearch

copywriting audience, marketing audience, target audience, audience persona

DIY Copywriting: Know Your Audience

Copywriting, Original Marketing

Recently a business owner friend of mine asked me to have a look at the newspaper ad he’d been running.

“It’s nice”, I said cautiously,  “except… it’s not clear on exactly what you sell, the benefits you provide, why people should visit or even who it is you’re talking to”.

Ah sure it’s just to get my name out there somehow. None of my customers probably even read that paper anyway”, he abruptly replied.

When my eyes returned from the heavens, I asked him to put the kettle on. This would take a while.

You can’t hit a target that you can’t see.

Why do so many companies send out the same marketing messages month after month not knowing exactly who they’re aiming at?

Every business has an ideal customer. Or at least an ideal customer type. If you’re not clear on who that is, you’re doing one of two things no business can afford to do. Either you’re spending more than you need to on marketing, or you’re not attracting enough customers.

Do not despair.

Understanding your customer properly may take some time and effort but you’ll be glad you took that time.

Start by creating 3 – 5 customer personas, depending on the type of product or service you sell. This will inform you on how best to speak to them and what they need to hear. As this is a DIY article I won’t go into advanced research methods, for now common sense will do.

Ask yourself, your colleagues and even existing customers to help you answer the following questions for each persona:

How old are they? Are they married, working or staying home with the kids?

Where do they live? Are they educated? Do they drive or use public transport?

What’s the household income? What’s important to them: quality, price or style? Are they on social media? What paper or magazine do they read?

What are they like? Where do they go and with whom? What are they into?

How busy are they? How can your company improve their situation?

I could go on but you get the point. With further research you can find out how many of these people actually exist, essentially learning the true size of your market. For now though we’ll concentrate on who they are. Get to it.

If you’ve answered most of the above I have great news.

By now you’ll have begun to understand which channels they’re most likely to come into contact with your message through.

And you’ll have an idea what tone, images and benefits they’ll respond to best. And, maybe more importantly, which ones they won’t.

To illustrate this point, watch the following two videos and try to reverse engineer Dove’s persona building process. Dove is selling what is basically the same product here but to two different personas.


I think it’s a fantastic example. And I love the moisturising technology and unloved armpit concepts.

They’re both fun adverts. Both selling basically the same product but in different packaging. Their personas are probably identical in many ways – salary, lifestyle and education, but the approaches needed to reach men and women are poles apart.

Using what we’ve discussed here today will make a huge difference to your marketing and advertising results. This process can be time consuming and many businesses will hire a marketer to do everything for them. Whether you’re spending time or money though, the process will ultimately pay for itself.

Thank you for reading.

image from freeimages