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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

The Tribe Discovers the Three Secrets of Effective Copywriting

Last time, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) lead marketer Marka and Brandy the branding expert discussed how to use your company’s logo, slogan and outbound communications to create a compelling brand presence. This week, copywriting guru Cecil gives a lecture on how to craft engaging marketing communications. Remember, fire = print.

“Who could Brandy be bringing back?” Marka wondered to herself.

Brandy returned to the counter along with an eight-foot tall, shirtless colossus. His bald head shone with the sweat of a night’s drinking and a single eye stuck in the middle of his forehead like a seed in a patch of soil.

“Hello,” said the giant man. “I’m Cecil, copywriter extraordinaire.”
“A Cyclops!” Marka shrieked.

“Don’t worry,” reassured Brandy. “He’s a nice guy.”

“Well, OK,” Marka said, turning to face the huge one-eyed creature looking friendly enough. “Cecil, what tips do you have for creating written communications that will cut through the clutter? We want customers and prospects to look forward to our O-mails and Fire! newsletters each month.”

“Presenting, my three secrets of effective copywriting,” Cecil announced. He fished three signs out of his baggy pants pocket and held up the first one:

Cecil’s First Secret for Effective Copywriting: Lead with Benefits, yet Stay Honest and Believable

Cecil began, “People read business communications to stay up-to-date on technology, products and services that will make their business and personal lives easier. When writing promotional materials for FEI, we need to always remember that our customers want peace of mind and a good night’s sleep. They don’t want to worry. They want access to fire when they want fire. It’s really that simple.

“Yeah, they should associate the FEI brand with technical proficiency—like how fire is made and where it comes from— but we must clearly say what’s in it for them," Cecil continued. "Avoid making nectar-in-the-sky promises that our sales and production teams can’t keep. In fact, under promise and over deliver. Let our company’s actions speak louder than words.”

“I’m with you so far,” Marka said.

“Glad we’re agreed,” Cecil replied pleasantly. “Now, on to the second.”

Cecil’s Second Secret for Effective Copywriting: Write Copy that’s Dripping with Useful Information

“Olympus has become an ‘O-world.’ Information is everywhere—there’s too much of it!” Cecil exclaimed. “‘O-Google,’ ‘O-Pedia’ and other popular O-sites offer a grape-load of information, not all correct. People still need help navigating down the right seaway. If our communications help reduce informational chaos, we will get closer to winning valuable top of mind positioning.”

“Hard to find an issue with that one,” Marka said with a shrug.

“Moving on!” Cecil exclaimed.

Cecil’s Third Secret for Effective Copywriting: Write Like an Eighth Grader

“Really?” Marka asked, a little skeptical.

“The average Olympian reads at an eighth grade level,” Cecil answered. “We must only use words that most people know. Desist from using obscure, onerous ones. Pedantic word choices frustrate readers and metamorphose your message into one that is unintelligible.

“Use lots of short words and short sentences,” Cecil continued. “On average, our sentences should have 12 words or fewer. While nothing’s grammatically wrong with longer ones, readers can lose interest. So. Don’t. Do. It.

“Write in the second person active tense. You shouldn’t be afraid to use ‘you’ in your writing. After all, when you’re the one doing the reading, don’t you want to know what’s in it for you?”

“You betcha.” Marka agreed.

“Yep,” Cecil said. “Implement these copywriting tips and we’ll end up with promotional materials that convey the essence of FEI’s brand in a succinct and interesting way.”

Marka looked back at the crummy old FEI pamphlet. “You know, this piece suffers from lackluster design as well as unimaginative copywriting.”

“Lackluster design, huh?” Cecil asked with a smile. “Did I happen to mention I have TWO specialties?”

Today’s FIRE! Point:
Good copywriting techniques can help you create business communications that convey the essence of your brand and selling proposition. Effective copywriting focuses on customer benefits rather than mundane details, provides useful information and reads simply and clearly. Business communications that follow these guidelines will provide the clear, helpful voice your customers and prospects crave—and may compel them to call you for an estimate.

Fire! in Action
Effective copy leads to more sales for SEO Book

The online SEO training program rewrote its sales letter, improving the headline, flow and structure. The results? Affiliate conversion rates doubled in the next month.

Next week: Cecil triumphantly returns to lead a discussion on how to create captivating graphic designs that can help your brand stand out.

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Most Recent Comments:
Werner Rebsamen - Posted on August 16, 2010
Thanks TJ! Love your contributions. Keep it up. All the Best from NH, Werner Rebsamen Professor Emeritus RIT
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Archived Comments:
Werner Rebsamen - Posted on August 16, 2010
Thanks TJ! Love your contributions. Keep it up. All the Best from NH, Werner Rebsamen Professor Emeritus RIT