THe Cutting Edge in Banbury Hair Salon

The Cutting Edge Hair Salon Reception

If you’ve thought about using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but wondered if it’s effective, read on …

Yesterday we launched the new website for Banbury hair salon: The Cutting Edge.  The site went live just before 2pm.  The salon directors understand the importance of social media and how it can help their marketing.  They use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn extensively.

Despite it being a Sunday, a day when there tends to be less social media traffic, Kirsty Pearce (Salon Director of The Cutting Edge) started promoting the new site on their Facebook page and through Twitter.

The launch of a new website is always an excellent marketing opportunity and it’s possible to generate a significant volume of traffic using social media.  We always help our clients promote their new sites and keep a close eye on the website stats to measure the effectiveness of the launch activity.

Thanks to Facebook and Twitter,  record numbers of visitors looked at the new Cutting Edge website. In less than half a day, 858 people visited the site and a staggering 2,739 page loads were registered.  How does this compare to the hits on the average small business website?

This clearly demonstrates the benefits of social media as a marketing tool.  If you’re convinced, but don’t know where to start, you can get a free copy of our WORD-right guide to using Twitter here.

Baby cabbages

Tomorrow's lunch?

To get the best results from your marketing, as with your gardening, you have to work at it.  Growing a business is a lot like gardening … would you expect to plant some seeds today … and have cabbages for lunch tomorrow?  If only ….

The garden is your business; the plants are your customers; the flowers and fruit are your sales; and the weeds, slugs and other predators are your competitors!

Marketing your company, like gardening, takes planning, effort and imagination.  So how can you make ‘your garden grow’?

  • Prepare the ground: think about your branding & niche markets
  • Preserve the older, more mature plants:  look after your existing customers.  Making repeat sales to them is 5 times easier!
  • Condition the soil with lots of good organic material:  make sure your marketing material is well-written, ideally by a professional copywriter
  • Choose good quality seeds: invest in your marketing materials – they say everything about your business
  • Watch out for predators!  Did you know a slug has 27,000 teeth? Develop a USP (Unique Selling Point). Your competitors will!  There are a lot of slugs about!
  • Nurture your seedlings:  develop good customer service strategies
  • Water & feed regularly:  communicate with your customers.  Send them newsletters … drip feed them with information
  • Propagate your own plants: ask for referrals and work on your networking
  • Boast about your garden: think about PR, and make the most of your free opportunities
Vegetable harvest

Harvesting the fruits of your marketing?

Don’t forget your company’s marketing activities will be what your prospective customer or client will use to judge you.  While you should always present yourself in a positive light, don’t over do the ‘fertiliser’!

Marketing your business takes time.  Like your garden, you shouldn’t expect results overnight.  Your objective is to build solid, long-lasting relationships with your customers.  This way you can look forward to repeat sales, referrals, and a sound customer base.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

In an earlier blog I suggested some of us small business owners should get together and have a Christmas party.  The idea went down well on Facebook and Twitter.  Now it’s time to make the decision and book your place!

Do you want to join in the ‘Buffet and Bop’ fun at:

  • Rye Hill Golf Club
  • Wednesday 7th December
  • £19.50 per person

Why not bring along your other half?  They’re the ones who support us throughout the year and put up with all the ups and downs of our business life.  Now’s the chance to say a big thank you to them too.

You’ll see the full details of the menu etc on my earlier post.

Book now!

To book your places, email me telling me how many places you’d like reserved.  Payment is by cheque only (£19.50 per person), payable to Rye Hill Golf Club.   I’ll email you by return telling you where to send the cheque.  Please note: payment MUST be made by cheque.  We can’t accept cheque or debit / credit card payments.

Booking Deadline

  • Bookings and cheques must be received by Friday 25th November to secure your place(s).
  • Bookings will depend on availability at Rye Hill.

Well … what are you waiting for?  Email me and write that cheque today!

Happy Christmas!

Ever noticed how a small business owner misses out at Christmas?  It’s a bit hard to have a staff party just for one or two, and as for secret Santas … forget it!

Rye Hill Golf Club

Party time at Rye Hill

So here’s your chance to join other local businesses for a Christmas party night.  We’re organising a get-together at Rye Hill Golf Club near Banbury for one of their Buffet and Bop nights.  This is a great opportunity to network, have a great night out and enjoy a ‘work Christmas do’ with other like-minded people.

The date!

Wednesday 7th December  (other dates may be available, but please understand we can’t please all of the people all of the time!)

The cost?

Just £19.50 per person  which includes:

  • A buffet served at our table
  • Dancing to the resident DJ
  • Party games, crackers, hats and novelties
  • The bar is open until 00.30am

The party plan!

Bring along a significant other (or not), the choice is yours – we only need a party of 8 people to join in the fun.

The buffet menu

  • Turkey & cranberry wraps
  • Chipping Norton pork chipolatas wrapped in smoked bacon
  • Mackerel & horseradish tartlets
  • Oxford blue cheese & mushroom mini quiches
  • Cranberry & parmesan cheese straws
  • Filo wrapped king prawns, spicy chilli dipping sauce
  • Mini éclairs
  • Mini Xmas puddings

Dress code

Anything between smart casual to a touch of glam!

Want to join us?  

If you would like to celebrate Christmas with some local business buddies, get in touch by email.  A non-refundable £10 deposit per person (cheques payable to Rye Hill Golf Club) will be  needed to confirm your booking.

Ho ho ho!  

We received a worrying email today from a website client who manages and updates her own site.  The site, which previously performed well, had suddenly dropped down the rankings.  It was no longer found on key searches and she wanted to know if we could help.  Like everyone, the client was keen to keep her site high on the rankings and increase its performance.

One of her business acquaintances had given her some ‘SEO advice’.  Unfortunately she didn’t verify it or investigate it further before putting it into action.  Instead of improving her ranking, this bad advice had disastrous results.

The advice was to create ‘invisible copy’ on her site.  The additional new copy, which was stuffed with keywords, was presented on the site in a white font on a white background.  The text was not visible to the human visitor but was, or so she was told, an effective way to optimise the website.

This is black hatting at its worst.  Black hat SEO is the unethical attempt to manipulate the search engine rankings.  It is not only bad practice, but dangerous.  The search engines’ sophisticated technology can spot black hat SEO a mile away and will rightly penalise the site.  In the worst case scenario, the site can be disqualified from the searches.

Other unethical black hat SEO techniques include keyword stuffing and doorway pages.  There is a useful and informative post on black hat SEO on the website.

If your website isn’t performing as it should, there is no substitute for professionally written SEO copy.  Keeping your site updated and fresh will ensure your ranking is preserved and improved.

So please, whatever you do, don’t be tempted to try and diddle the search engines.  They’re too smart to fall for it, and your website and your sales enquiries will suffer as a result.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

The price: what you pay a professional copywriter
The cost: the damage to your business if you don’t

As copywriters, we use an external proofreader to check all the writing we do for our clients.  This isn’t because we don’t know how to spell, or don’t understand grammar, it’s about maintaining professional standards and attention to detail.

When we run our Masterclass sessions or in our work with student writers, we stress how hard it is to proof your own writing.  You only see what you THINK you’ve written and it’s easy for mistakes to creep in.  It only takes a slip of the fingers or a misplaced apostrophe to create a mistake.

A post on the BBC website yesterday said poor spelling can have a significant impact on business, and is costing millions in lost sales.  The fact is – poor copywriting in general will cost you sales.

Unfortunately, few people realise the very tangible benefits of having professionally written copy.  There is a considerable difference between just being able to write and good copywriting.

Last year a new client was concerned about the performance of their website.  Despite paying for SEO services, it didn’t appear on any searches, even in their local area, and wasn’t bringing them any business.  We reviewed the site and it was obvious the problem was in the copy.  It was poorly written, didn’t provide a good visitor experience, and wasn’t optimised.  Less than two weeks after rewriting the copy, the site had shot to the top of Google and was generating business.  That’s the difference between being able to write and good copywriting!

While we use our wonderful proofreaderto check our clients’ copy, we don’t always send our own in-house copy to be checked.  That’s something we’re about to change.  Yesterday we found a glaring typo in the first line of our WORD-right newsletter!  No excuses – we both checked it more than once, but it still slipped through the net.  And that is, quite simply, unacceptable and it certainly won’t happen again.

We frequently see inaccurate copy which has been written by professional writers.  Because we know our copywriting service will increase your sales, we don’t take any chances.

Now we’re going to make sure we do the same for ourselves.  So it’s time to wind up this post and send it off to our proofreader!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Having recently celebrated WORD-right’s 5th birthday, we’ve spent some time thinking about the last five years.

Like many people who venture into life as a full-time copywriters, I had several illusions which were quickly shattered.  My plan was to work like mad through the winter months.  In the summer I would work part-time … sitting outside with a long cool drink and a laptop, creating compelling copy in the sunshine.  The reality check started on 4th July 2006!

Real life copywriting

A copywriter’s life is fascinating, sometimes stressful, but never dull.  Because we work from home, we are seldom off duty and frequently speak to and see clients in the evening, as well as during the day.  Deadlines must be met and we often burn the midnight oil to complete a rush job.

The past five years have been a roller-coaster ride.  We moved from Sussex to Chipping Norton, with a two month stay in Portsmouth in-between.  Not many businesses can boast launching in three different counties in their first nine months!

Mine of information

In my opinion, a copywriter must have a thirst for knowledge.  This is an essential attribute if you are going to become a freelance writer.  Some of our more ‘eclectic’ copywriting subjects have included Santa’s Grottos and Christian Healing!

We were fascinated to learn how Pringles tubes were made.  Writing about alpaca breeding provided a firm footing for a dog breeder’s website.  I’m now almost an authority on beauty treatments thanks to Serenity at Sibford, and The Cutting Edge in Banbury is educating us in the art of hairdressing.  And have you any idea how many different types of hairdressing scissors you can buy?  We didn’t before we met the Scissor Man!

The delights of freelance copywriting

Apart from satisfying our desire for knowledge, our greatest pleasure has come from working with a host of amazing people.  We tend to work with our clients on an ongoing basis, several of whom have been with us since 2006.  Each business is unique and the people working in these businesses are hard-working and inspirational.

As well as clients, we work alongside other professionals who help us deliver our service.  A special thank you must go to our pernickety proof-reader who has been making sure our every ‘i’ is dotted and ‘t’ crossed for the past two years.  In our opinion, every copywriter needs a Proof Fairy!
So you want to be a copywriter?  Recommendations …

We are frequently contacted by would-be copywriters looking for advice.  If this is you, here are some of our recommendations:

  • Be prepared to work long, often unsociable hours – the job isn’t over until the deadline’s met
  • Give your clients 150% and then some more – remember who pays your wages
  • Learn your craft, never stop learning and pay attention to detail
  • Keep up-to-speed with everything going on – technology doesn’t stand still and nor should you
  • Don’t forget your work-life balance – copywriters need days off too!

Finally … if you dream of sitting in the sun writing, invest in a large garden umbrella … or you won’t be able to see the screen on your laptop!

What the future holds for WORD-right

WORD-right’s services have evolved over the past five years.  We added WEB-right, our small business website package, to the mix in 2009.  In 2011, we launched our Copywriting Masterclasses.  This year we have also gone ‘International’, working for an interesting combination of overseas companies.

Because we are passionate about the power of the written word, we want to help encourage more talented writers make a career in copywriting.  That project is already in the pipeline.

And of course, most importantly, we will be continuing to work with our client companies.  Thank you to them all.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy


You do!  We never cease to be amazed by the number of external website developers or web masters who don’t give clients access to their website stats.  Instead sadly, they seem to begrudgingly email the odd bit of information … now and again … when they get round to it … like crumbs from the rich man’s table.

Your website is a vital part of your company’s marketing.  And, like any marketing initiative, you need to measure its effectiveness.  If you don’t have full access to this information, you can never hope to achieve a return on your website investment.  You’ll find some information about using your stats further down this post.

Which stats package?

There are countless website stats packages available.  The most well known is probably Google Analytics.  If you are selling online or tracking pay-per-click advertising (PPC), Google Analytics is very useful.  But in my opinion, Google Analytics is hard work.  Someone who isn’t used to reading website stats might find it difficult.

We recommend Statcounter ( and have been using it since 2005.  It is very visual and intuitive to use.  Statcounter provides a wealth of information at a glance, with ‘drill downs’ for more in-depth analysis.  We install Statcounter on all our websites, our clients’ websites, and on our blogs.  The free package is more than adequate for most small businesses, and paid-for upgrades are available for sites with large volumes of traffic.
You can install more than one stats package on your website.  There is nothing to stop you installing Google Analytics for in-depth PPC reporting and Statcounter for every day use.

Your website – your stats!

If you are one of the many who don’t have access to your website stats – do something about it.  Don’t ask for access.  Demand it!  It is YOUR website and YOU need to know how it’s performing.

If you are managing a client’s website, be sure to give them access to their stats and help them understand the information available.  You won’t be giving them good service if you don’t!

What will website stats tell you?


Keywords are essential to your site’s optimisation.  Your website stats will show exactly what search terms people use to find your site.  It will show which keywords are the most effective.  This is valuable intelligence.  Rewriting some of your copy to include the most  relevant keywords can improve your site’s performance.

Entry pages

Websites are not like books.  Visitors don’t start on the home page and work their way through from start to finish.  If people are consistently entering your site on a specific page, it means it is well optimised and might contain the most relevant keywords.  You can use this information to improve the performance of other pages.

Exit pages

This information shows where people leave your site.  Of course, they have to leave somewhere, so what does this tell you?  For example: if visitors regularly leave the site quickly after visiting a specific page, it might suggest the content isn’t meeting their needs or answering their questions.  Revising the copy on that page could convert visitors into positive sales enquiries.

Visit length

The average website visit is just a matter of seconds.  You want to encourage visitors to stay longer, read the information and act on it.  The statistics will show how long people spend on your site. The longer they are there, the more likely you are to get an enquiry or a sale.  If your visitors don’t stay on your site, you will need to adjust to content to make it more desirable.

Referring sites

As well as knowing which search engines are sending traffic to your site, you can also use this information to measure the effectiveness of your other marketing activities.  If you pay to advertise on directory sites, for example, but get no traffic from them, you are wasting your money.  Sites which regularly refer visitors might be worth greater investment.

If you use social media as a marketing tool, you can measure its effectiveness by the number of referrals to your site.

Which pages are viewed most / least?

Your website stats show the most and least popular of the pages.  You can see how people travel round your site and which pages have the greatest appeal.  You can use this information to make your content more appealing to the visitor and give them the information they want.

Other marketing activity

Your website stats can help you measure your other marketing activity.  If you use email marketing, mail shots, or advertising for example, you need to know if this is increasing traffic to your website as well as your sales enquiries.

So don’t be fobbed off – if you have a website managed by a third party, be sure you have a good easy-to-understand stats package installed and you can access it whenever you want.

No business should have to depend on crumbs from the rich man’s table. 

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

With our Professional Copywriting Techniques Masterclass being held next week on  the 26th May, we are giving away a free place to a charity.

This would be ideal for someone who works in a charity’s fundraising or marketing department.  Attendance at our half-day Masterclass will benefit someone who has to write appeal letters, website copy and other promotional material.

The half-day Masterclass will be held at Bloxham Mill Business Centre, Bloxham, near Banbury, on Thursday 26th May between 9.15am and 12.30pm.  Full details can be found on our website.

What’s the catch?  There isn’t one!  We have a couple of places spare and decided there are plenty of worthwhile causes which could benefit from coming along free of charge.  Apart from that … we need someone to help eat the Danish pastries mid-morning!

If your charity would benefit from some free copywriting training, please send us an email and give us a little information about the work you do.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Listening to a podcast of Friday’s Banburyshire Info Business Show has prompted this blog. The conversation between Chris Hogan of OxCopy and Ray Avery of Bloxham Mill Business Centre suggested home workers often have a problem finding suitable venues for meetings.

We work from home and make no secret of the fact.  We have a well set-up office, which means lower overheads and we can keep our travelling time and costs to a minimum.

As copywriters, we work for companies literally all over the UK and overseas, and we are able to work remotely.  We have several long-standing clients who we have never met!  They’re like old friends, yet we wouldn’t recognise them in the street.  In this situation, the meeting problem never arises.

However, when we moved back to Chipping Norton and started to develop our local business, it was clear we were going to need a venue for meetings.  Like many other home workers, we held meetings in coffee shops, hotels and even the odd pub.  We also sometimes take advantage of the facilities at nearby Bloxham Mill Business Centre.

But a couple of years ago, we accidentally discovered the marketing benefits of holding client meetings in our home.  By inviting clients and prospective clients here, we give them a sense of security.  If they have a problem, they know exactly where we are and how to find us.

Some companies are reluctant to use outsource consultants who shroud themselves in anonymity.  Many home workers don’t reveal their address and only use a mobile phone.  How do you know if that person is in Wick or Wolverhampton?  If I was entrusting work to someone, I would want to know where to find them!

So holding client meetings at home works for us.  Our clients come along, sit at the table with a coffee (and the odd biscuit or cake) and it’s business all the way.  We are open and visible and our clients appreciate that approach. They are reassured to see we genuinely are a local business, living and working in the community.

There is a down-side of course.  An at-home client meeting usually means a frantic flurry with the duster and vacuum cleaner and the dog has to be on her best behaviour.  But it’s a small price to pay!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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