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If I had £5 for every time someone said, “I don’t want a lot written – it’ll only take five minutes”, I would be rich.  The fact is no copywriter will attempt to write something as important as marketing copy in a few minutes.  If they profess to … I would seriously doubt their professionalism and standard of work.

Long copy or short copy?

Many people assume it takes a lot longer to write 500 words than it does to write 50 words.  Wrong!  It is much easier to write 500 words on a given subject than to summarise that message into 50.

Try it for yourself: write a twenty word sentence and then try to say exactly the same thing in four or five words.

Writing short copy needs economical use of words, command of the language and a great deal of skill.  It’s not something you can do in five minutes.

The copywriting process

Before starting writing, your copywriter needs to understand your business. That takes time.  If you engage your copywriter on an ongoing basis, they will of course become knowledgeable about you and your company, which speeds up this part of the process.

Your writer will also have to be briefed.  They must understand the ‘proposition’.  For example: they need to know the purpose of the copy, how and where it will be used, and who your target market is.  That takes more time.

With that information under their belt, your copywriter will move into the planning stage.  Everyone works in different ways.  Some writers will plan the copy on paper or make a list of the main points perhaps, while others map it out mentally.  Time-consuming research is often needed too.  How are we doing for time?  Is that five minutes up yet?

The next stage is actually writing the draft copy.  While an average typist will have a typing speed of around 40 words a minute, remember this is a  copy typing rate.  It does not allow for the creativity and time needed to craft powerful copy.

Once the draft copy has been written, it must be printed and checked.  The copywriter will check every word carefully to make sure it is correct, accurate and is delivering the right message.  Here at WORD-right, the copy is always checked by two different people.  That’s because when you try to proof something you’ve written yourself, you only see what you think you’ve written, not what is actually there.  Is the time up yet?

Next, the copywriter has to compose the email to you, attach the file and send it – OK that bit doesn’t take long!

Now it’s over to you: the client.  You might want some revisions.  So the copywriter goes back over the copy, ‘tweaks’ it, and the printing and checking stages are done all over again.

So even if you just want a short bit of copy, can you really expect anyone to do all that in five minutes?

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Advertisements

We’re big fans of email newsletters.  They are a potent marketing tool when managed properly.  It’s not hard to do and you don’t need a lot of technical skills to implement your own email marketing campaign.

There are a host of different email marketing applications available.  Some, like www.ymlp.com and www.mailchimp.com have free versions available.

If it’s so easy, why do so many businesses still get it wrong?  I had a speculative email yesterday from a local pub-come-restaurant.  This particular hostelry hasn’t got the best customer service reputation in town.  So no, we probably weren’t going to rush out and book a table for their Christmas party night.

So what made this email such a major blunder?

  1. It was sent from their normal email address, using the BCC (blind copy) facility.  That makes it looks amateurish at best.
  2. They didn’t use an opt-in list, so it wasn’t targeted in any way.
  3. Instead of putting the Christmas party information on their website to encourage traffic, they sent two attachments with the email.  Would you risk opening a file like that?  No, nor did I.

OK, these are common mistakes and can be forgiven.  But the biggest blunder of all … their mailbox is full!  Any email responses simply bounce back with a message saying … ‘Mailbox disk space quota exceeded, please try again later’.  They clearly didn’t come to WORD-right.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

And if you’re wondering how I know, I replied immediately asking to be removed from their mailing list.  But suppose I wanted to make a booking …

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.

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

The Gallery, Ryehill Golf Club, Milcombe, Banbury.
31st March 2011.  7.30 – 10pm

Wedding photography by Fiona Baker

Photograph by kind permission of Fiona Baker

The Cutting Edge Hair and Beauty Salon in Banbury  has nominated Banbury’s Tiago and Alison’s fund as the benefiting good cause at its ‘Fantasy Fairytale’ bridal evening at The Gallery – Rye Hill Golf Club on Thursday 31st March 2011.

The Cutting Edge directors were moved by the story of four-year old Tiago Dos Santos and his mother Alison and their appeal.  Tiago, who lives in Banbury with his mother, has cerebral palsy.  The fund has been set up to raise funds for his treatment at London’s Bobath Centre, to help pay for additional physiotherapy, and other specialist equipment.   Tiago’s father Paulo, was killed in a road accident in 2006.

A percentage of the ticket price will be donated to the fund.  Included in the Bridal Fantasy Fairytale evening’s entertainment will be a raffle draw.  Prizes are being donated by the event sponsors.  The star prize is a set of TheO heated rollers worth around £200.  Other prizes include a £100 voucher from The Cutting Edge in Banbury and  50% venue discount donated by The Gallery, Rye Hill Golf Club.

The highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the winner of the Bridal Princess competition.  Entries are still being taken and forms are available from www.the-cuttingedge.co.uk.

Tickets are available from The Cutting Edge, Rotary Way and Henry’s of Banbury in the High Street.

Included in the evening’s entertainment will be hair and beauty demonstrations, and a fashion show with bridal wear from Katherine Allen and Henry’s of Banbury.  Close-up magician Richard Young, will be on-hand to perform his magic for the audience.

Fifteen local companies are co-sponsoring the event.  These include wedding photographer Fiona Baker, and the Balloon Lady. Cakes for All will be providing bridal cupcakes on the night.  The event will be compèred by Ken Norman of Chipping Norton’s Best Man Boot Camp, which provides speech writing and delivery training for wedding speeches.

Cutting Edge director Kirsty Pearce said, “We wanted to support a local charity at this event and when we heard about Tiago and Alison, they were the obvious choice.  Our event sponsors are generously donating raffle prizes so we’re looking forward to helping swell their fund.”

Tickets for the event are priced at £7.50 and include a Bucks Fizz reception and light buffet.  Each person attending the event will be presented with a free ‘Wedding Welcome Pack’ which includes a pair of Pilgrim earrings worth £10 per pair, donated by Lilly Maes Gift Boutique of Brackley.

The event’s sponsors include:

The Gallery, Rye Hill Golf Club

Fiona Baker Photography
Katherine Allen Bridal Wear
The Balloon Lady
Henrys of Banbury
Ken Norman: Best Man Boot Camp
Cakes for All
The Sweet Company
Banbury Wedding Cars
KNR Jewellery:
Richard Young Magic
Blueice Roadshow
Lilly Maes Gift Boutique: Brackley
Fresh FX Video Production

Original concept by WORD-right – copywriting and marketing

Email newsletters are an essential part of your marketing strategy.  They are low cost and help increase your company profile.  However, electronic newsletters and email marketing is subject to legislation and it’s important you understand this and adhere to it.

While you might be forgiven the occasional mistake, companies which persistently breach the law are at risk of being reported to the Information Commissioner.  The penalties are severe, with fines of up to £10,000 levied.

The WORD-right copywriting office received two emails this week which have both broken the rules.  They have prompted this blog offering a little advice to help you keep on the right side of the law.

Email ‘A’ was an unsolicited sales message which came from a company in Kent.  As it had been sent to our generic email address and we have a limited company, the sender had not breached the legislation.

However, the mistake he made was using an online email marketing service which strictly forbids the use of its system for unsolicited sales campaigns.  If reported, his account could be suspended.

If you use an email marketing system, it is important you read and understand the small print in your agreement.  Setting up your email system takes time and effort.  These companies take reports of spamming very seriously and they will act if they see you abusing the system.

Email ‘B’ was a newsletter I recently subscribed to.  However, the company’s whole approach turned out to be unprofessional.  Rather than using suitable software, this newsletter is created in Word and sent as an attachment.

There is an obvious security risk here – viruses can be transmitted via attachments in emails.  But worse still is this company’s practice of entering all their subscriber’s email addresses in the ‘To’ box.  This means I have access to hundreds of private email addresses which I could steal, spam, sell, or otherwise abuse!  Not only is this unprofessional, it is also a breach of the Data Protection act.

This newsletter also breached the email marketing legislation in other ways: there was no unsubscribe option and no contact details on the email.  Last week we sent this company a friendly email, gently suggesting how their email marketing could be improved.   Sadly  today, they’ve sent another newsletter – breaking all the same rules!  I have now emailed asking to be unsubscribed.  I only hope they act on this request – email addresses must be treated with care, and confidentiality is essential.

Email marketing legislation is slightly vague in the UK.  But you still have an obligation to adhere to it.  If you are unsure, it is in your interests to take advice on the subject, or commission a reputable company to manage your email marketing for you – a £10,000 fine won’t do your reputation or your bank balance any good!

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

Oxfordshire-based copywriter company WORD-right (www.word-right.co.uk), is hosting a half-day Press Release Writing Masterclass on April 6th 2011 at Bloxham Mill near Banbury.  The morning masterclass starts at 9.15am and ends at 12.30pm.

The interactive masterclass is designed to help small businesses learn how to write effective press releases.  The class will also cover the difference between traditional offline and online PR, and how to identify newsworthy stories about their business.

There are 10 places available for the masterclass.  Attendees will have the opportunity to write a press release under the guidance of their tutor, Joy McCarthy.  Each person will receive a printed information pack which covers all the course material delivered during the masterclass.

“Small business owners often don’t take advantage of PR because they are daunted by the thought of writing a press release,”  comments Joy McCarthy, WORD-right’s director and principal copywriter. “The masterclass will teach them all they need to identify their PR opportunities and how to create effective press releases.”

The PR masterclass is the first in a series of small business copywriting workshops.  Future masterclasses will include writing for websites and the role of copywriting in SEO (search engine optimisation).

The cost of the masterclass is £40 + VAT.  Places can be booked online at www.word-right.co.uk/copywriting-masterclass.html. Numbers are limited to 10 per masterclass.

A 25% ‘early bird’ discount is being offered for online bookings made before 28th February 2011.  Anyone booking online should use the promotion code: NUE110217173023 and click on the ‘recalculate’ button to activate the discount.

– ends –

Notes to Editors

WORD-right is a copywriting and marketing consultancy based in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.

The company, which is division of IDEAS-right Ltd, was founded in 2006.  It specialises in small business marketing, working for a range of companies in different industry sectors in the Oxfordshire area and further afield.

Joy McCarthy, WORD-right director is an experienced copywriting tutor and has worked with almost 100 student writers from all over the world.

For more information, please contact:

Joy McCarthy
Tel: 01608 642845
Mob: 07880 980095
Website: www.word-right.co.uk

Are you generous with your knowledge and experience, or do you keep it to yourself?  Would you be surprised to hear giving free advice could actually help you market your business and increase your sales?

This morning we attended a Sales Training Seminar hosted by Sarah Castle, MD of Think Big Training, at Bloxham Mill near Banbury.  Some 40 people took advantage of this free opportunity to learn how to improve their sales skills.  Sarah gave freely of her time, knowledge and experience, and asked nothing in return.  We were well looked after with coffee and a dazzling array of cakes and pastries, which added to the very positive experience.

Each and every one of the delegates came away informed, motivated, and keen to put Sarah’s ideas into practice.  And to reinforce the message, we were given ‘goody bags’, with information packs, branded pens and pads.  So how will Think Big Training benefit?  Many of the small business owners are probably not in the market for bespoke training programmes themselves, but who will they recommend to others who are?

It’s said the average person knows 200 others.  On that basis, Sarah Castle delivered a powerful, fun and punchy message to around 8,000 people.  That’s what I call marketing!

It’s something we practice extensively.  Over the past year, we’ve produced a series of audio copywriting seminars which are being downloaded by hundreds of people, completely free of charge.  If it helps them deliver a stronger message and improve their writing skills, that’s great.  Not everyone will succeed, and those are the ones who remember WORD-right when they need help with their copywriting.  And there’s no doubt the listeners recommend our services to others.

Both WORD-right and WEB-right use social media, and we’ve written an Introduction to Twitter, which we email to anyone who is interested in this marketing medium.  The file bears our company livery and helps deliver a powerful message about our services.

If you’d like to take advantage of our free audio copywriting seminars, or would like a guide to using Twitter, drop WORD-right an email and we’ll be delighted to send you the link … but you’ll have to supply your own coffee and cakes, I’m afraid!

So our recommendation is, the next time you’re thinking of ways to market your business, take five minutes to work out what you can give away for free.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

WORD-right logo

WORD-right - the Oxfordshire Copywriters

If you’re in the Oxfordshire area and haven’t booked your place at Bloxham Mill’s b2b club networking meeting, you’ll need to hurry or you’ll miss one of the area’s best networking events.

WEB-right logo

WEB-right Simplicity

WORD-right and WEB-right are the proud sponsors of this month’s event and it’s going to be an interesting and lively meeting.  Keynote speaker Mike Pagan, will provide forthright, practical and thought provoking ideas on ‘Making Business Simple’.

You can expect Mike to get straight to the heart of the matter!  His new book entitled ‘Faff – The Power of Doing Without Achieving – Making Busyness Profitable’ will be launched this month.

The meeting runs from 5.30pm – 7.30pm:

5.30pm  –  Networking / Arrival & Drinks

6.00pm –  Welcome & Introduction by Ray Avery, General Manager, Bloxham Mill

6.10pm – Sponsors’ Welcome,   Joy McCarthy, WORD-right

6.15pm – Guest Speaker Mike Pagan, “Stop Faffing About and Get On With It ”

6.45pm – Refreshments & Networking

Register now – the event is free and light refreshments are provided.  Email admin@bm-it.co.uk or call 01295 724545.

Instead of the usual ‘is there a doctor in the house’, the call was for a dentist at the first Oxfordshire and Berks ‘Tweet-up’, held last night (Monday 18 January) at Fallowfields Hotel, Kingston Bagpuize.  The event was the first large-scale business Twitter get-together to be held in the area and was attended by 50 local business people.

During supper, Newbury dentist and Twitter enthusiast Richard Charon, was called to the phone.  Karen-Louise Allen, one of the local radio Jack FM team who should have attended the event, had called to say she couldn’t make it.  She had accidentally swallowed a dental crown and was there a dentist in the house!  Karen-Louise wasn’t registered with a dentist and Richard’s Newbury practice was too far away.  However, a room full of business people skilled in networking, brought the power of Twitter to her rescue.  Members were asked for referrals for an Oxford dentist who would see Karen-Louise the next day.

Richard Charon comments, “People’s reaction to Karen’s mishap is typical of the Twitter community.  Everyone rallied round to help and in seconds we had the name of a possible Oxford dentist for Karen.  There was a lot of laughter and good humour, but that and helping other people is what Twitter is about.”

Twitter, the online social networking phenomenon, has a strong membership in Oxfordshire and surrounding areas.  The Tweet-up was the brainchild of Anthony Lloyd, owner of Fallowfields Hotel (http://www.fallowfields.com)   and Kevin O’Brien of Web Power (http://www.web-power.co.uk).  A dedicated online portal was created where Twitter

Fallowfields Dexter beef 'Twitter pie'

Fallowfields Dexter beef 'Twitter pie'

members could book their places.  With the viral nature of Twitter, news of the event spread quickly.  The meeting was held in the Fallowfields’ marquee and, after some informal networking, the guests sat down to enjoy supper, with a choice of three ‘Twitter Pies’ on the menu.

“I’m passionate about Twitter” said Anthony Lloyd, co-organiser of the Oxfordshire Tweet-up.  “This is the first Twitter get-together to be held in the county and it’s been a great success.  Not everyone who attended is a Twitter member, but I don’t think it will be long before they join.  It was good to see so many people who have only ever spoken on Twitter, greeting each other like old friends.  It is very positive for the business community.  Everyone is keen to meet up again and I think the Oxfordshire Tweet-up is set to become a regular event in the local business networking calendar.”

– ends –

Note to Editors

Fallowfields (http://www.fallowfields.com) is a country house hotel in Kingston Bagpuize with over 300 years of history. Once the home of the Begum Aga Khan, Fallowfields offers luxury accommodation set in 12 acres of grounds.

The hotel boasts its own kitchen garden which supplies the restaurant with pesticide-free home-grown fruit and vegetables.  The hotel’s farm is home to Dexter cattle, rare-breed pigs, chickens and ducks which provide much of the meat on the restaurant’s menu.

Richard Charon (http://www.newburysmilemakers.com) is the Dental Practice Principal of Richard Charon at Newbury Smilemakers.  He specialises in treating anxious and phobic people using Dental Sedation techniques.  Richard also trains dentists in Dental Sedation in both Britain and Ireland.

For more information, please contact:

Anthony Lloyd, Fallowfields Hotel
Tel: 01865 820416
Email: anthony@fallowfields.com

Joy McCarthy, WORD-right
Tel: 01608 642845
Email joy@word-right.co.uk

www.word-right.co.uk

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