Why get pedantic about “incorrect” English?

poor preposition choiceAs copywriters, it’s our prerogative to pick holes in language use, often overly so. Ranting about an insignificant grammar rule, fuming at unoriginal adjectives, these are the things that we could go to war over. The problem is, many of these issues don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. I saw the sign to the left at St Pancras a few days ago and momentarily scoffed – what, as opposed to the lift without heavy luggage? Rue this careless copywriter, leaving room for ambiguity, right? Actually, no, more rue me – wasting my time deriding this kind of thing. Tens of thousands of people see this every day and I very much doubt a single person has been confused by this sign. Continue reading

Bare-faced Psychological Pricing Shenanigans That Don’t Bother Me

psychological pricingThere’s a convenience shop near me that sells a two litre bottle of milk for £1.69, where they cheat me out of a penny every time I go there. And I love them for it. It’s almost twice the price of our nearest supermarket, but also almost twice as close. With the extra five minutes to get to Morrisons saving me 70p, the equivalent of a £8.40 an hour reimbursement, I’m fairly happy to use the closer store, and I’m just happy to know that they will shamelessly stop short of full committal to the psychological pricing lie. Continue reading

Bikes, Downs, and facing challenges with the wrong resources

copywriting resourcesShame on me, I have not been updating this blog much recently. In part because there’s so much great stuff been said about content writing and copywriting that there’s not much I feel the need to contribute (hording it all to myself). So when I do come up with an idea worth punting up here, it’s got to be suitably abstract. And one did occur to me, just this weekend, with the tale of my bicycle acquisition seeming to form an ideal analogy for the need to employ the right resources in whatever work we do. Continue reading

Why writing in the second person is so motivating

writing second person youYou need to read this. You deserve better. You won’t believe what happens in this video clip. You’ve heard it all before – and that’s because it works. Writing copy in the second-person engages the reader. It makes your connection personal. And it’s been said a thousand times in a thousand copywriting tips. But now a research study is claiming that it doesn’t just help customers to engage with a piece of text…it helps people to engage with themselves. Continue reading

Disappearing down the grammar hole

english grammar ebookEager readers of Copywrite Now may be wondering where I’ve been lately. Run out of adverts to analyse and copy to ponder over? Kicking back on a beach somewhere far afield? Not exactly. About a year ago I started work on a brief English grammar guide for foreign students, planned to be some 14 pages or so long. In the past month or two I knuckled down to finally finishing it, at about ten times that initial length. Such is the nature of the ever-evolving beast that is English grammar. On top of that, my freelancing efforts have been channelled increasingly into the full-time realm, as I’ve taken up a mobile app project that’s quickly becoming a serious business. But that’s a story for another day.  Continue reading

What makes grammar boring?

what makes grammar boringOne of my earliest memories of being aware of the concept of grammar is an ill-fated English lesson in secondary school, where my teacher opened the class by saying “Now I’m sorry, but we have to cover some grammar today.” Having had the subject introduced like that, it felt perfectly natural to oblige him with a loud groan of disappointment, inspiring a few cheap chuckles from around the class. He quickly countered, though, “Fine, Phil, if it’s so boring then how about you tell the class what a preposition is.”

No one had ever taught me what a preposition was, so of course I looked like a fool for mocking the noble virtues of a grammar class. To this day I feel I was unjustly chastised; sure, I didn’t know what a preposition was, but to be honest I wasn’t too sure what grammar was either. I had groaned because the way he’d brought it up made it sound like it warranted a groan. And that’s a fundamental problem in the way we understand grammar. It’s presented as a dull set of tools, so we grow up believing it’s boring. Continue reading

How to use Twitter to build relationships

social media strategyIt took me a long time to get using Twitter for business. At times it could feel like a chore; follow new people to get new followers, scour the internet for something useful to share, give people a nod every time they interact with you. All in the course of getting an ever-increasing rate of followers and, joy, the ability to direct a fraction of those followers to your material. Then when you’ve got enough followers, sit back and spam them, watching your numbers continue to grow. This is not optimum use of Twitter, though. It has one major, very special function, that takes as much time as anywhere else, and has the potential to reap the same rewards. It’s all about building relationships. Continue reading

The Small Food Company: the healthiest (most delicious) food on Trafalgar St

small food company

Having recently helped with the copy for The Small Food Company’s website (full disclosure), I was delighted when they told me they’d opened a cafe just around the corner from me. So I’d like to take this space to recommend their services to anyone in the Brighton area, and beyond. Brilliantly situated just by the station, on Trafalgar Street, this local business has popped up from nowhere to offer fast, healthy food at very modest prices. And, realistically, what more could you possible want. Continue reading

A short list of obscure words

obscure wordsThere comes a time in every blog’s career when it seems only prudent to populate it with lists of obscure or interesting words. Actually, this came about because I wanted to put something different on Twitter for the month of December – an advent of vocabulary instead of self-indulgent links. The result, my days of Christmas – a list of some of my favourite obscure words. Some of these are less common than others – some simply sound nice to say. They all come with examples, so you can use them wisely. Continue reading

Моя любимая реклама – exploring an old ad

ferroro rocher russianFor something a little different, I’ve decided to write a short advert analysis in Russian rather than English. Because let’s face it, that’s the next logical step for a blog about copywriting and advertising. So here’s my account of a much loved childhood advert. Fear not, there’s a translation below. And, of course, the actual advert. Continue reading