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Posts Tagged ‘copywriting’

(Historians agree: when the Roman Legion switched from sandals to Chuck Taylors, it spelled the end of the Empire.)

Halloween is about the only holiday(?) that truly excites me, where I put forth what might be construed as an EFFORT.  Actually, Trick or Treat preps actually DO require some work, as seen here:

 

But it’s worth it when you see the awe in some little 4-year-old Batman’s eyes.  Speaking of which, I wonder what this year’s costume trend will be? I am guessing Wonder Woman.

Anyway, what’s happening here at the Exchange?

And, speaking of blogging, here are the latest future classics in:

Thanks for tuning in. If you need copywriting that chills and thrills, but never ills, contact livelyexchange (at) gmail (dot) com. Now scram – I have three -year-old candy to thaw out!

 

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chas no 1

Watch your step for giant Palmetto bugs and random typewriters

Today we learned that Travel + Leisure magazine has once again named Charleston SC the America’s No. 1 city, and No. 2 in the world. “Readers were asked to rate cities they had visited on sights/landmarks, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, shopping and value.”

Of course, that’s a survey of people who are just passing through. What’s it like for those who live here and try to make a living in the copywriting trade? I am referring specifically to ME.

Humble Copywriting Origins

I hit town in 2006, knowing precisely nobody. I fanned out in every direction, burning up my 28K dialup internet (!) carpet-bombing every web design, marketing, advertising and video production agency from here to hell-and-gone. (Hell-and-gone includes Asheville, Raleigh, Charlotte, Greenville, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Hilton Head, Savannah, and Augusta. Mostly due to “good timing” I got a few bites, a few initial gigs, and things slowly (SLOWLY) took root.

Mixed success, as you can imagine. I can say that the agency relationships I have made here in Charleston, including great names such as Colophon New Media and Metatation have endured.

Charleston Copywriting Must-haves

I have done my share of writing for two big Charleston staples, real estate and travel & tourism. Both have been very good to me. Check out my thoughts on local Real Estate writing here. And some fun travel and tourism stuff here. (Scroll down to Charleston Travel/Tourism Blog)

Now, there’s also Technical Writing.  The type of writing where (in Charleston anyway)  “tab A into slot B equals cruise missile.”  I can do it, I even completed some tech writing coursework at Trident Tech, but I guess I have never pursued it aggressively enough.

I ended up doing quite a bit of technical writing at Philips, though. That wasn’t the plan; it just turned out that way. Ah, Philips Consumer Lifestyle, the one that quite literally got away. (They closed the office and it got away!) But before it did, one of my pieces for them won a Bronze Addy award, so there’s that.

Ten years later, how’s it going? Well, it’s definitely going. Social is bigger than ever, and a big part of my mix. I went and earned a Social Marketing Certification from Hootsuite. This has been pretty helpful in framing the conversation when discussing a client’s digital marketing options.

Charleston Copywriting Outlook: 2017

Meanwhile, businesses are shaking off the cobwebs, and celebrating the new economic optimism that seems to be going around. Meaning, lots of web refreshes going on, from a six-page interior designer website, to a 30-page dentist’s site to a FIFTY page digital marketing agency website! (2017: the year the cobbler’s kids get shoes!!) Now, 2017 is setting no records, but it sure beats the windswept desert that was 2016!!

So that’s the copywriting life in America’s Number One city. As the Bedouins say, the dogs bark and the caravan moves on. If you’d like to be part of this rich copywriting pageant, contact me at  LivelyExchange (at) gmail (dot) com!

Photo: Charleston Post and Courier

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handmaid

Original 80s cover art, for the purists!

Allow me, Dystopian Literature Fan Number One, to be officially the last person on the web to discuss The Handmaid’s Tale.

First of all, I’m happy to see that 7 episodes in, people have finally stopped screaming how TIMELY it is. Written in the mid-80s, it was a response to the way Reagan installed a right-wing Christian dictatorship, took away women’s rights and shipped black people off to camps. If you don’t remember that happening then, that’s because it didn’t. But, TIMELY!!!

Anyway, the first 5 eps, I was riveted, watching the book come to life after reading it maybe 10 times. (Let us not speak of the 1990 theatrical release – as much as I love the late Natasha Richardson!)

handmaid 2

“So…see you at the Ceremony later?”

The last couple of eps, which have veered almost completely from the novel, I fear I am losing my buzz a bit – even though it is very well done. And I wonder, is this what it is like for those unhappy Game of Thrones book nerds?

I give them credit for trying to expand the story, even if the results are mixed. Seeing the breakdown and overthrow of the US? Excellent. RiotGrrl Ofglen as a symbol of resistance? Very good. The revelation about Offred’s husband? Maybe. Sympathizing with Serena Joy about how the revolution disappointed her? No. And the entire Mexican Ambassador thing? No me gusta!

I see that next week will bring to life just about the last remaining set piece of the novel, other than the ending. And now word comes that the series has been renewed for a second season. For the life of me, I can’t imagine what an episode 19 or 20 will look like. Despite all of this, it’s still appointment TV, and I am enjoying the ride for now. As for Big Splashy Hulu Adaptations, it’s much better than 11/22/63 was.  What do YOU think?

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pipeline pic

Remember kids: crack is wack, so keep those shirt tails tucked in while crouching under the sink!

Spring is here! Back home in Cincinnati, they are waiting for the wheels to come off of the Reds’ promising first-place start (it’s coming, friends. It always does.)

Meanwhile in Charleston it’s heating up, both in terms of 90-degree temperatures and the gigs flowing through the ol’ copywriting pipeline.   So, grab your hip waders – I’m goin’ in!

  • Blogging for a Tax Attorney in Columbia SC
  • Writing a website for a CPR training provider in Charleston SC
  • Writing a website for a CNC machine shop client in South Carolina
  • Writing a press release for an industrial client in Europe
  • Quoting a blogging and social media program for a fiberglass manufacturer in the Midwest

And some old perennials; some that won’t end, others that won’t start!

  • Writing brochures and trifolds for a consumer electronics firm in Upstate New York
  • Blogging and social media management for a global leader in floral chemicals
  • Blogging for an Extended Stay motel chain in the Southeast
  • Writing a website for a dry cleaner in South Carolina
  • Writing a website for a real estate attorney in South Carolina
  • Writing a website for a pressure washing service in South Carolina

Hope your spring is off to a great start, just like my Redlegs, and it stays that way, unlike my Redlegs!

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You may not have heard of this little mom 'n' pop operation

As a companion piece to our last entry, here is a website I wrote* for Johnston Brothers Custom Imprinted Gun Cloths and Bags, a South Carolina maker of… wait, I knew it a minute ago!

This was a writing gig that was probably more fun than it should have been. First of all, it was 4 hours start to finish – including the client interview – and I received payment in under a week. What’s not to love?

Secondly, I love the client’s entrepreneurial spirit. I am always in awe of that kind of carve-a-niche energy some clients have – because I sometimes (ahem!) find it lacking in myself!  Here is a guy who saw that 90% of the little gun shops in the US do little to no advertising or marketing. They basically count on the fact that they are the only shop in the neighborhood.  So this client makes gun cloths, which every serious shooter must have and use, and personalizes them with the name of the shop and contact info.  That’s about all I can reveal, but the benefits should be obvious.

Anyway, you hear a lot of doom and gloom about small businesses. In order to survive, small business has to get creative. This is exactly the kind of quick, inexpensive yet good-looking website that can do the trick. It’s exciting for me to be involved in this kind of solution. Take that, commies!

*hat-tip to Charleston SC designer Studio 7 Design, and programmer Metatation. Thanks for the gig, fellers!

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I wrote a print ad appearing in Soldier of Fortune in either June or July.  Won’t my artsy liberal friends in Charleston be thrilled!

Sort of like the Wild West replica ads, brochures and web content I wrote way back (and for the same client) I had to get inside the mind of someone looking to purchase a badass-looking piece like this. Of thinking like a Navy SEAL when in realtity you’ll probably use it to shoot possums by your trash cans.

All I had to go on was the word “Carbine,” which is like a rifle only shorter and less powerful.  Why would you want this and not the other? When you’re closer to the enemy, on the move, need to be ready in an instant to fire. Who might use a carbine? Special forces. And so it went.  I managed to paint the picture of kicking in the door and capping a room full of terrorists, prefaced with the clever “You may never have to…”

Anyway, here it is. BTW, my original headline was SPECIAL FORCES! The client changed it to HOMELAND SECURITY, which is also good. The callback at the end makes no sense now, but who cares? If you’re the guy this ad is intended for, you’re just drooling over the picture of the gun anyway! BLAM!

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ImageMatrix Halloween Party, City View Tavern, Cincinnati 1989

For those of you who aren’t Cincinnati Krauts, that means “Beer please!” As I was going to press last time (or whatever) I learned that the long-gestating Kroger Supermarkets beer web page I had written had gone live.

This one was fun. Working with a Cincinnati web marketing firm that I can’t name, I had to dig in to all kinds of beer ephemera to write web copy about beer trivia, food pairings, beer history in America and so on.

As I said previously, I have done a bunch of beer writing for Anheuser Busch, Miller Coors and Kroger – mostly for video. And of course, being some internal merchandising or training video, I almost never get to see the final product. So it’s really fun to see it all come to life. Especially the timeline of Beer in America. So check it out!

And now, I leave you with the words of Norm from Cheers: “Women! Can’t live with ’em, pass me the beer nuts!”

*     *     *     *

And if YOU can’t live without compelling copy for web, print, social media or video, Please contact LivelyExchange (at) gmail.com!

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It’s a fairly common tactic in advertising: inventing a fake disease or syndrome that only your product or service can relieve.  Goodwill did it recently with TMSS, or Too Much Stuff Syndrome.

And now, Philips joins the fake disease game with DBA, or Dead Battery Anxiety.  I believe the local creative director came up with this idea. I like it because it could almost be a real thing. People living in fear that the batteries on their cell phone or MP3 will die at the most inopportune time – haven’t we all been there?

So we conjured up this fake foundation to promote awareness, and started writing various case studies and video vignettes to illustrate the heartbreak of DBA. I did several of the pieces here, an agency did several more, and there are several yet to be produced. In addition to the copywriting and script blocking, I also got to help direct the casting session, and I even did some voiceover work. This took me ALL the way back to the corporate video days!

Anyway, check it out. And if you’re wondering which pieces are mine, the answer is simple: whichever ones you like!

Contact livelyexchange (at) gmail.com!

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Finally got the new laptop today. The old one, a Gateway I got in December of ’04, was really showing its age in terms of speed and a weird, green vertical raster line that I KNEW was bad news. I did some research and got a good deal on an HP from OfficeMax.

And here’s the thing about OfficeMax: rather than THANK you for spending $700, they make you feel like CRAP for not spending $750 to get the warranty! “Hey, man…if you drop it on the way out to the car, or get hit by a truck, don’t think you can bring it back!”  Yeah, I’m sure that when I am pinned under a truck, my laptop would be my chief concern!

You suck, OfficeMax! Great price, though!

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The clamor was so strong you could almost actually hear it! “WTF, Mike?” my Legion of Fan exclaimed. “Where’s the update of old copywriting projects you promised instead of writing something fresh?”

Institutional Architecture print and web gig: This is the copywriting project that I have been working on almost since I learned to write my own name. The print and web materials have been long completed. Unfortunately, final payment has been long awaited. Someday, when the check clears, I will post a link. I promise it will not be worth the wait!

The Biotech website: Call Scooby and the gang, because I smell a mystery! I was the writing subcontractor on this one, and the contractor won’t reply to my emails. The writing is long done, and they gave every indication of being happy with my work. Checks have long been cashed (nice ones, too!) But still no website. No Scooby Snacks, either. If you’re looking for a suspect, I suggest Mr. McGreevey, the creepy caretaker of the abandoned amusement park.

Corporate disaster planning and data back up articles: Two 1500-word business journal articles for use in Ohio and Florida. These are basically the same, but the first 300 words or so highlight local disasters that impacted area business – Hurricane Charley in Florida and that Day of Wind Ohio suffered after Hurricane Ike. I finished the articles back in April, I think, and then waited.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I got an interesting request: cut the Ohio article to 750 words, and the Florida article to 4 PARAGRAPHS.  Tackling the 750-word piece first, I was not hopeful but I began to chip away – 1450, 1315, 1170, 980, and so on. I finally got to 750, and dang if it weren’t a tight, coherent piece. There’s a lesson here about self editing. I don’t know what it is, but it’s there.  After that, the 4 paragraph piece was a breeze. I believe that one is going to become an email blast or something, leading potential clients to their website. Speaking of which…

The client (a data backup and recovery business) has posted the original, 1500-word articles as sort-of white papers on their site. Take a look, but don’t ask me why they posted them as Word files complete with my header and footer, word count, “draft 2,” and other behind-the-curtain awesomeness.  Florida articleOhio article.

Well, it’s Friday, muchachos. Here in flavor country, that means Nacho Nite! So if you’ll excuse me, I have to go brown the meat.*

* that’s what she said.

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