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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

wet cat final

“Charleston in the summertime: Like breathing through a wet cat!”

How was your Charleston copywriting summer? Hot and sticky like mine? I’m thinking this Friday before Labor Day might be the most humid day of the year. As I often say, “Copywriting is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration – especially in Charleston!”

So what’s happening here at the Exchange?

Seems like a lot of existing client maintenance lately, and that’s just fine. But there’s always room for more at this party, so come on along! For web, print, video and social media copy and content, contact livelyexchange (at) gmail (dot) com!

Photo credits: Fine Art America (bridge), BuyCostumes.com (mask), Dreamz Time (cat)

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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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take my card2As a Freelance Copywriter Charleston SC, packing SEO keywords into sentences like this one, I have developed a bit of a bunker mentality. I work out of the spare bedroom in stately Lively Manor, and don’t get much face to face human interaction. You’d think I would be all over a networking opportunity, but…

What I don’t know about networking could fill a book – a book about networking very poorly. Sure, it would have a clever title like “Network Outage,” but it would go downhill pretty quickly from there.

So my buddy Nicolo, who is actually NOT named after a 16th century Italian philosopher, dragged me to a networking event in downtown Charleston. (Be sure to check “dragged here” on the survey form.)

How’d it go? Well, it went, and not badly. I guess maybe I have actually learned a thing or two about networking in my decade-long rise to somewhere in the middle of the Charleston copywriter pack. So, here we go.

  • For me, a big hurdle is forcing myself to interact. So I have a rule: if we make eye contact, I have to stop and chat.
  • Next, get the business card swap out of the way ASAP. You never know when you or the other guy are going to get interrupted or swept away.
  • Then, just get down to it! Make your elevator pitch, listen to his, ask a few questions, and follow the conversation in whatever PRODUCTIVE direction it leads.
  • Which means also recognizing when the conversation is going nowhere, and moving on as soon and as politely as possible. Some people will simply not further your quest (though, I admit, you can never really know for sure).
  • Finally, SOMEBODY has to end the conversation. It might as well be you, and the other guy will actually appreciate you taking the bullet.

And that, sports fans, is Smooth Jimmy Apollo’s Lock of the Week!TM

lock

“That’s a really big lock!”

So go forth and network, young Padawan, as painful as it may be. At least in Charleston, you’ll get some awesome hors d’oeurves!

Note: if you have gleaned that networking is not my favorite thing, please contact me at LivelyExchange (at) gmail (dot) com. We’ll meet in a bar, along with a few dozen strangers, and discuss it!

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There’s an economic school of thought that says in “times like these” freelancers, contract workers, consultants, call them what you will, should be doing OK. Suppose your company has a need for some service. When times are good, your company might go ahead and put someone on staff to take care of that need. Your company then assumes the financial expense of training that person, providing benefits, buying them a computer, printing their stupid little business cards, and so on.

When times aren’t so good, it’s a different story. Assume the need is still there. In a downturn, your company is more likely to contract someone to fill that need. No benefits, no computer, no stupid little business cards, etc.

Also, what if the provider isn’t doing such a great job? In the full-time staff example, the company feels much more pressure to “make good” on their investment in staff. They have to weigh the cost of retention vs. starting the whole process over again. With a contractor, they can just pull the plug.

So that’s the basic economics, all things being equal. But are things ever equal? Things like IT consulting, call center operations, cable installation…these things are specialized skills. Correction…these are specialized skills and people recognize them as such. Copywriting? Not so much.

When times are bad, people mistakenly cut back on promotion and marketing, precisely when they should be marketing and advertising more than ever. At these times, it’s hard to convince them that:

  • They should be communicating value to their prospective clients, through direct mail, revamping their website, blogging, etc., and
  • They need a professional copywriter to do that. Someone who can help find their value and state it in ways that entice the buying public and search engines alike.

I’d like to hear some ideas on convincing potential clients of the importance of A, B or both! Help a brother out…I’ve got some marketing to do!

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Whether it’s on the web, in print or on video, it often seems that the point of marketing communications is to leverage that 2% difference between a client’s product and his competitor’s, so that your client can wring out an extra 1% of market share. (I’ll pause as you try to wrap your mind around my English-major’s grasp of statistics.)

But what if there’s no difference? No patented process, no unique carbon micro-fibers, no bitchin’ flame decals on the side. What if the competition is putting out the exact same product? Not possible, you say?

Photo by R Middlestetter

Welcome to the world of Old West replica guns; replica Colt .45’s, replica Winchester ’73 rifles, and so on. Now, there are several companies producing these replica guns that, by definition, are exactly alike. So how do you market them? And what if your writer (me) has never held a gun in his life?

The answer, as always, is research. Who is your audience? It turns out, there is this entire subculture of dudes who dress up like cowboys on the weekends and have shootin’ matches. And, yes, their wives dress up as saloon girls. These guys are committed shooters and old west enthusiasts. So, it makes sense that they’re looking for a gun that’s not only well made, but also authentic. Second, just as important as the gun is the entire frontier culture. And here is where I planted the flag. I was determined to sell the romance of the Old West better than anybody else.

Of course, I didn’t do it alone. The executive producer and sales rep were both big-time gun freaks. Their technical knowledge was vital, and allowed me to concentrate of spinning the Legend of the Old West. And the graphics are really evocative. Anyway, take a look here, * and give me your thoughts.

*Well, shoot! (hey, good one!) They discontinued the line! You’ll have to make do with a brochure I wrote for them it’s on p.36 of my Print Samples.

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