Dr Brian's SmartaMarketing 2

Smarta Marketing Ideas for Smarta Marketers

Category: Public Relations

Top ways to slim down flabby copy

Shorter, punchier copy is more readable and more memorable than obese copy. You can test this in your own life. Why do we like top ten lists, for example? The claim is also supported by experimental data; such as Jakob Nielsen’s research. So how do you put your copy on a diet?

1. Zap filler text. Just get straight to the point and delete the run up. For example, most press releases contain this kind of waffle: “In order to demonstrate our commitment to cutting-edge technology, innovation and customer service…” It’s what the delete key was invented for.

2. Cut paragraphs before you cut sentences. It’s better to change the structure of your piece by deleting low priority content than it is to try to make all your points but with fewer sentences.

3. Don’t lock down the word count before you start. A fixed word count is a guarantee of maximum verbosity (as the old Infocom games used to say). If you commission 500 words from a writer, that’s what you’ll get. Better to say ‘up to 500 words’ or ‘between 350-500’ and make sure that the writer focuses on the message and the quality of the writing. Similarly, ‘lorem ipsum’ copy on websites gives designers way too much influence over the copy length. Better to get a writer involved from day one, perhaps by using wireframes.

4. Delete hype words, clichés, adjectives and adverbs. Accurately chosen perfect words make this sentence the most beautiful one ever written. Or not. All readers have an inner cynic that discounts any hype word they read so using hyped-up words has the opposite result to the one you wanted. D’oh! See Words to avoid for more. They just sit around watching TV and eating your food like unwanted house guests. They don’t even do the washing up.

5. Shorter sentences. Breaking down a long sentence into a series of short ones, sometimes even using the machine gun style to spit out a sequence of very short sentences, can make a paragraph much shorter. In other words, short sentences rule. Use readability tools to provide objective feedback on your sentences.

6. Use ‘you’. It’s fine to address your reader directly. It’s also okay to say ‘I’ or ‘we’ to describe the person or company who’s speaking. This gets you out of a world of pain when struggling to find the subject of a sentence and avoid the passive voice. It also leads to shorter, punchier copy.

7. Give instructions. ‘Don’t run with scissors’ is shorter than ‘surveys by leading analysts suggest that velocity and cutting implements don’t mix.’

8. Write with information. If a sentence doesn’t include a fact or make a strong, clear point, it’s a candidate for deletion.

9. Use a bigger font. Sounds daft, but it’s much harder to write lots of words if your screen fills up quicker.

Dr Brian Monger is Executive Director of MAANZ International and an internationally known consultant with over 45 years of experience assisting both large and small companies with their projects.  He is also a highly effective and experienced trainer and educator

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These articles are usually taken from notes from a MAANZ course.  If you are interested in obtaining the full set of notes (and a PowerPoint presentation) please contact us – info@marketing.org.au

Also check out other articles on http://smartamarketing.wordpress.com

MAANZ International website http://www.marketing.org.au

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The Benefits of Socially Responsible Branding

Adding Cause to Branding

The benefits of being perceived to be socially responsible are varied and many. Understandably brands want to be perceived as socially responsible. Being associated with a good cause is a quick way for a brand to be gain the tag of being seen as ‘socially responsible’. This shows the brand to be responsible and caring and these are indeed good qualities for a brand to have. While some brands are inspired by a genuine sense of social responsibility many brands look at the image of being socially responsible as helping in building brand stature. The conscious employment of resources by a brand to aid charitable causes in order to develop image, associations and identity benefits is called cause related branding.

There are 5 main reasons why brands associate with charitable causes other than from a socially responsible perspective:

Builds brand preference: Marketing sense states and some research studies confirm, that ceteris paribus, consumers would prefer buying a brand that is associated with a good cause than from other brands.

Justifies a premium: Consumers often do not mind paying a premium for a brand that is known to be generous to a well-known charity as consumers feel that the brand deserves the premium. The knowledge that a part of the money paid to a brand is going to a good cause adds to the positive emotional component of the brand.

Reduces negative connotations associated with the brand: Liquor and tobacco brands often associate themselves with causes as a means of negating a part of the disrepute associated with their industry.

Provides the brand with desirable values: Brands that are seen to possess a very commercial and greedy image may wish to develop a softer image by showing a softer nicer side by donating to charitable organizations.

Useful for raising money: Brands that plan to approach the money market for raising money from the public often show the warm side of their personality by publicly supporting charitable causes. Investors who are not doing extensive research on the brand may invest because they believe a brand with good intentions can be trusted.

As is obvious from the advantages mentioned above, cause related branding has a lot to offer brands and therefore this route is being used by many brands. There are several successful examples cause related branding working wonders for brands it must be understood that a poorly developed cause strategy will lead to no little or no benefits for the brand. The days when a brand could merely tie up with a well-known charity and earn brownie points are over and the intricacies involved in making cause related branding work are worthy of careful consideration.

In branding, adopting a strategic perspective is critical. In cause related branding it becomes even more critical as the process of establishing an association with a cause takes significant investment of time, effort and money. Reaping the benefits of the association takes time and delinking from a cause can have strong negative repercussions for a brand and the involvement of the highest echelons of management need to be involved in decisions involving cause related branding.

There are three levels of decisions that brands need to look at and the implications of each category of decisions is to be understood before planning for any kind of cause related branding:

Deciding the category: There are a wide range of categories of causes ranging from care of deprived children to restoration of dignity of seniors. Categories are wide and can encompass a wide range of sub categories. Within the cause category of care for senior citizens there are sub categories addressing issues such as care for abandoned elders, medical treatment of senior citizens, etc. It is important to choose the right kind of category and sub category as a prelude to deciding a relevant issue to back within this category.

Deciding the specific issue: Categories of causes consist of different issues. Issues are specific such as programmes to aid restoration of dignity of senior citizens that feel deprived of dignity following their old age. Focussing on specific issues is important for brands as it helps fine tune the values that flow from the association.

Deciding the specific institutions: Unless the brand is willing to create a trust that handles the responsibilities of the cause it will have to depend on institutions to run the operational aspects involved in the execution of cause related activities. Aligning with an institution that caters to a specific cause can provide a brand with strong associations however there are times when brands need to ensure that they are not overshadowed by charities that are stronger brands than their sponsors.

These are some of the aspects that need to be studied before a brand decides to associate with a charitable cause.

What is the relevance of the cause to the brand’s consumer segment?: Association with a charitable cause does not immediately mean that consumers will immediately hold the brand in high esteem. Consumers must find the cause relevant to their value system before the brand receives any approbation. For example: Not all consumers may be equally supportive of a cause that looks at providing food and shelter to immigrants/refugees. These consumers may be more supportive of causes that benefit their countrymen.

How different is it?: Many people are inured to causes and even associations with a good cause like Cancer Care may neither draw much attention to the brand or to the cause nor would the association be very memorable. Finding a cause that is relevant and yet different would help in enhancing the memorability of the brand and cause. For example: A trust that looks after veteran entertainers suffering from terminal diseases can be seen as a worthy cause to support as it appreciates people who once entertained and gave others happiness.

Can the cause be owned?: It is normally difficult to own a cause as this would require immense investment of resources. A niche cause like the one mentioned in the above example may not require huge investments and may not see many other brands supporting this cause. The task of guarding the cause associations may not be very tough nor may the cost of running such a trust be very high.

Will it hold enduring relevance with this segment?: Some causes are contextual. These causes appear to touch a sensitive chord with consumers and then suddenly seem to lose their appeal. Often charities in India catering to cyclone victims suddenly find their support waning in the wake of a fresh new tragedy in a different part of the country. Public sympathy often veers towards the more current tragedies.

How will the relationship be positioned?: The nature of the brand’s relationship with the cause can influence consumer perceptions of the brand. A brand that extends it relationship beyond the financial support to also provide investments of time and talent would most likely stand to gain greater credibility from the relationship than would a brand that only provides money. Brands that appear to only offer financial support may be seen as ‘forced’ or ‘insincere’ and this could in some cases prove counterproductive.

Controversial issues: Brands need to be careful while handling causes associated with controversial issues. For example: A ‘euthanasia’ support foundation campaigning for change in legislation towards euthanasia may be seen by some as a worthy cause but association with this cause may lead to the brand supporting it being embroiled in controversy at some stage of its association if public opinion suffers from the occasional mood swing. While some brands court controversy through short term associations with controversial causes this could be risky as well as counter productive as the issue could turn ugly and taint the brand or it could grow far bigger than the brand.

Cause related branding works best when it is driven by the core values of the brand. Like anything else that is forced, cause related branding could prove counterproductive if it is not a ‘natural’ facet of the brand. When it is not ‘natural’ to the brand then the cause related activities are de-prioritised and lose focus often with corresponding effect on the brand.

In an increasingly cynical world, the value of genuinely sensitive acts is extremely high. There are several cries for brands to show greater responsibility and to share a small part of their wealth with the less privileged. The current economic strife created by schizophrenic brands that show dissonance between their different actions has led to lower levels of consumer belief in brands. Cause related branding performed with genuine intent can help restore consumer trust and build brand equity

Like this short article?  Please comment.  And have a look at other articles  in our sister blog http://smartamarketing.wordpress and checkout the smartamarketing posts on SlideShare. (http://www.slideshare.net/bmonger)

George Orwell’s writing rules Good thoughts for Social Media

George Orwell suggested 5 golden rules for effective writing:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

Does the phrase “Low hanging fruit” mean something to a layman? Can’t it be better written as “non-performing employee”?Now, how many people recognize the words and the sentiments behind them?

2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

In the entire world, XYZ is selling like hot cakes and gathering a lot of revenues for the company”… Imagine if we write this as “XYZ is the company’s universal best-seller”. Many writers adopt the beating round the bush approach to increase word count or achieve the desired keyword density. This is a strict no-no as it insults the reader’s sensibilities.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Well, same as above (yea that’ a shorter one. No need for another example!)

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

“The man who was old was bitten by a cat”. While there’s no rocket science behind the logic, still this is an oft-disregarded adage. You can always replace the longer sentence with a shorter and effective “The cat bit the old man”

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

Keep your content easily accessible to the average Joe. Readers will simply block out the content if they come across a lot of technical jargons that they can’t comprehend


Maximising Your Media Moment

In an era of short media bites, how do you get your message across about a complex, detailed issue through TV in ten seconds?

Well, you need to work out your key message and deliver it flawlessly as a media friendly quotable quote.

Professional news crews will tell you about people who ring them after the interview and say “can you come back, I forgot to say this and that?”   Of course, the media are so time poor and deadline driven they never come back.

So you only have one opportunity to maximise your media moment.

How do you do this, especially for TV? Here are the Top 10 Tips:

1. Dress Well.

In the powerful visual medium of television you will be judged by your appearance. Clothing patterns and colours will contribute to the impact of your on camera interview. Avoid clothes with lots of designs or patterns. A dark jacket (blue, black, charcoal or navy) with a white shirt/blouse always looks good on camera. Take your cue from what TV news readers are wearing.

2. Warm Up Your Voice.

Tiger Woods wouldn’t go and play a championship round of golf without warming up. You, as a professional communicator and official spokesperson should never engage with the media without warming up your voice.

3. Speak With Increased Energy

Speak at a higher volume, range, tone and pitch than you would normally. Imagine having a conversation with someone and speaking at a slightly more animated level than you would normally.

4. Anchor Your Feet and Slow Deliberate Movements.

The more you move around the more your body language will distract from your message. Doing interviews standing, even radio interviews, will change your whole physiology and give your more energy and authority. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and firmly anchored to the ground. It is hard to sound credible standing on one foot.

TIP: Watch your interviews with the sound off to get a better idea of what your body language is doing in the interview.

5. Keep Calm.

Reporters are probably not your friends. Assertive, aggressive, even angry reporters will fire off questions at you quickly, like bullets spitting from a machine gun. Their speech patterns will be intense and fast. Do not get drawn into mirroring and matching these patterns. In these situations, take a breath and speak more slowly than the interviewer.

6. Memorise Your Three Key Points.

You must be able to deliver these flawlessly without reading notes. Firstly, write them down. Writing things down helps fix them in the mind and seeing them written down also helps. Then compose a visual picture of the actual words. Visually place them in the top left part of your brain. When remembering these points, look to the top left hand part of the brain and they will come to you instantly like magic.

In technical terms, brain experts have shown the left-side of the prefrontal cortex (just behind the forehead) experiences increased blood flow as new information enters our episodic memory. In fact, the brain’s thesaurus is dispersed in many separate parts of the left cerebral hemisphere

7. Never Say No Comment.

Journalists will believe ‘where there is smoke there is fire’. Say no comment, but back this up with a valid reason.

8. Drink Plenty Of Water.

Keep hydrated and avoid caffeine and milk prior to an interview. Milk gums up your saliva glands leading to a dry mouth. This manifests itself in the common nervous habit of licking dry lips.

9. Get In The Moment.

Elite athletes talk about and practice getting in the zone to achieve peak performance. You need to do the same.

Try this: Relax, close your eyes and take three deep breaths, focussing on clearing your mind. Then visualise a moment in the past where you felt very motivated and very confident. Capture this moment in your mind and anchor those feelings. Place this mental picture inside your right hand and clench making a fist. Cover this fist with your left hand. Repeat this process until you can instantly put yourself into a state of peak performance.

10. Review, Evaluate and Improve.

After each media interviews always review:

What worked well?

What could be improved?

What will I work on for next time?



The Process of Persuasion

Other kinds of writing may have a variety of purposes, but copywriting in Promotion (Advertising; Sales Promotion Marketing Public Relations) has one main aim -persuasion.  There is a logical order to persuasive advertising that carries the audience to the point of favourable action.  Various authorities on the art of persuasion have advanced numerous formulas for this process, but they are all fundamentally variations on a relatively simple theory-AIDA.  The AIDA theory suggests that in order to persuade, an advertisement must first attract attention, then create interest, next stimulate desire, and finally get action.  There has been some criticism of the AIDA principle on the grounds that it is too academic and assumes that the reader of advertisements is a rational man.  Undoubtedly, the sophisticated copywriter recognises that writing advertisements is not always so simple; still, this process is basic to the art of persuasion.  Only after learning it can the copywriter go beyond it.


If we are going to persuade the reader  to  buy  our  product, we must attract his or her attention.  The best of advertisements are useless if nobody notices them.  There are two general types of attention-getting devices.  One includes external factors over which the copywriter has little or no control and the other involves internal factors which are to a large degree directly under his control.

The external factors include such things as the medium in which the advertisement appears and the size and position of the advertisement.  For example, the readers of some magazines regard advertising as editorial matter.  A  Voguereader, for example, is interested in the fashions the various advertisers are showing.  When advertising is closely related to editorial content, considerable attention is likely to be paid to the advertisements.  On the other hand, in general editorial magazines, in which there is little relation between the advertisements and the editorial content, advertisements elicit little spontaneous interest from readers and there is need for stronger attention-getting devices.

Size is another external factor influencing attention.  Obviously, the larger the advertisement, the more likely the reader will be to notice it.  Likewise, position affects attention.  An advertisement appearing on the fourth (back) cover of a magazine will attract greater attention than that same advertisement appearing in an run of press position.

The copywriter himself has two principal attention-getting devices, the headline and the illustration.  The effectiveness of either is to some degree dictated by the layout which can emphasise either or both to gain maximum attention.

A word of caution must be given about attention-getting devices.  Attention is simply a means of attracting readers to read the whole advertisement.  Therefore, these devices should be related to the rest of the advertisements. The reader whose attention is attracted by a headline, only to find that it has little or no relation to the rest of the advertisement, is apt to be resentful.  Using an illustration of a scantily clad girl in an advertisement for office furniture will disappoint the reader and may make him lose interest in the copy.

Because few persons read advertisements in their entirety,  the attention-getting devices  should try to include as many of the other AIDA factors as possible.  If a headline, in addition to gaining attention, can also promise some benefit to the consumer and identify the advertiser, it is likely that more people seeing the advertisement will get the message.  In addition, the illustration can be used to call attention to the product and the package.


Ideally, the attention-getting devices should lead the reader to the body copy, and hold his interest.  There is no better way  of stimulating interest than by appealing to the reader’s self-interest. All too often, the copywriter writes in terms of   the advertiser instead of the consumer.  The approach needed is what is referred to as the “you” attitude.  The consumer is not interested in how wonderful the company is; he wants to know what the product will do for him.


Each step in the persuasion process is important, but none is so important that it can stand alone.  Having stimulated interest, the advertisement’s next task is to stimulate  the reader’s desire for the product.  The easiest way to stimulate desire is to show that the product will benefit the reader, show that he will not be as well off without it, and prove it.  Again, the emphasis should be on consumer self-interest.  Claims may be met with scepticism, so it is necessary to convince the reader that the advertisement’s claims are valid.  Not only should they be substantiated, but they must be believable.


No advertisement can be complete unless it “asks for the order” orasks the reader to take the required objective action.  This may be stated directly: “Try it soon and see,” or “Get some soon.   In some cases the urge to action is implied in the copy without being explicitly stated.

Tips Effective Marketing Communication

Some guidelines for effective, persuasive communication.

  • Approach everything from the viewpoint of the audience’s interest. What is on its mind? What is in it for each person?
  • Make the subject matter part of the atmosphere in which audience members live—what they talk about, what they hear from others. That means tailoring the message to their channels of communication.
  • Communicate with people, not at them. Communication that approaches the audience as a target makes people put up defenses against it.
  • Localize—get the message conveyed as close to the individual’s own setting as possible.
  • Use a number of communication channels, not just one or two. The impact is far greater when a message reaches people in a number of different forms.
  • Maintain consistency so that the basic content is the same regardless of audience or context. Then tailor that content to the specific audience as much as possible.
  • Don’t propagandise, but be sure you make your point. Drawing conclusions in the information itself is more effective than letting the audience draw its own conclusions.
  • Maintain credibility—which is essential for all these points to be effective.

Adoption and Diffusion in Marketing Communication

The diffusion theory was developed in the 1930s and expanded on by Professor Everett Rogers of Stanford University. It holds that there are five steps in the process of acquiring new ideas:

Awareness—the person discovers the idea or product.

Interest—the person tries to get more information.

Trial—the person tries the idea on others or samples the product.

Evaluation—the person decides whether the idea works for his or her own self-interest.

Adoption—the person incorporates the idea into his or her opinion or begins to use the product.

In this model, the marcomms writer is most influential at the awareness and interest stages of the process. People often become aware of a product, service, or idea through traditional mass outlets such as newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. Indeed, the primary purpose of advertising in the mass media is to create awareness, the first step in moving people toward the purchase of a product or sup-port of an idea.

At the interest stage, people seek more detailed information from such sources as pamphlets, brochures, direct mail, videotape presentations, meetings, and symposia. That is why initial publicity to create awareness often includes an 800 number or an address that people can use to request more information.

Family, peers and associates become influential in the trial and evaluation stages of the adoption model. Mass media, at this point, serves primarily to reinforce messages and predispositions.

It is important to realise that a person does not necessarily go through all five stages of adoption with any given idea or product.. A number of factors affect the adoption process. There are at least five.

Relative advantage—is the idea better than the one it replaces?

Compatibility  is the idea consistent with the person’s existing values and needs?

Complexity     is the innovation difficult to understand and use?

Trialability       can the innovation be used on a trial basis?

Observability—are the results of the innovation visible to others?

You should be aware of these factors and try to overcome as many of them as possible. Repeating a message in various ways, reducing its complexity, taking competing messages into account, and structuring the message to the needs of the audience are ways to do this.

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