Monday, May 21, 2012

So you're starting out as copywriter! Few tips that will help you!


If you are starting out fresh start on a SPEC portfolio. Take the best ads or do a little out-of- the -box thinking. Think different. Change your outlook. Turn your ideas upside down. Break a few rules. Squeeze, twist, and stretch the idea upside down when thinking of the concept and soon you’ll get into the groove of delivering the right concept for each of your clients.

There might be changes mostly minor or major. Either ways if you have done your job well then you will want to go that extra-mile. That’s the reason you must research the product, the competition and get details from the client before you start. The brief should be very clear. You take the step to get details or you will end up re-writing over and over! Though believe me all of us do that quite often!
Clients by their nature are very protective about their business and their product. Some clients interfere with everything sometimes giving you the headline or suggesting a line be removed which you know would collapse the copy. '

There are copywriters who do not let a single word be changed; either they have reached the level that they can do this with confidence or then often an egoistic nature comes in the way. a balance is ideal, Stick to what you have written but adjust to certain changes. Anyways, it takes all kinds of people to make Copywriters and CLIENTS!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

How to write the Question Headline?


Question headlines can get directly to the point with an apt question and the subhead/body copy can answer the question asked in the headline. The question should pique the curiosity of the reader and they should desire to find the answer to the problem.

He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.

The ‘Question often known as the How To headline, catches attention easily when you put across what is the ‘discomfort’ the reader is facing! There you have created the most read headline.


        E.g.s
  1. How do I save time getting all the dirt out of collars?
  2. How do I make food yummy for my kids?

A subhead could be:
  1. Xyz cuts dirt with dirt magnets Yet won’t fray your collars and clothes
  2.  Just add our Kidz favourite taste maker and watch them go - Mummy it’s Yumeee

The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge. -Thomas Berger

Tips for writing the Question Headline::
  • Be as close to the problem as possible
  • To ensure the consumer does not lose interest you could have a subhead in a smaller font size and answer the Question.

Sometimes the answer follows in the copy. For this the Question headline must act like a magnet that pulls you to read the copy
Don't believe that people don't read COPY. They do when it is of interest to them. They do not‘by-heart' them, but remember the solution or the gist of what the ad is trying to convince them about. 

So go for the Question headline without fear. I look forward to your questionsJ doubts and queries or just some expression of how this can be better?

*For extra emphasis you could add two Q marks??

Hope you find that crafting the right Question a challenge that is exciting. For Question headlines are extremely effective in reaching the target audience. 


Friday, January 27, 2012

Create an awesome portfolio with these Spec ads


If you are interested in getting a job as an advertising creative, either as a copywriter; an artist then you need to create Spec ads in your Portfolio or BOOK. Make your Portfolio something out of the ordinary. Once you join an agency you have to craft regular stuff (most of the time!) but this is your time to plug off the stoppers and go for it! Make your portfolio outstanding and out-of -the box with these easy tips.


Mention SPEC on each ad. If you have the original ad you could put it along with your SPEC ads.
Hopefully you have a wonderful collection of ads from the print media and taped commercials, radio spots, include those that you dislike. If you have collected ads and created a Chap book with interesting ads and uninteresting ones - good, bad and the ugly – then each ad should be in the charmed circle of your ad collection, separated with sections for each type of ads for easy reference. This will help you when you create your portfolio.

Before you jumpstart, remember

Concepts, headlines are magical and have no connection to a fixed, planned strategy. Let go and watch them appear while you’re watching cricket or a movie or a boring serial- in fact anywhere...you never know! So be ready and handy with your pen and pad or grab your mobile to jot ideas or record them (pretend you’re talking to someone!).

The trick sometimes is to select print/ t/online/social ads which are not very famous or good  and in your perspective are flawed. Either the headline or the visual is boring; you can redo them for your SPEC portfolio.

Check:
First, does the ad have a good USP?
Does it show a clear - benefit of the benefit (what is the benefit to the customer - of the benefit you are claiming it has!). Complicated, not really! Just remember – how does this product/service benefit my target audience.


CHOOSE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES FOR YOUR BOOK

Choose ads from different categories - FMCG –that have a short shelf life, Lifestyle goods, White goods like washing machine, fridge, microwaves...

1.  Be the change! 
 Choose a well-known product but a bad ad (visually or typographical) that you can change with excellent concept, headlines, visual, copy- right to the tagline. Though a tagline is not changed normally, it is your portfolio after all - if you feel like it then go ahead and write a new one! Ideally you wouldn’t try to mess up with a line like ...Just Do It!!

2.   Theme them!
Make 3 ads that can be continued...with the same theme and different headlines. 

3.  Campaign to get voted!
Choose at least 2 complete campaigns with an all media connect. Every ad should speak of the same USP. That would mean 3 print, tvc’s, radio, web, btl which include danglers or standees, out of home advertising, social media, you tube promotions et al. Think of unusual ways to communicate.

4.   Categorically speaking!
Then choose another category- maybe a beauty product, perfume, toiletries, snacks - in fact anything that is used often and is relatively cheap and has a quick turnover.
Develop for your BOOK brands that aren’t very well-known. The reason is that if you do famous ads like Nike, Levi’s etc. you probably won’t get the attention you need to your creativity. For such ads are so deep set in the minds of customers (that means the agency person looking at your portfolio and that could even be the CD of the agency. So choose ads that are unusual or not doing well enough to make an impression

5. be stupid!
Create an all media campaign for one more product. Try a zany truly out-of-the box, crazy if you must be. Definitely - Be Stupid (Diesel tagline).  Read the book ‘Be Stupid’ by Rosso Renzo the creator of Diesel Jeans. A truly inspiring book of creating opportunities out of nothing and ‘Being stupid’ - doing what others think will not succeed and proving them wrong!
Minus is plus!

6. Create a negative ad made positive - the Bill Bernbach approach. Remember Volkswagen's LEMON, Avis' - We try harder. Also a local ad like the Indian ad Nirma created magic with its campaign in the late 80’s and gave Surf a run for their money. That’s when Surf created their brand ambassador in Lalitaji with “surf ki kharidari main hi samajhdari hai...”   hitting out at the cheaper Nirma with the premise of cheap need not be good - “...sasta hai to kya bhaiyya hum to sab tol mole ke kharidte hain...” (...cheap is not everything, i buy things that have value! )which put Surf back in the upper middle class housewife’s shopping basket. So also’ The Onida “devil” ad’ got them leverage to compete with Videocon and others.

7. Will you...?
How about creating an ad for a matrimonial ad for yourself – where you are the brand and you create an irresistible appeal to your target audience – of course, here you would look for a single partner!! Don’t stick to typographical.

8. Market to market!
One great classified Jobs ad (they can be very creative)!

9. Up for a cause!
Though social ads are not very crucial, it could turn out a great one-off in your medley of ads
  
Make that headstart!. Get started with creating your BOOK - your portfolio and then check the ‘how to write your resume here to land an interview. Resumes get you the interview that is one foot in the door. The agency will either ask you to send your portfolio this could take a while so carry on with the portfolio and check out as many agencies big, medium small - you never know which one is The One.

Check out Ogilvy on Advertising,‘Hey, Whipple squeeze this’ Advertising Copywriting, Tested Advertising by John Caples Check them on Amazon. Also a must read is Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins this one you can download free.






Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What if a martian came up - creative prompt

As Featured On EzineArticles

Creative Prompt Write:

What if a Martian came up to you while you are having a picnic and says "take me home, i've lost my ho..me home....

Take off with this creative prompt and write a story, a poem, an ad anything you feel creatively inspiring.
 Don't let other images come to your mind, create your own Martian and have a lot of fun.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chapbooks for advertising writing

What is a Chapbook:
 
The dictionary definition of a chapbook is “a small book or pamphlet containing poems, ballads,
stories, or religious tracts”.The name chapbook comes from many years ago when street vendors called "chapmen" (tradesman) sold inexpensive paperback booklets in the streets of villages, hamlets and towns. 
Learn to create a chapbook and use it for your advertising collection

Today a chapbook is used to define a book you store your cuttings of ads, articles, poems writing pieces for future reference and for inspiration. While doing creative advertising writing you should keep a journal and a chap book to collect your good, bad ads, great picture cuttings, and while it is filling up...  add - your headlines, creative ideas, prompts, your spec portfolio concepts... and collect famous taglines. Write them in a book or keep a folder of ads, headlines, taglines, direct mailers, brochures, even greetings you like. Cut out interesting visuals. In your folder craft your own take-offs on famous headlines. To cut your teeth on. Then take off with original headlines, taglines...

So basically it's no more a tiny book of poetry but a very important book for your growing passion for advertising writing.

Another good read on what is a chap book

ref chapbook:www.curiosmith.com 

download how to create a chapbook @ http://www.poemfish.com/download/CreatingAChapbook.pdf

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to sell a potato as a slimming brand?

Creative Session:
Take any vegetable; be it potato, tomato, brinjal(eggplant), ladies finger… and
  • make it a brand and create a personality for it! e.g. a potato is normally viewed as a fattening veggie when it is actually good for health with vitamins, minerals potassium and others - they're good -the fat comes when they are deep fried...and when you tend to overeat.
For e.g. What if you made it a model?
Headline: The perfect model(straight line headline)

Headline: Potato with tears (visual)

(Emotional headline) And they called me Fat
After working on the Potato try other veggies maybe bitter gourd, brinjal..well the vegetable kingdom awaits!

Friday, January 20, 2012

How to present your portfolio.


As you get going with your portfolio creation of SPEC ADS, spend some time thinking how you will present it. Hardbound, Digital and then the details you need to plan before you send your resume and wait for the interview call.


 Find details from afaqs Freelance switch on how to write a resume through different media

You could also check the do's and dont's of a resume from resume expert at monster.com

Tips before you start your SPEC portfolio - select ads


Get Your foot in the door into the advertising arena


Remember concepts, headlines are magical and have no connection to a fixed, planned strategy. Let go and watch them appear while you’re watching cricket or a movie or a boring serial - in fact anywhere...you never know! So be ready and handy with writing materials or a mobile to jot ideas.

Hopefully you have created headlines from all the categories mentioned by now. If not check them out. And I truly think you could write each ad with headlines from each type of headline. Make this a habit and you will find headlines slipping out when you least expect them.

The trick is to select ads which you feel are not good or ads which you think can be made effective. If you have noted, the reasons why these ads do not fit the criteria of a good ad, then revise them after you have done all the assignments.

First, ask yourself - does the ad have a good USP and clear - benefit of the benefit (which is simply what is the benefit to the customer - of the benefit you are claiming). Complicated, not really! Benefit of the benefit. Simple.

Read more on:

 9 ways to build your ad portfolio and get a job as a Copywriter
 
If you need a Refresh:

 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do you need to create LAYOUTS for SPEC AD portfolio

LAYOUTS for SPEC ADS
It is not necessary to do the complete layout if you are not an artist – a scribble can be effective as you can check out in Hey, whipple squeeze this and other books on Copywriting. A designer need not write the copy but should be able to write the headline.
But, today, even copywriters conceptualize with images. So learn a little image editing , if you can and try various layout scribbles and  from ads. Take help if needed and mention their names.

Google search, Imagesbazaar, Shutterstock, Flickr (could help with free images) and other such websites help you choose the image you are looking for -  so you can create a complete ad with visuals. Do remember these images are not for public use. These are not free but you could put a scribble or cut out a picture to reflect what you want in the ad. Take permission before you use these images.

Get started with creating your BOOK - your portfolio and then check the ‘how to write your resume’ advice on monster to land an interview. Yes, resumes are to get you the interview and that is one foot in the door. Rest depends on your interview and maybe a copy test.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Write Headlines with a visual prompt





Now that we know the types of headlines, let us learn to create - creative headlines with a random visual prompt

1. If you have been, doing your photography exercises you could choose one of those pictures. Use the image as a visual and write a headline for it

The product: A Sports Shoe

2. Take the USP of the product and merge it with the image. Your theme and USP decide the headline. Write the headlines with this as your hook…or helper(the image)

For example if you have ‘window’ as your image for the– sports shoe (product)

  • Think and jot down your ideas however wild they may seem, now! Leave it alone for a while; then, sort the ideas and choose one!
For e.g.  Window - view, glass, close, open, shut, beyond, neighbors, wall, building, curtains come to mind. Try it; you might be surprised at the words that jump out of your out-of-the-box mind.

  • After you choose an image and merge it with the USP go ahead and  create headline/s
For e.g. if your USP is ‘lightweight yet sturdy’ and your cues are neighbors, shut, wall then check the direction the headline takes.
1. If you have chosen ‘neighbors’, you could say - Watch them envy your stamina!
2. Shut: Open up to success

Here we haven’t used the word shut. That is the trick to good headlines! Surprise yourself with exploring new tracks. Don't stick to expected routes. Take off into new directions.

3. Wall (using what comes to mind associating with wall)
Hit off to a whole new road.

Tagline : XYZ Shoes – the right choice in Sports shoes

 Free Writing helps you with writing headlines

Keep up with the diary writing jotting ideas, observations and never forget FREE WRITING!

Even if you had to do this exercise, and were stuck with, say the word beyond. Free write about it for some time and stop in five minutes – time it. The five minutes is so that you just write as it comes to you without stopping to think or analyze… Every Exercise will be helpful, so keep practicing them..

Keep a journal and make it your reference on how you develop over a course of time! I find writing on the computer while free writing with the monitor off, a great way to focus without checking on what  I am writing. See what works for you.

Take off on your own route. Have Fun! Always!

Check the hidden headlines in this post.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's all about Emotional Headlines

Emotional Headlines

This kind of headline speaks directly to the target audience, appealing to his emotions. Use a direct or an indirect approach. Quite like the News Headline, (which we have spoken about in an earlier creative session), the direct approach gives the clear benefit only this time it’s about touching the emotions. News headlines are more practical in approach.

Direct Emotional Headline:

A direct emotional appeal along with the benefit should be clear to the reader and should touch his feelings! This type of headline has a direct effect on making an impact; indirect is more of an attention grabber!

A perfume that brings back the romance…


Indirect Emotional headline has no direct benefit but attaches importance to the reader’s feelings or fear/worry. It should entice the reader to read the offer or the solution to the problem he/she feels.

Indirect uses the emotional appeal that would grab the attention instantly but needs further explaining in the subhead or body copy. Use a real benefit not an unbelievable/ made up appeal


Will she come out with me? (Most products use emotions to touch the reader).



Choose the right approach that suits your product...and you'll get a winning 'Emotional Headline'!


Write a Testimonial Headline


Testimonial Headlines:

When users say positive things about a product then the ad becomes more believable. This is the Testimonial type of headline. You find very often celebrities are  used to do  testimonials but if you have: A person who can say that he likes the product/service, and, who will testify to the reason why the product works for him/her! Then go ahead , use them to get a winning headline!


The Testimonial Headline is a very popular type of headline and very effective if it is believable and of course, nothing succeeds like word-of-mouth! Testimonial advertising is like: word-of-mouth publicity! It includes every type of product/service. We will work on FMCG (fast moving consumer goods and 'White' goods

1.     FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) like tea, coffee, chocolate, consumer items of daily use, cosmetics, perfume, which are bought often like:Complan, Horlicks, Cadbury’s, Himalaya face wash, Nivea for Men, Herbal Range, Body Shop products, Dove soap, Garnier Deos… there are so many brands that you can choose from.

2.     White Goods – like a TV, Computer, Refrigerator, - things you usually change once in few years, normally!! Sony LED, Whirlpool Refrigerator Lenovo laptops, Galaxy tab mobile, iPhone, iPad , Kindle so on and so forth

  • Find their current ads or old ads and see how you would change it into a testimonial one!

Among these products, choose one that you do not use! Yes, choose one that you detest or dislike for some reason! Find your 'reason-why' and sell it!! This makes working on advertising, so exciting!

But, to make it successful you must:
  •  Research and understand why others are buying this particular product...
  • Test the product get a first hand view from a user
  • Find that special benefit to use in the headline.
The Next step is choose your celebrity or brand ambassador or an average user, as you deem fit for the product! For now, you could stick to these two categories (fmcg or white goods). Then, do as many categories as you can!


Creative Session: If you have done the write dialogues prompt and other prompts then testimonial headlines will be a piece of cake ! Since, you would have studied different people by now and started a story – and now we have gone into the minds to imagine what a person really thinks while doing something as mundane as shopping. Therefore, the words in the headline copy for testimonial ads would be what that target segment would use!.You have dialogue practice or you could do some of the sessions before you try this type of headline.

How to write a tagline



A tagline is one that is memorable, catchy and says in essence what your product/service or company is all about. To write your tagline:

  • ·        Sum up in short the features that separate it from other products.
  • ·        Make it catchy

A tagline rarely changes and so it is very important to craft it carefully. Right now, have fun coming up with delightful taglines...

Check the famous ones:post a few of your own


Just Do It (Nike - of course) 

7 Up (broke the clutter with) The Uncola

Where is the beef?  Wendys - is one very famous tagline. 

Avis Car rentals - We're #2, we try harder

Intel Inside

Plop, plop; fizz, fizz; oh, what a relief it is. - Alka Seltzer(it can be as catchy as a rhyme)

A Diamond is forever - De Beers

Life's good - LG

Yellow Pages: Let your fingers do the walking

McDonalds - I'm lovin it

BMW - Sheer driving pleasure

I am a Complan boy/girl

Mentos - Dimaag ki batti jala de (lights up your ideas _ a translation)

Sprite - Clear hai (it's clear)

Mountain Dew - kyon ki dar ke aage jeet hai(there is victory beyond fear)

Fill in the blanks:
Don't ----- ---- without it -  which  brand obviously you guessed - so you know how important a tagline is


Though normally taglines do not change there are times when the company decides to change it for business reasons…

 

How to write the Question Headline?



A tagline is one that is memorable, catchy and says in essence what your product/service or company is all about. To write your tagline:

  • ·        Sum up in short the features that separate it from other products.
  • ·        Make it catchy

A tagline rarely changes and so it is very important to craft it carefully. Right now, have fun coming up with delightful taglines...

Check the famous ones:post a few of your own


Just Do It (Nike - of course) 

7 Up (broke the clutter with) The Uncola

Where is the beef?  Wendys - is one very famous tagline. 

Avis Car rentals - We're #2, we try harder

Intel Inside

Plop, plop; fizz, fizz; oh, what a relief it is. - Alka Seltzer(it can be as catchy as a rhyme)

A Diamond is forever - De Beers

Life's good - LG

Yellow Pages: Let your fingers do the walking

McDonalds - I'm lovin it

BMW - Sheer driving pleasure

I am a Complan boy/girl

Mentos - Dimaag ki batti jala de (lights up your ideas _ a translation)

Sprite - Clear hai (it's clear)

Mountain Dew - kyon ki dar ke aage jeet hai(there is victory beyond fear)

Fill in the blanks:
Don't ----- ---- without it -  which  brand obviously you guessed - so you know how important a tagline is


Though normally taglines do not change there are times when the company decides to change it for business reasons…