There can’t be many business owners ready to get themselves tattooed to promote their brand.
Sure, there’s always someone ready to do it for you if the money’s right, but most of us rely on more conventional (and usually less painful) ways of showcasing our brand, whether that means print, digital or broadcast media.
Somewhere, right now, a crazed marketer may be poised to launch a campaign that proves me wrong, but it’s a pretty safe bet that tattoos will never be mainstream marketing tools.
There’s a good reason for that (well, quite a few, actually).
For starters, tattoos, like puppies, are for life.
Any message punctured and inked into your skin had better stand the test of time – because you (and, depending on its whereabouts, either the rest of the world or your nearest and dearest) will be looking at it for a very, very long time. So who’s going to stake skin-space on a brand staying unchanged for their lifetime?
But let’s suppose (presumably after the bender to end all benders) you succumb to the temptation to promote your business through the medium of skin.
When it comes to entrusting someone with the task of turning you into a living, breathing advertising space, what skillset do you look for?
Assuming you’ve already established that they’re blessed with more artistic ability than a 7 year old, have a reassuringly steady hand and don’t work from their garden shed with rusty needles and a bottle of Quink (source: p.1, ‘Tattoo Artistry for Dummies’) there’s a requirement so obvious that it could easily be overlooked – a basic command of the language.
Ask Terri Peterson.
Seven years ago, Terri, super-excited about being selected as a torch bearer at the London Olympics, decided to get herself a celebratory tattoo. Nothing unusual about that – except that she ended up with more media attention than she’d bargained on thanks to a humdinger of a spelling error.
Terri is clearly a trooper, laughing it off and re-framing the mess-up as a reflection of her own uniqueness. Not everyone would share her sanguine take on it, and I’m guessing more than a few would be trawling the web for ‘tattoo malpractice claims’.
So, since I’m pretty sure this isn’t something you’re likely to do any time soon, where am I going with this?
We should approach all our branding as if we were inking it into our skin for life.
Not because brands should remain static (quite the opposite), but because it would make us think a lot more carefully about the message we’re putting out there. The limited ‘real estate’ available to us would sharpen our minds about the need for clarity – and, I think, encourage some seriously creative copywriting.
We would look twice, three times, at a proposal before committing, making sure that every square inch of space was going to deliver value and a serious ROI. And I like to think we’d be proof-reading every single word. (Oh, and great artwork would be a high priority, rather than an afterthought left to a mate who apparently knows about these things.)
When it comes to promoting your business, well-crafted copy is one of the most powerful branding tools at your disposal. Unfortunately, it’s one of the most overlooked and abused.
Poor, sloppy, slap-dash copy single-handedly tears apart the good work you’ve done to build a strong and successful brand, and has huge potential for harm. Spelling errors and typos (the result of carelessness, ignorance and lack of proof-reading) speak volumes. Think of them as the written version of poor personal hygiene.
Case in point: an ad for copywriting services recently popped up on my Facebook newsfeed, describing the skills they had ‘developped’, the ‘benefit’s’ they could deliver (a rogue apostrophe, in case you hadn’t noticed), and how they could help clients to ‘becomes successful’.
Could they embarrass me and damage my brand? Definitely. Would I hire them? No.
Great copy, on the other hand, reinforces your brand, telling a story, driving interest, igniting passion and generating business.
It engages the right customers, using language they understand, leaves them in no doubt about what you can do for them, and leads them where you want them to go. Great copy makes you sound credible, informed and articulate – a serious player in your field. Great copy is well structured and has a logical flow, telling the reader what they need to know (and sometimes what they didn’t know they needed to know). It’s often entertaining and always interesting. It strips out the superfluous, using fewer words but more effectively. Correct grammar is a given – and it goes without saying that spelling errors and typos shouldn’t even make it to the first draught.
But it’s not just about getting it right once. It’s not just about that one-off, high-profile ad. It’s about consistency. It’s about great copy right across your brand, from your website to your brochures, and every customer touch-point in between. And yes, in real terms, that means every blog post, off-the-cuff tweet, and social media post must be well-written, showing your business in a great light and conveying your core brand message just as much as the big stuff does.
The good news is that words, one of the most powerful marketing tools available to you, are free.
But knowing how to use them effectively is an art. Not everyone has what it takes to turn them into something your bank manager will appreciate.
That doesn’t mean being clever for the sake of it.
Mark W. Schaefer (author of ‘Known’) says ‘Publishing your content isn’t a creative writing contest. It’s a war for attention’.
The words we use aren’t just there for the sake of it. They’re there to do a serious job for us: to get us noticed, and, ultimately, to win us business.
Remember that any time you put pen to paper, fingers to keyboards, or, if it ever comes to it, needles to skin.
By the way, if you find yourself in need of a copywriter, look for one who leads by example. Naturally, that means their own copy should inspire, engage and provoke action, but it should also show mastery of fundamentals like spelling, grammar and punctuation – and an awareness of the need to proof-read before publishing.
To find out more about Creative Mongrel’s copywriting services, visit www.creativemongrel.com/copywriting