If you want to be my lover, you got to get with my friends…
What’s an awful Spice Girls earworm got to do with all things comms, copy or content??
Two things, inspired by a brief I've just taken for a website for an SME client:
1. ZIG WHEN OTHERS ZAG
2. Talk to me = Tell my mates.
I’m never 'delighted' to take a brief as they all either fill me full of fear or excitement.
(That’s how seriously I take this shit. It’s part of the job. If I’m not emotionally engaged, your reader won’t be either).
But I keep doing it because a. I thrive on fear and excitement (they're pretty much the same thing), b. I love my job and c. my kids like to eat.
So, as the brief reveals its evil or awesome self, and I get a proper sense of what it’s all about, I’m either going to be full of the fear or all fired up.
On this one, I have to tell you, I’m writing this blog before I’ve even tackled the site because I AM SO EXCITED!
Why? Because the client wants a proper old school website WRITTEN FOR - OF ALL THINGS - PEOPLE.
No trying to please the algorithm. No packing with it keywords. No SEO research.
Just good old fashioned turn-‘em-on, light-‘em-up copy. Awesome.
The job for me here is to curb my enthusiasm but I am a FREAKING PROFESSIONAL so ultimately we’ll be all good.
Of course, there is a time and place for all the digital tricks that are part and parcel of digital marketing these days.
But the distinct approach for this client goes right the other way, driven by thinking that comes from experience.
They tried the digital marketing techniques. They had a go at blogging so that Google could see their business has a pulse, and they tried a Google ads campaign. But the few customers (5) they got from these activities weren’t customers for very long.
They just didn’t fit.
These guys are in insurance. Insurance for business people. Still, they know their game is more about people than business, and that requires building relationships in the long term so they can build a relationship and give advice that changes in tandem with the changing needs of the business. And the business person.
Their referrals mostly come from other business consultants and advisors. So, the leads they get from their network and from all over the UK are warm.
The way this smart client sees it, their website is a window. And it’s a window not into what they do but how they do it. Their prospect knows this team has what they’re looking for: they just need to be able to trust the team to do it.
Introducing the all-new window bridge!
The way I see it their website is a window AND a bridge: the stepping stone that brings their prospect a little closer. Not literally of course. Figuratively. Emotionally. Telephonically!
In a 'Call me, baby!' kind of way.
So, it follows that this site is all about tone. My job is to strike the right note that says two things in so many words: we’re experts at what we do and we don’t bite. Pick up the phone and ask us anything!
As they say in the Irish: sin é. That’s it!
But what about the zig-a-zig ahhs??
Here’s the thing: when lots of insurance companies are automating and digitising the shit out of everything they do, this team is taking a different tack and going for a people-centric approach.
That’s outstanding for customers. And super for standout.
We know this. Barbara Noakes of BBH wrote this strapline for Levi’s to launch black jeans into an invariably blue denim market:
“When the world zigs, zag.”
Its relevance resonates in pretty much every context where the herd is going one way.
And if you build this into every briefing exercise, you’ll be covering a lot of ground before you even get to the concepting, and that puts you on a firmer footing for the copywriting.
So, when you’re looking at context - and the marketplace - ask:
Are your competitors doing the right thing? Should you go the same way? Is their marketing based on information or assumptions? Do they know what people want and how to give it to them? Or are they blindly following the crowd? If they are right, will the same strategy work for you and your set up?
Do you want to blend in or do you want to set yourself apart?
That doesn’t always mean being outrageously avant garde and putting your craziest, zaniest foot forward. In fact, I’d advocate against that. It can mean, like in this case, taking a step back and remembering and reframing what people want,
what people really, really want,
in an age dominated by the algorithm.
And just quickly:
No.2: talk to me - is an easy win.
Their previous site, the one we’re updating, strikes an affable, engaging tone, despite the fact that it DOES NOT TALK TO THE READER DIRECTLY.
It says things like 'our company', 'our clients' and what we do for 'them'.
And the nuance is that it talks about what they do for other people. So you, in your head, as the reader, have already discounted yourself as a customer: the message is not for you.
It’s a psychological thing.
Let’s get on this: you must address your reader directly. Like I’m doing with you RN!
This transforms what is a random, impersonal broadcast into a personal conversation.
And now not only are we talking, we’re starting a conversation.
When I’m done here, these guys will sound like someone you can pick up the phone to for the chats. Purposeful chats. Confident in the knowledge they can answer your questions and give sound advice, while building the trust that they’re here to do the right thing for you.
And the icing on the cake is that if you like what they’re saying and the way that they’re saying it, they’re going to tell your friends.
Which kind of makes me an old-fashioned, flesh and blood algorithm but that is another story for another day.
Right now, I’ve got a sexy site to write!! #excited