The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

Authority Marketing: Using an Expert to Sell Your Product

Today I read this article which talks about failings in logic. In particular, take notice of the section call Appeal to Authority.

This is a technique used a lot in marketing. Think of a popular brand of toothbrushes- 9 out of 10 dentists recommend this brand, according to the ad. There’s also a spate of advertising to do with kids’ nutrition. Recent ads are showing mums who are also nutritionists selling products that everyday mums should put into their kids’ lunchboxes. (Those of you who watched The Gruen Transfer on August 31 know what I’m talking about).

Therein lies the question: how effective are these endorsements? Experts are a fantastic way to sell your product. If you’re looking to buy a product, for example, a book, you’ll probably read some reviews written by people who have read the book. The same applies to any product- you want to be assured that you aren’t wasting your time and money by purchasing the product. There are a bunch of websites allowing people to review every product imaginable, which helps you decide if it is the right product for you. Let’s say you’re buying a service. The service provider has a website with a heap of testimonials from satisfied customers. There is a chance that these have been made up but generally, the more information about the person, the more likely you are to believe it because they are more real to you.


The plumber was on time and everything was fixed perfectly.

The plumber was on time and everything was fixed perfectly.
-Pamela S, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.

Perhaps the most well-known example is celebrity endorsements. This is when a celebrity advertises a product (for a fee, of course, but you’re supposed to forget about that part). Personal trainers from TV weight loss shows are a good example- they advertise everything from courses to weight loss products to herbal treatments for joint pain. For some reason, people trust celebrities (particularly if they are successful in their career, like a sportsperson) so the celeb promoting a product is going to engage the consumer more than a nobody. Sometimes, this works as an advantage for community safety; remember Dr Karl Kruszelnicki’s ads for micro-sleeps while you’re driving?

So if you’re running a business, how can you cash in on this Appeal to Authority?

Use Testimonials: they are very effective. Contact past customers and ask for a few lines of their experience. Make sure you tell them that you’re planning to use this on your website/brochure/newsletter etc.

Connect with an Expert in a Complementary Area: If you’re a professional photographer, team up with a professional makeup artist so you’re both selling your services. The idea is that you’re selling both the photo and the experience of looking amazing. Similarly, if you’re a graphic designer, consider teaming up with a friendly copywriter to sell a package deal…

Last but not least: Solve the problem. The mums-who-are-nutritionists are solving the problem of what to put in your kids’ lunchbox. You want something healthy that they will eat. By using a nutritionist mum, she knows what kids want as well as what you want for them.


August 31, 2011 Posted by | Copywriting | , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s All About ME!

The Golden Rule of Copywriting is:

What’s in it for me?

This is the basis for your sales. The customer sees your ad (whether it be website, newsletter, brochure etc) and immediately, they need to know why they need you. This is where good copy can make a sale. Let’s see an example.

Bad Copy

Our company makes the finest cupcakes, from a secret recipe handed down generation to generation. We delight in using the freshest ingredients and our cupcake chefs are the best in the country. We know this because we have been awarded the prestigious Cupcake Award 3 years in a row.

Good Copy

Your tastebuds are in for a treat! Using a secret cupcake recipe from generations of mums, you’re promised the freshest ingredients from the best cupcake chefs in the country. You’re tasting the winners of the Cupcake Award for the past 3 years.

Mmm… cupcakes. By changing the “we” to “you”, you’re bringing the customer into your world and then you can begin the hard sell. When writing copy, ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” You’ll see your business in a different light because you’ll see it how your customers see it. You might have all the qualifications in the world and some pretty stuff to sell, but it won’t sell itself. Customers want to know why they need to buy your product/service.

(No, I do not have any cupcakes so please don’t ask!)



August 16, 2011 Posted by | Copywriting | , , | Leave a comment

Confessions of a Copywriter

Dear world,

I am a copywriter.

With those few words, suddenly I’m in the spotlight. People look at my grammar and spelling and pounce when I make a mistake (they’re all typos, I swear!) Here’s a list of small confessions.

1. Wot’s grammar?
There are few people today who use exquisite grammar. There are fewer people who know what it is. In this day and age of internet and 140 character limits, grammar is a forgotten skill. I wonder if most people would recognise proper grammar if they read it? (Although I have several pedantic friends who definitely could…) The truth is, when a copywriter writes, they’re writing for the general public using everyday language that is easily understandable. There’s no point in writing exceptional English by the book if no one can understand it. By the way, I still have trouble remembering when to use its or it’s.

2. We make up Words
Oh noes! Who’s seen the latest ads for McDonalds’ M Selections menu? Here are two words that are used which aren’t actual words: Schmancy and Deluxier. Those were written by a copywriter who, presumably, knows they aren’t words in any dictionary. Personally, I’m not a fan of making up words and catering (ha!) to a nation of grammatical retards, but that’s an entirely different matter. (The “Schmancy” campaign recently won an advertising award in the UK).

3. Australian Spelling is Optional
This is something I’m trying very hard to come to terms with. Last week, my copywriting coach presented a piece of work she’s recently completed. I have no idea what the point of the presentation was because my attention was completely absorbed in one little word: personalize. I picked her up on it, asking why she’d used the American spelling. She explained that a few years ago, she was pedantic about using the UK/Australian spellings but only recently resigned herself to using American as well, and increasingly. She mused it was probably her software’s spell check that auto-corrected her S’s to Z’s to the point that she doesn’t even notice her spelling anymore. I’m not sure I will ever be that comfortable with using Z, but I’m certainly trying not to get so upset over it!

4. Breaking the Rules
In the first heading, you’ll see I’ve written “Wot’s”. Some words were meant to be played with. Recently, my sister asked if “agreeance” was a word, as in, “We’re all in agreeance”. Of course, the correct word is agreement but she argued agreeance sounds better. There are other silly words that I use regularly: bestest is probably the one that appears the most. I may even use that in a campaign at some point…

5. Everything is awesome, and don’t you forget it!
I got into trouble this week for saying what’s on my mind. Copywriting is all about making things sounding amazing and irresistible; you can’t possibly live without these products or services. A few months ago, I wrote a promotional piece about a diet shake. I’m not a fan of diet shakes and writing how amazing this one was proved to be a challenge. Earlier this week, someone asked what I thought about a new doughnut. I may have said something rather unflattering about it, likening it to something my dog may have done last week that is still un-picked up in the backyard. Unprofessional? Absolutely. Tactless? Certainly. True? I thought so. It’s not often people ask what I actually think about a product, so it’s refreshing to say something a little bit nasty occasionally.

I’m finishing an essay for uni today. It’s been a while since I wrote an essay. When I started, I really wanted to use bullet points to get my thoughts across (bullet points and white space are essential when writing web copy). It was interesting moving away from my copy writing into essay writing, felt like I was learning a new skill, using different parts of my brain.

Or is that brane?

April 1, 2011 Posted by | Copywriting | , , | 4 Comments

Y: It Matters

Some years ago, someone said every time you read a book, there’s always a detail you missed the first time. For a long time after that, whenever I re-read a book, I looked for the bits I’d missed. The same goes for movies- every time you watch it, there’s a detail you’ve missed before.

For example, today I watched The Wizard of Oz. I’ve seen that movie oh, about a thousand times. Today, I noticed Dorothy’s posy of flowers changes before she begins walking the Yellow Brick Road. The posy she’s handed has mostly purple flowers, then the posy changes to mostly yellow flowers, then back to purple. It’s a detail I’ve never noticed before.

Recently I wrote a piece for a client and for some reason, despite all my proofreading, I completely missed a blindingly obvious spelling mistake. Even worse- it was the client’s name that had been misspelled. Yes people, I committed the Cardinal Sin of Copywriting: misspelling the name of the client in a piece of copy. Luckily, it was picked up before the client saw it, but I beat myself up about it for days afterward. How could I miss that detail? How could I miss something right in front of my eyes? How could I miss it after all the time I’d spent reading and re-reading the piece?

Of course, the best thing about mistakes is that you always remember them. Hopefully, you never make them again. So while I can no longer claim my strength is ‘attention to detail’, I’m always going to check, re-check and check again the client’s name before I press Send.

(In case anyone was wondering, I left out the Y in their name, hence the title of the post.)

February 6, 2011 Posted by | Copywriting, Thoughts & Reflections | , , , , , | Leave a comment