Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Go Crazy …. It helps you LEARN and WIN

His Kannada examination is just the next day. This boy of 9yrs doesn’t really seem to understand the flak he gets from his teacher; nor our sad plight standing in front of the teacher as if we’d done something unpardonable. He is miserable in the language. He has been studying the language which is not his mother tongue for the past 4 yrs, though. And his mother makes him learn or by heart just before the exam.

The value of time is best understood or felt on the day before the Kannada exam for us and for the little boy too. Time ticks and he still is in the first chapter mugging up the answers. A silent prayer goes out off my heart to the Almighty to save us this time and bail out this poor and innocent boy. 

Luckily for the boy and for us, the Almighty does show mercy and get him through, and save us too each time. We sighed …with a big relief. Thanks to his mother for the unfathomable energy to drive him up the wall and make him cram the insurmountable amount of stuff in the subject in the shortest timeframe.

This boy should be taught the language in the vacation, we decided. We instructed him to read a lesson before breakfast, thinking this would make his little brain to remember fast. I carefully observed that this boy reads the one stipulated lesson and leaves the book and switches on the TV. (Our efforts finding a suitable teacher to teach him were in vain)

Almost 20 days have passed, and each day while he starts to read, this boy, stutters and mutters like he has been doing past so many years. What could be the reason?

I couldn’t fathom what went wrong. I’m equally crippled with the language. My wife is the only one who can barely read if not can understand every meaning.

An idea struck me, when he announced he finished his daily ritual of reading the one lesson: Hang in there, my son! Don’t just read it; Just go crazy about it.

Develop a Passion 

Our passions are shown in our daily activities. If you want to be a writer inevitably you’ll be found reading a lot of either news paper, or magazines or books. Your best friend comes and sits in front of you and patiently been waiting for you to finish your reading sojourn; but you never seem to know that a human figure sits in front, or even stepped in to your place (that’s how I used to read anything written in English).

This is your passion. You can rest assure yourself that this is your calling. If reading is your passion and inevitably you would write. Those thoughts and the corresponding phrases are recorded in your subconscious permanently. Once you trigger them they start belting out in full force, which you’ll be amazed at.

Go Overdrive 

It is just not enough if we do little by little in learning anything. Especially, writing. Writing takes a long process to get a grip on. It needs to be a rigorous exercise. You need to write on anything immediately. If you’re reading, you should read the best article several times and many times over. Even writing anything should be done with craze. Nothing should satisfy you. You need to see and write different drafts. Initially if you’re called to write you wouldn’t be surprised you’d get the best copy at the first instance or somewhere in the middle after number of drafts. 

My writing too hadn’t improved till that time I went on a feverish pace reading, and devouring everything at my sight. Ever since, I’m introduced to the internet it was an addiction of sort for me. Today, I’ve the confidence that I can write easily. 

Fatigue? Never! 

The more you read, the more you’re interested. The more you learn, the more you’re fired. The lesser you understand, the bigger will be your efforts (‘cause you’re crazy about it). Boredom, fatigue never touches you. Have you observed how a small toddler pursues a balloon? He moves farther as the balloon is pushed by his feet and he’ll never be tired of holding it.

Even a child too never gets tired of his playing or of his/her drawing. He pursues it with so much patience. “It’s simply craziness”, you end up telling to yourself about the child. 

Relent Not 

I told my son, don’t relent. Never stop with one lesson. Take it to two and three and four till you’re exhausted. Remind yourself the rewards you get, or the accolades you receive from your teacher and to yourself (you start liking yourself and you start believing in yourself). You feel proud of your achievement. You’ll be the role model to the world. 

I tell him look at me how I slog and read on the net. I sit hours together reading, reading and reading blogs. And I tell him that  I quit my job; knowing fully well that I’m technically-challenged (he helps me sometimes technically) and would like to strive to make big and, be a reputed writer who has a body of work to show to posterity. That’s to him – my son, and the world.

He knows my frustrations and my fights over the phone and often to myself. And still looks at me and say … “you’ll be a great copywriter one day as you’re crazy”. And I tell him “you’ll be a winner all the way as you’re crazy”. 

Monday, April 6, 2009


There was a deep silence after the client finished his speech explaining about his company and about their expertise. He was bombard with some questions that reminded me for a moment, if he was here as a criminal to be mercilessly pounded with irresponsible and often needless questions about his company and about its marketing and branding. I was reminded of an interrogation of an offender by the police personnel.

What happened afterwards, when the agency’s turn to give its presentation, was even more tormenting to the poor criminal (the marketing manager). It was as if he was being punished for having come there alone. He had to listen to the hush hush ramblings in his ear by a senior manager in the agency sitting next to him; while the rest of us are yawning and some are talking to the others in the regal seminar hall, while the person was trying to figure out what he was being told in his ears.

Probably, he would be thinking how fast this ordeal will be over, and how fast he can be relieved of listening to the earful of ramblings of the agency head, while the others in the room are having a gala time. You got the picture?

As this hard-to-witness-show was happening, I was lost in many thoughts: How would the client would feel now? In what light the agency was being portrayed in the eyes of the client?

Can you make any guess on - what would be going on in his mind?

What would you do If you’re in the clients’ position; and what would be your reaction?

Or if you’re in the agency what would you do, and how would you handle the situation?

I felt it was a very good opportunity that was missed by the agency to impress the client. And more so, it was a very good opportunity to encourage and exhort the people present – the visiualizers, art directors, the client servicing folks and everyone present in the conference hall.

The agency head would’ve taken the charge of anchoring the show with a generous dose of humor and witty comments (making it informal and lively), which is very important. He would do a world of good if he/she stands up and addresses the entire gathering including the client. The agency head would’ve thought that since the client was the only stranger there, he would better sit next to him and explain him about the agency by showing some creative kit.

But, my question is what’s wrong if the agency head stands up and speaks to the client about the company’s credentials, vision, and mission so proudly to all, including his colleagues. It’s nothing wrong if he/she reiterates the companies’ vision, mission and philosophy once again to all.

You may ask me: How does it matter, except the client every one else was from the agency and how should it make a difference…..etc, etc? I say each meeting is a chance to renew our vows:

  • Reiterating your vision, dreams and philosophy of the company from a podium shows that you’re a real professional and go-getter who has the drive to live your dreams.
  • This brave gesture of speaking with conviction, assures the client (the person with us) that we are really serious and makes him or her moved at our passion and the deep commitment.
  • The folks in the organization too get really jolted at the powerfully-crafted vision and mission and the philosophy being once again heard at a poignant occasion like this.  Shattering any doubts with the agency’s prowess to chart its dreams. And it would give them an occasion to look inside -what is their true contribution in attaining the dreams.
  • Every speech if done properly would certainly move the people. People are more emotionally driven. Words with conviction move them and melt them. The luncheon/dinner is forgotten by the end of the day, but the words ring in their ears very long.
  • Even the client is also a human being, besides being a hard core businessman, will sure leave the place a lot more determined to excel in his career (that’s a huge benefit which prompts him or her to remember us for long). He/she too will feel that his/her time spent there is worthwhile and rightly rewarded.

 The Lesson to learn is: Never shy away to speak to people what your vision, mission, and dreams are. There are different words (we’re blessed with) to interpret life and business’ goals and dreams in many different ways. By saying them once again we are growing inwardly and we’re inadvertently gaining some extra gumption and power to make a difference in our lives. And in others. 

 What are your experiences, can you share them? Do you believe that you’ve something to speak to the world when the opportunity arises? Or, you shy away from it?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How do our mindsets play a role in writing killer copy?

 If you ask me what makes me feel if a brand is good or bad. I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you that it’s their ultra sensitivity. Isn’t it? How about you? It’s the concern for the consumer that separates one successful brand from a not-so-successful one- from a successful blog to an okay- kind-of one. Here the denominator is their unstinted concern.

If they can represent and reflect my inner most feelings and sensibilities, I would vote for them. Even our relationships and society feel sophisticated and civilized with this sensitivity.

But. How many of us have time to really go into the nitty grityy each time we embark upon one – writing assignment like an ad or a brochure. Its bit difficult to fake your concern and it’ll always be a half-hearted attempt. It always fall a wee behind the expectations. May miss the right opportunity.  Unless you’re blessed with this sensible mindset, I feel, it’s quite difficult to look at others’ concerns.  The consumers’ life and priorities don’t really sink into to your collective conscience. Hence, you can’t reflect the same in your copy. Your copy lies insipid.

If you think / want your customer to benefit from a very good car/residential site/ fridge/ TV/ career course which is low priced and can easily fit in to their budget, tell him, that this product genuinely benefits them. Or if required nudge, and cajole him/her to take a decision with a voice that they feel is their own (a familiar and friendly tone). Compare and contrast his/her reason with yours and finally let him/her consider with their discretion.

Does this offer benefit him in the end? Does he/she feel happy about the decision? Won’t he/she become your loyal friend and customer all through life? Soon, they will, for sure.  

Even the customer doesn’t take a decision; he or she respects and considers you as a friend, though. As someone who trusts you, no matter what.

If you treat him/her a friend, you’d certainly hog the extra mile to win his/her heart through gentle speech that is directed to benefit him; not to trick him or her.

"Forget words like 'hard sell' and 'soft sell.' That will only confuse you. Just be sure your advertising is saying something with substance, something that will inform and serve the consumer, and be sure you're saying it like it's never been said before."  -William Bernbach

 A caring attitude helps to fathom the inner soul

                                                  (customer’s, that is) 

Brands and consumers relationship is akin to any relationship in our life. Reason why David Ogilvy said: “the consumer is none but your wife”. If we need to understand a person’s outburst or anger we need to know, what the reason is. If we care for a person we will know what are his likes and dislikes. We need to make attempts to understand these concerns (we call it research or experience). Then, and only then, the tone and voice of your copy will certainly gets attuned to entertain and educate the reader.

No effort spared to make him/her smile

Our choice of a headline, or body copy – the lead, will be made interesting, if you really like the person to whom you target the copy. If you care for him or her, you would write a couple of headlines more and see which one can potentially interest the reader. The lead – the introductory paragraph and the entire copy in the ad is made so interesting that you want your best buddy isn’t bored. You make it spicy and hilarious and yet at times poignant to elicit a kaleidoscope of emotions in your friend – reader, the target audience.

Some beautiful posts on the blogs of some famous writers mirror their efforts. Their genuine concern for the reader, who trudges to their sites for information and solace, is shown in their posts. Some sites are God-sent blessings to me as I can’t imagine a day without reading them.

 Your love has no boundaries

You make a conscious effort not to hurt him or her by misguiding them or by being rude or being brash. There is one hoarding which screams: ACT LIKE A MONKEY. Hmm.. what do you call it if not downright disregard for your customer. This hoarding and several other substandard ads I came across, prompted me to write this post.

If you know you hurt him or her inadvertently, you don’t waste time to say sorry and apologize. At last you find new and novel ways to tell stories to your reader to make them happy and give bits of information about something which is quite useful to make their lives easier and effortless.

Like… I want my friend to tell me if there is a good book on copywriting with a new perspective; a sale which is very good for purchasing a good pair of jeans, a good set of dining table etc. I appreciate that effort and want to reciprocate the same to him or her.

Your copy represents a sense of long-lasting relationship through the emotions you show towards your customer. For which, I believe, besides your wherewithal and know-how on copywriting and greater language mastery, it’s your caring mindset that makes you a good copywriter as someone who can write – killer copy that tugs the heart strings of your reader.

I read one post in a blog of a reputed freelance copywriter in America who shares similar sentiments: www.marte-cliff.com/wordpress

Does this concern help us to go the extra-mile, or can we write an emotional and touching copy even without actually feeling for the one whom it is addressed? Pls. feel free to comment and share your views.