Archive for December, 2007

277% Better

December 29th, 2007 by Bob Bly

A TV commercial for Zone Pilates said the product is “277% more effective.”

This begs the question: 277% more effective than what?

Other Pilates machines? Ordinary Pilates with no equipment? Sit-ups? Going to the gym? Richard Simmons?

The rule in writing is that when you compare something, you have to say what you are comparing it to.

My rewrite: “Zones Pilates are 277% more effective than doing ordinary Pilates.”

Now, isn’t that better?

Or do you think implied in the statement “277% more effective” is the idea that it is more effective than ordinary Pilates — and that it’s so obvious, it doesn’t need to be stated?

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Category: Advertising | 266 Comments »

The Department of Redundancy Department

December 21st, 2007 by Bob Bly

A radio commercial for a financial services firm talked about how their investment advisors could help ensure financial security for “older senior citizen folks.”

Are there younger senior citizens? Are there citizens who are not folks? Why not just say “senior citizens”?

This may seem a small point. But everyone today talks about how no one reads long copy or has time to read. Redundancies add needless words and waste the reader’s time.

A few more: armed gunman … living survivors … RAM memory … foreign imports … past history … stupid idiot … new innovation … consensus of opinion … add together.

Any others you can think of?

And does avoiding redundancies matter in writing? What’s your personal opinion? Oops, I mean, what’s your opinion?

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Category: General | 15 Comments »

What Does Cheap Copy Cost?

December 17th, 2007 by Bob Bly

Today a potential client said he could not hire me to write his Web copy because I am too expensive.

He then informed me that he had two bids from other copywriters who would write his 18-page Web site for $1,000.

That comes to $55 per page of Web copy.

My question: what kind of copy do you think this marketer will get for $55 a page?

If it takes the writer 4 hours — including research and rewrites — to write each page, his hourly rate is $13.88.

Has copywriting become a total commodity? Or do the words on the page or screen still matter?

What level professional copywriter works for $13.88 an hour?

I am reminded of John Ruskin’s famous quote:

“”There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey.”

There seems to be no shortage of buyers who want to pay less and get worse for so many things today — including copy.

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Category: General | 32 Comments »

The Bad Copy Police Write a Ticket

December 14th, 2007 by Bob Bly

If I were the Bad Copy Police, I’d have to write a ticket to the local BMW dealer whose radio commercial I heard today.

The spot, announcing a sale on preowned BMWs, said the dealership was “making an offer even a Dickensian miser couldn’t resist.”

Huh? A “Dickensian miser”?

You and I know the copywriter is referring to Ebeneazor Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

But many listeners will hear the phrase “Dickensian miser” and think: “What does THAT mean?”

And the point will be lost.

My rewrite: “making an offer even Ebeneazor Scrooge couldn’t resist.”

Even better: have a character identify himself as Scrooge and say he is rushing down to the dealer because even he can’t resist the offer.

Why on Earth would the copywriter use such a bloated, pretentious, intellectual phrase in a car commercial?

Would you?

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Category: General | 22 Comments »

The Death of Copywriting

December 6th, 2007 by Bob Bly

My friend IB, a well-known marketing consultant, says that copywriting may be fading into the sunset.

“Copywriting is not as valued as it used to be,” she maintains. The reason: marketers today are gravitating toward other marketing tools.

Home-made videos create buzz on YouTube. Blogs are content, not sales copy. Print advertising is in decline. On the Web, researching and optimizing for keywords seems to be more important than “copy.”

Copywriters, do you agree? Are you finding that, in the age of Web 2.0, copywriting has diminished in importance?

Or does the old rule “copy is king” still hold?

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Category: General | 147 Comments »