“Making It” as a Copywriter & Voice Over Artist

Dear Copy Bitch:

My name is Kenya, and I love your website.  It is very informative, resourceful, upbeat, but to the point! I’m writing you because I’d like to learn more about your experience and history of how you became a successful copywriter and voice over artist. I know I’m a good writer, but I’m always looking to perfect my craft and gain a competitive edge. How does one gain corporate clients/on-going clients, and how do you know when you’re really hitting the mark? (We can’t really measure how many clients’ customers respond to the copy we write, and copy can be so subjective – it seems more of an art than a science.) I have a few questions for you as a ‘working freelance writer’ as well if you have the time. Also, I have a strong interest in becoming a voice over artist. How do I break into that industry?

I’ve been freelancing writing part-time for the past four to five years. I started out magazine writing, and have been published in at least seven local publications in [city redacted] – where I reside – including the [name redacted] as one of their community columnists.

Currently I’ve expanded into copywriting. I’ve written a sales letter and bios, done brochure writing, and I currently work with a steady/on-going client doing webcopy, press releases, ad copy and other business writing.

I graduated with a creative writing degree. I’m a natural when it comes to writing, and therefore feel comfortable exploring different genres of writing. However, I’m still in the ‘starting-out’ stage, and want to know how to gain that leverage to the point where this isn’t supplemental income, but can be considered sustainable income – a real business.

Please visit me at my website (I created this more so as an online resume, and am working on getting a new website): [site redacted]

Thank you for your time!

Best wishes,
Kenya

Answer:  Hi, Kenya. Thanks so much for your kind words and for visiting my site. I’ll answer your questions as best I can.

How does one gain corporate clients/on-going clients, and how do you know when you’re really hitting the mark?
You have a lot of experience between your feature writing and the copywriting you’ve done so far. The most important thing you can do at this point (in my opinion) is invest in an optimized website. The portfolio you have on Google pages is fine to point editors to when they ask for clips. But corporate clients are going to want to see a deeper website that lists your services and has examples for each service. Of course, these clients need to find you first, which brings me to the optimization part of the equation. If you’re not familiar with search engine optimization, then definitely read up on it. In a nutshell, an optimized site will help attract targeted, quality traffic (if it’s done right). Did a search engine lead you to my site? If yes, which one did you use and what phrase did you search for? That’s search optimization at work. I’m a firm believer that your website should be making you money. A well-built site will likely give you the edge over competitors—or at least allow you to effectively compete with them.

As for me, I usually get clients in one of three ways: my website, referrals (from clients or people in my marketing “sphere,” such as web developers), and word of mouth/grapevine. I also have a monthly newsletter (make sure you sign up!), and I have gotten clients from that as well. I’m active on Twitter, and, as you know, I have a blog—social media is becoming more and more important (the blog you have is fine for now and highlights your writing chops, but I’d recommend developing a blog as part of your new website—and it should focus on writing).

How do you know when you’ve hit the mark? When you can pay the rent and stop eating Ramen noodles every night. 🙂  Seriously, everyone’s definition of success is different. Work backwards. How much do you want to make in 2010? How many projects will you likely need to complete in order to make that number? How many clients does that mean? How many prospects do you need in order to yield that number of clients? And so forth. As you probably already know, you’re running a business, so you need to think of it in those terms: keep good books, pay quarterly taxes, determine how much your monthly expenses are, create a marketin plan, etc.

The good news: there are tons of resources for us writers, and many are free. Here are a few sites I recommend you check out:

Here’s one caveat: it’s harder to be “just” a copywriter these days. Learn to wear many hats. Educate yourself on marketing. Consider doing some project management (e.g. manage a website launch, including the messaging, design, SEO, writing, etc). Become active in social media. I do project management, marketing, and social media in addition to plain old copywriting.

Network, network, network. The best way to get corporate clients is to surround yourself with other businesses that cater to corporate clients. Think web developers, graphic designers, marketing firms, ad agencies, etc. A great networking group to check out is Business Networking International (BNI). The beauty of BNI is that it’s designed to get you referrals (in exchange, you get referrals for fellow members). You meet with your chapter once a week, and you’d be the only copywriter in your chapter. Look for a chapter that already has a healthy marketing sphere (i.e. make sure you check out chapters that have web developers, marketers, graphic designers etc). Women’s organizations are also a great way to expand your reach.

Also, I have a strong interest in becoming a voice over artist.  How do I break into that industry?
I got into VOs through sheer luck. I was a radio intern during the summer before my senior year of college, and that position quickly turned into a full-time gig. I started doing voice work shortly thereafter. However, I can recommend an incredible voice coach who is also a good friend of mine: Moneen Daley Harte. She co-runs voice over boot camps that teach students the ins and outs of starting and developing a VO business. Here’s her site. If you contact her, feel free to use my name.

I have a few questions for you as a ‘working freelance writer’ as well if you have the time.
Absolutely. Ask away. A lot of people helped me out in the beginning, and I believe in the concept of paying it forward.

Good luck!

Back Up Your Backup and Long Live Redundancy!

Dear Copy Bitch: Should “back up” be one word or two?

–IT Geek

Answer: It depends on how you’re using it. If you’re using it as a verb phrase, then it should be two words. If you’re using it as a noun meaning a physical duplicate, then it should be one.

Examples:
1.  Mr. IT Geek, please back up my Pulitzer Prize-worthy novel and George Clooney photo collection. (Back up is two words because it’s a verb phrase.)

2.  Where’s the backup of my George Clooney photo collection? (Backup is one word, since it’s an actual physical duplicate.)

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Should You “Buy” Facebook Fans?

Dear Copy Bitch: We just launched a company fan page on Facebook. I recently connected with someone who said he could get me 500 fans in a week for a reasonable price. Right now, I’m at 63 fans. Should I do it?

—Fanless in Florida

Answer: It’s the old chicken and egg conundrum, 21st century style. We humans tend to easily and willingly join crowded bandwagons. I mean, if 5 million people are fans of Starbuck and I occasionally drink Starbucks, well I should fan Starbucks too because, shoot, I might miss something BIG.

But let’s face it: most of us ain’t Starbucks.

Here’s my take: I’d much rather grow my fan base organically. And yes, that means it will likely be small for a while. Remember why you’re doing this in the first place: at the end of the day, it’s about conversions. It’s about sales. I’d much rather have a hardcore fan base of 500 people, most of whom are customers, than a fan base of 5000 people, most of whom have never (and probably will never) buy from me. If you’re truly a fan of a brand, I suspect you’ll fan that page, even if the fan base is small. The hardcore fan base will probably be more active on your page (if you engage them…don’t forget, social media is a two-way street), which will attract more fans.

I actually faced this issue with a client a couple of weeks ago. She’s an etailer with two stores, and we just launched a fan page for her newer store. She tried the “buy-me-some-fans” model, and oh man, did she get them: sketchy fans, fans in far flung countries, and fans with profile pictures that were, um, questionable. (Prediction: Fans-for-sale operations are the new link farms.) My client learned her lesson and ended up unfriending a whole bunch of these people. We’re now back to a smaller base, but a real fan base. And the fans are responding and engaging with us on the page.

So how do you get fans? You need to ask often. And you need to promote the heck out of your page: on your website, during checkout, on sales confirmations, on your blog, in your email marketing, through customer service, in your advertising. Ask your fans to invite friends. Join Facebook groups where your fans hang out. And always provide interesting and fun content that’s not self-serving. They will come. But it will take time and hard work.

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Confounding the Copy Bitch: You Can Die Happy Now

I may be The Copy Bitch, but that doesn’t mean I know everything (I don’t). I often turn to my fellow scribes and editors (many of whom lurk on Facebook) and ask for their help. As you’ll see from the following transcript, not even we “experts” always agree. I was going to create a post about how to use “lay/lie” based on the following conversation that took place on my Facebook today, but I realized that the transcript was pretty amusing as is and I couldn’t improve upon it. So I’m including it below. (I’ve only removed the last names to protect the innocent.) And yes, you should learn something from it.

The Copy Bitch, as posted to her status update on 11/16/09: Grammar Geeks: when “hand picked” is used as a verb, is it one word or two…and if two, do you need a hyphen? “…but rather one that had been hand picked by a professional.”

Tracey: Isn’t it two words? Isn’t picked the verb and hand is one of those thingies that modifies a verb? Clearly I’m not a grammar geek, but for the most part speak goodly.

Christine: Yes, I would hyphenate it. The words are going together as a phrase, with Hand modifying picked.

Steve: Tough one. If homemade is one word then handpicked should be, too. However, store-bought is hyphenated. I’d go with one word. Sounds like the AP would agree.

Linda: Ask @FakeAPStylebook on Twitter… you might get a really great answer. 🙂

The Copy Bitch: well if my grammar geeks can’t agree, the general public probably won’t get caught up in it 🙂 I had it as “hand-picked” but was doubting myself.

Linda: I would put “hand-picked” also.

Steve: Dictionary.com and webtser.com list it as one word. But then who am I but just another “grammar geek” no one listens to.

Tracy (without an “e”): I would hyphenate. I also think the copy bitch should do one on “lay” versus “lie.” It drives me crazy when my yoga teachers say to ‘lay’ down on my mat. It’s LIE, people, LIE, LIE, LIE.

The Copy Bitch: Steve, did you say something? 😉 Seriously, I value your opinion and we do SO listen to you. Tracy (without an “e”): I suck at the lie/lay/lain thing (hey, we all have our weaknesses) and need to consult a dictionary whenever I have to write the word and then usually find a different word, just to avoid making mistake. I also avoid making left-hand turns whenever possible. 🙂

Tracy (without an “e”): Well, if you ever want a guest blogger, I’m there with the lie/lay/lain thing.

The Copy Bitch: Do you have any tricks for keeping them straight? I’m not above admitting my weakness in writing and quoting your tricks for keeping them straight. Would make for a funny post. And I’d learn something.

Tracy (without an “e”): Yes. “Lay” as a present tense always takes a direct object (as in “now I lay me down to sleep” or “Lay your mat down on the floor” or even “lay yourself down on your mat.” But if you are just telling people to lie down on their mats (not to lay themselves down), then you use ‘to lie’ because it doesn’t take a direct object. And the past tense of “lie” is “lay”, so I think that’s where people get confused, e.g. Last night at eight, I lay down in front of the tv and fell asleep.

Tracy (without an “e”): I think the technical way of putting it is that “to lay” is transitive.

Josh: Copy Bitch, you’ll never land Clooney if u admit you stink at the “lay thing” 🙂

Tracy (without an “e”): Quoting Josh would make for a much funnier post.

[Editor’s note: Agreed.]

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Case Study: Simple Steps to Better Blog Promotion

Dear Copy Bitch: As my favorite bitch when it comes to critiquing copy and writing style, would you take a peek at my blog? I’m interested in any feedback on writing style, length, readability, etc. If it’s boring shit that nobody would want to read, please let me know. http://www.viewfromsection29.com

—DJK, Wellesley, Mass.

Answer: Here’s what I tell my clients: the key to a blog is passion and consistency. You need to be passionate about your topic, and you need to blog at least 3 times a week. Since yours is a personal blog, rather than a business blog, the rules regarding consistency might not need to be strictly enforced, but the passion part is a must. And you got that! Baseball and radio are two of your biggest passions. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. They’re informative and entertaining. So write what you’d want to read. The fans of both will enjoy reading the posts…if they can find your blog.

Which brings me to the issue that may be plaguing your blog: promotion. Here are some simple things you can do to promote your blog…and to keep fans coming back: [Editor’s Note: Some of these suggestions were implemented right away, so if you look at the blog listed above, you might actually be viewing some of the solutions as opposed to the “problems.”]

1. Add an RSS feed at the top of the upper-right hand sidebar. You’ll need to claim your feed through something like Feed Burner (it’s free)

2. Add a “Subscribe via email” option right below it. Think of both of these things like the pre-program buttons on your car radio. Let fans of your blog have an easy way to find you and be reminded of you (the email subscription will send an email to your subscribers whenever a new post shows up…I believe you subscribe to my blog, so you probably know how this works).

3. Claim your blog on Technorati, if you haven’t already done so. This post will tell you why and how to do it. (Takes just a few minutes, and it’s free.)

4. Consider rebroadcasting your posts automatically to Facebook and Twitter through Twitterfeed (again, this is free). The reasons why you should opt for this as opposed to doing manual updates are 1) it saves time 2) it automatically shortens the permalink to bit.ly and 3) you can see how many people click on the link. Oh, and it’s my favorite price: free.

5. Add a “share button” of some sort to each post. Blogger probably has a plugin. Or if you google “add share button to Blogger,” I’m sure you’ll find tutorials and info. I’m on WordPress, which, unfortunately, has some limitations. I use a free service called Get Social. After I publish a post, I immediately create the “share button” through Get Social. I add the HTML to the end of the post and then update the post. It takes maybe a minute. The purpose of the share button is you want to make it super simple for readers to share your posts with others through Twitter and Facebook etc. This will get you more exposure and more readers.

6. But before you do Twitterfeed or the social button…I just noticed you don’t have permalinks enabled on your blog. You need to do that first. Here’s a post that tells you why and how to do that in Blogger.

7. I’d remove the Google Followers widget, if you can. Wait until you have a healthy number of subscribers, and then you can show it again or show a “feed reader.” [Editor’s Note: This was done immediately by the blog owner, per my suggstion.]

8. You should be able to manipulate the title tag of your blog. Right now in the title tag (the blue bar at the top of your screen), the URL is showing up. Instead, you want it to say something like “View from Section 29: Musings on Baseball, Radio, and Whatever.” That way, if people bookmark it, they’re bookmarking an actual title. Plus, people expect to see words there, not a URL.

9. Create a more robust profile…actually include a little paragraph of info about you (see mine and look at others).

10. A good way to get more traffic is to make sure you’re listed in blog directories. Here’s a great post that lists almost 50 places to list your blog. Most are free and just require you to add them to your blog roll (see my blog’s sidebar for how I handle this).

11. Promote complementary blogs by listing them in your blog roll (also, comment on these blogs…that’s the way to get them to potentially comment on yours).

Those are my quick-hitting thoughts. Let me know if you have any questions.

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Word Confusion: Lose vs. Loose

Dear Copy Bitch: Your “Word Confusion” tips are great. Because of your help, I stopped myself from making a Then/Than mistake today. Got any more?

—John M, Princeton, Mass.

Answer: Have I got more? That’s like asking George Clooney if he’s got sexy. Another common mistake: lose vs. loose. There’s an easy way to remember the difference between these two words: you “lose” the extra “o” when you mean “fail to keep or maintain” (i.e. “to lose”).

Example:

I guarantee my pants won’t be loose after Thanksgiving, which means I’ll need to lose the extra sweet-potato-pie poundage.

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Word Confusion: Farther vs. Further

Dear Copy Bitch: I love the tips you give on confusing words. How ’bout these: further vs. farther.

–Word Lover, NYC

Answer: As long as you don’t tell me you’re a Yankees lover, I’ll answer your question. Think of the phrase “traveling afar,” and you’ll have a good hint. If you’re talking distances, use “farther” (almost always). If you’re talking quantity or degree, go with further.

Examples:
George’s home in Italy is farther away from me than his home in California is.

If I go any further into my George obsession, some blog readers might think I’m seriously nutty.

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But What if the Conversation isn’t Satisfying?

Dear Copy Bitch: I keep reading that I need to engage my customers in conversation, and I feel that my team and I already do that. So why am I not seeing more “benefits” from this engagement?

—Confused in Manchester, NH

Answer: Indeed, the buzzword these days is “conversation.” Engage your customers and have conversations with them. That’s all well and good, but I have a question: what if the conversation isn’t satisfying to your customers? Is it enough for your business to simply be having the conversations, or should the goal be to have satisfying conversations?

Here’s my philosophy: don’t try to engage your customers in conversation unless you’re willing to make the commitment to having satisfying conversations. Now, I realize that you won’t be able to please every customer or prospect you come in touch with. And I’m not saying all conversation has to be intellectual or life changing. Like porn, a satisfying conversation isn’t something I can necessarily describe. But I know it when I see it and experience it.

Here’s a true-life example that recently happened to me. This example is a mixture of some satisfying and unsatisfying conversation.

Here’s the story: Since I live in Massachusetts, I’m required by state law to have health insurance. Since I’m a freelancer, I pay for my own health insurance. The Health Connector is an independent state agency that helps people like me find the right health insurance plan, and it promotes Commonwealth Choice and Commonwealth Care on its website. I get mine through Commonwealth Choice. Back in February, Commonwealth Choice offered e-pay, which I immediately signed up for. I do 99% of my personal and business payments this way for two reasons:

  1. It’s ultra convenient for me
  2. It’s a green solution–no more bills in the mail.

However, after having been on e-pay for six months, I kept getting paper bills: the amount due was listed as $0, and there was a return envelope for payment. This went against my whole greener solution. I went on the website to see if there was any information about why I might be getting a paper bill in the mail.

On the FAQs section of the e-pay website, it said (and still says) this:

Question: Will I continue to receive bills through the mail if I enroll in e-pay? Will it show my payment status?

Answer: We will continue to send you a regular monthly bill in the mail.

I don’t know about you, but that FAQ didn’t make any sense to me. So I called Commonwealth Choice and had a very unsatisfying conversation with the customer service rep who took my call. I explained my conundrum, and she didn’t make me feel like I had a valid question. She simply told me they were “required” to send me paper invoices. I asked if she knew whether this would change since it was a policy that was wasting paper, and she said she didn’t know but that maybe people in IT were working on it.

I decided to turn to Twitter, and sure enough @HealthConnector had an active account. So I tweeted. Here’s how it played out:

ME: @healthconnector Why do you waste paper by sending me “invoices” for $0 (with a return envelope for remittance) when I pay automatically online?
4:10 PM Oct 22nd from web

HC:  @RobynBradley Hmmm. Good question. Are you a Commonwealth Choice member? And if so, how long have you had E-Pay?
4:57 PM Oct 22nd from TweetDeck in reply to RobynBradley

ME: @HealthConnector Commonwealth Choice. Signed up for E-Pay right when you started it back in Feb/March. One reason I do epay is 2 b green!
6:09 PM Oct 22nd from web

So far, so good. I was pleased with the rapid reply. And for the record, I respect “I don’t know, but let me find out” responses–I appreciate the honesty. Satisfied so far? You betchya.

But then four days went by (including two weekend days, so we’ll forgive that). Here’s what happened next.

ME: @HealthConnecter Any word on why I’m still getting paper invoices? Signed up for auto e-pay back in February. ’tis a waste of paper.
9:50 AM Oct 26th from web

And another two days…

ME: @HealthConnector Any word?
1:47 PM Oct 28th from web

Finally a response…

HC: @RobynBradley E-pay is here, but the e-billing is not yet built out. Until it is, paper is how we confirm your payment status. We’re on it.
5:04 PM Oct 28th from TweetDeck in reply to RobynBradley

HC: @RobynBradley Sorry for the delay, btw. Needed to confirm the status of e-billing. Thanks for reaching out — and for going green!
5:07 PM Oct 28th from TweetDeck in reply to RobynBradley

How satisfying was this conversation for me? I’d label it “so-so,” and here’s my point: I had someone or something engaging me, the customer, at every step of the process (i.e. the FAQ section of the website, the customer service rep, and @HealthConnector). But not every engagement step, not every conversation, left me satisfied, and here’s why:

1. The FAQ section left me unsatisfied. An easy fix? Simply explain that e-pay and e-billing are two separate things (I’ll admit it; I didn’t know this until I went through this experience). I’d also recommend that the FAQ section not only explain the difference, but also why the Commonwealth Choice folks decided to release e-pay first as opposed to waiting and releasing e-pay and e-billing at the same time (like most other companies do; out of all the vendors that I pay electronically, this is the only one where the e-billing component isn’t working in tandem with epay).

2. Customer service reps should be prepped on these answers as well, and they should be encouraged to acknowledge a person’s query about it and express their understanding as to why someone who is trying to go green would be frustrated by getting a useless invoice for $0 AND a useless return envelope in the mail.

3. My initial interaction with @HealthConnector was totally satisfying. Then it wasn’t. But then it sorta was. I appreciate the “sorry for the delay,” but the answer didn’t make sense to me (I actually then had to research that e-pay and e-billing are two different things) and the “thanks for going green” comment felt a little hollow because my whole point is that the current situation isn’t totally green yet (it won’t be until e-billing is released, whenever that will be; saying “we’re on it” is okay, but vague).

So what are the takeaways from this?

  1. Simply engaging with customers isn’t enough. You need to make the commitment to leave them satisfied, which requires you to try to get in their head and think like them.
  2. Look deeper into their questions. My first tweet to @healthconnector mentioned the waste of paper and my second tweet mentioned that I do e-pay because I want to be green and my point is that receiving paper and an envelope in the mail every month detracts from my feeling of greenness. But neither one of these important issues was really acknowledged anywhere along the customer engagement process (not by the FAQ, not by the customer service rep, and not by the Twitter exchange)
  3. Now, I realize you won’t be able to satisfy all customers. But what can you do and say differently that would satisfy more of them? How can you change the tenor of the conversation to make it more effective and satisfying?

So what would have satisfied me?

  1. Better FAQ answers
  2. A customer service rep who didn’t make me feel like I was wasting her time
  3. Acknowledgement that the company isn’t totally green yet (since it just has e-pay), but that it hopes to be totally green within x-amount of time. Oh, and thanks for my patience during the wait b/c it must be frustrating getting the paper bills.

What do you think? Is simply having the conversation enough…or do we need to strive for satisfying conversations?

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My Prospecting Process: This is How I Roll

Dear Copy Bitch: Tell me more about your process in nurturing leads and prospects. I’d be curious to hear how you go about it.

—Curious in Canton, Mass.

Answer: Dear Curious…for me, it’s not about the sale. It’s about honesty, building relationships, and, at the end of the day, creating something (i.e. copy) that helps a client’s business get more conversions and sales. Want me to put my money where my mouth is? Here’s a real-life example (and an almost “real-time” example) of a prospect who came over the wire this morning and my resulting email conversation with him.

From: Cool Prospect
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 9:05 AM
To: robyn@etrobbins.com
Subject: Radio Ad
 
Robyn,

I’m not sure if you do this but I am looking for a 30 sec radio ready ad to be sent to me by email. If you do this what would be the cost?

Thanks,
Cool Prospect [name changed for privacy]

 

From: Robyn Bradley
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 9:12 AM
To: Cool Prospect
Subject: RE: Radio Ad

Hi Cool Prospect,

Thanks for your email. I do write radio ad copy. Questions:

1. What is the product or service that’s being promoted? (Can you point me to a website?)
2. What’s the goal of the spot (e.g. branding, driving people to website, getting people to call, etc.)?
3. Where will the spot be running, and do you have any demographic information on the radio station or stations (the radio sales reps will be able to get you this info)
4. How long is the radio flight for?
5. Where will the spot be produced?
6. When do you need the copy?

Best,
Robyn

From: Cool Prospect
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 2:05 PM
To: Robyn Bradley
Subject: Re: Radio Ad

Robyn,

Here is my response. [Editor’s Note: I’ve highlighted his responses in red]

Thanks,
Cool Prospect

 1.  What is the product or service that’s being promoted? (Can you point me to a website?)

Here is the site: [Editor’s note: redacted for his privacy; he sells a cool birthday party alternative to the classic “moonwalk rental,” but I won’t give away more than that]

2.  What’s the goal of the spot (e.g. branding, driving people to website, getting people to call, etc.)?

Introduction to the concept, A great easy party for mom, Drive people to the site

3.  Where will the spot be running, and do you have any demographic information on the radio station or stations (the radio sales reps will be able to get you this info)

I would like to be able to run it at any type of station

4.  How long is the radio flight for?

Assuming you mean how long it will run, until I feel people know us

5.  Where will the spot be produced?

Don’t have a place

6.      When do you need the copy?

No major rush
 

NOTE: At this point, I went to his website, Facebook page, and Twitter page, and I did a search in Google’s free keyword tool on some keyword phrases. Then I responded to his email.

From: Robyn Bradley
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 2:46 PM
To: Cool Prospect
Subject: RE: Radio Ad

Hi Cool Prospect,

Thanks for the info. Here are my additional questions and thoughts.

Do you serve a certain geographic area? I looked real fast on your site, but where you’re located didn’t jump out at me (though I see you’re in South Carolina based on your Twitter account). Do you haven franchisees set up across the country, or do you only serve SC right now?

Regardless, here’s my honest input: radio might not be the best place to spend your dollars, at least not yet. Radio tends to be expensive, and it’s more about the “long-term” with radio (I worked in major market radio for 13 years [in Boston]). Also, stations have different audiences. A radio spot that’s run on a 12+ station (geared towards tweens and the 18-34 set) would be entirely different than the spot you’d run on the “mom” station (mix stations or adult contemporary). I’m thinking you’re going after both of these audiences.

I think you’re smart to have a FaceBook page and Twitter presence. I’d work on really building these and creating the conversation with your core audience. Who makes the buying decisions? Is it moms? Dads? What age group is your sweet spot? 8-12? 13-17? Is it more popular with boys rather than girls, or is there an even split? What would be the best way to get in front of this younger audience? (Radio probably isn’t since radio listening among younger people has decreased thanks to iPods and iTunes.)

Some quick hitting thoughts for developing your brand and getting traffic to your site:

  • Do cross-promotions with gamers: you advertise on their sites, they advertise on yours. Or perhaps you can do some sort of incentive with some of the games…when people buy certain games, they get a coupon discount for Cool Party Idea for Kids.
  • Optimize your website. According to Google’s keyword tool, “birthday party ideas for kids” has an average 3600 global monthly search volume. Yet, there are only 2000 competing pages that use that phrase in the title tag. Finding the phrases your audience is searching on will take your site to the next level in getting traffic. Once your site is optimized, a pay-per-click campaign will also likely be a better use of your money (rather than radio ads)
  • Take advantage of traffic for “moonwalk rentals” and create a page that targets this keyword and gives the top ten reasons why your Cool Party Idea for Kids is better
  • Have you created a 12-month marketing plan for your company? If not, that might be the best place to start. From there, you’ll know your month-to-month budget and all the marketing tasks that need to happen. Social media can be effective, but it’s a ton of work to do right (and very much a 24/7 gig in the beginning).

I’m known for my candor…it wouldn’t be fair of me to simply write you a radio spot that probably won’t deliver much (no matter how well it’s written) when there are more pressing marketing tasks at hand (e.g. optimizing your site) and other marketing programs that might be more effective (such as pay-per-click).

Feel free to ask me questions. I can also provide you with marketing and search engine optimizer recommendations.

Best,
RB

And that’s where things stand right now. Yes, I’ve put some time and thought into this prospect, and there’s no guarantee that I’ll get anything from it. That’s okay. My hope is that my free advice resonates with him and that he follows some of my suggestions. At some point, Cool Prospect may run into someone who needs a good marketing writer. My hope is that he’ll say, “Gee, I can recommend someone who gave me some solid advice.” And even if this doesn’t happen, that’s okay–hey, I got  blog post out of it!

(I earned my Copy Bitch moniker for other reasons. That will be a post for another time.)

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Word Confusion: “Irregardless, I Could Care Less”

Dear Copy Bitch: My girlfriend says that when I say something like “Irregardless of what you think, I’m really a sensitive guy,” that I’m wrong and the word is “regardless.” Who’s right?

—Betrothed in Sioux City

Answer: Dear Betrothed…in this case, your girlfriend is right, at least regarding the word “irregardless” (Madame Copy Bitch makes no claim about your sensitivity one way or the other). Use “regardless.”

Here’s another phrase that confuses many: “could care less” vs. “couldn’t care less.” The proper use is “couldn’t care less.” For example, “I couldn’t care less about George’s supposed ‘other’ woman.”

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