Copy - Content - Marketing Communications Planning

Thursday, 22 April 2021

A lesson I was taught years ago.


There is one word which I’ve learnt to use in various ways over the years that’s probably earnt me more than any other.

It’s not a long word or particularly clever and it can fit into a sentence or statement very easily and can even be used on it’s own.


When you use the word, it magically gives the person you are talking to the impression that you are interested in what they are saying and makes finding things out quite easy.

I never over do this word, and if you use it with the wrong inflection, you can get into trouble.


What’s this word – really.


Yes really. Someone tells you that their service is the best, you say “really tell me more.”  


Clients tell you of their next project -” that sounds really challenging how can I help.”


It’s really easy to use really and I know that you will really find it very useful – really!


Friday, 16 April 2021

Who makes the decisions and why?

After all the marketing and communications planning and implementation, you have to wait and hope that a prospective or exiting customer makes the decision to engage.

You might want to use a cattle prod to get them to pick up the phone or make an online purchase or reply to your latest personalised direct mail – but sadly it is their choice.

Choice is one of the many obstacles.

Desire, immediate need, appreciation of your product or services benefits, even the time of the day all make up the background noise that gets in the way of engagement.

So, what to do?

Here are 5 things to consider. I call it the WATER approach.

Water is the key essential to life – try not watering your garden in the summer and see what happens.

Wait – Advocacy – Targeting – Engage – Repeat

Your marketing communications plan should be seen as a continuous activity – not a one-off series of events to support business development.

You must Wait for the blooms to develop. It’s never a quick fix. Marketing activity can in B2C be fast moving, but you still have to be realistic about timing.

Advocacy is so important. It’s more than recommendation. It builds brand faster than many other activities. The amount of investment you make to find a new customer should also be reflected in the investment you make in making them all become advocates for your products or services.

There is very little excuse for blanket broadcast marcomms. Targeting is so much more than getting the right person, think about timing, the wider environmental situation, and key individuals who may influence the people you need to engage with.

The hardest one of the WATERING process is Engage. Try doing something radical and pick up the phone and see if the target of your business affection has seen any of your marketing and would they like some additional information, or could you include them on your database. Invest in positively trying to engage with just 10% of our target audience and at least 30% of your new and existing customers on a regular basis.

And finally. Don’t stop with just the one campaign. Marketing communications is a Repeat activity. Make sure you have a clear and consistent message that is flexible enough to encompass all your business activity and keep going on about it.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Covid Copywriting - 5 things to consider


It’s increasingly clear that the Covid 19 pandemic has changed the world we live in at a fundamental level. Covid has given almost everyone on the planet an opportunity to rethink the way they perceive the world around them.

What does this mean for copy and content creators?

Well I’m sure we can all agree that to ignore the new “reality” we all find ourselves in is not a sensible or viable option. We are all consumers; we have all changed the way we make consumer choices. Some have been placed upon us through new rules and regulations, but I believe the most important changes copy creators must consider are those which govern the way everyone now perceives their world.

Here are 5 things to consider if you are planning to communicate with your clients, key influencers, or employees.

Risk – Just reflect on how the real and perceived level of risk to the individual has changed. Risk levels have an impact on choice and willingness to invest in new ideas, processes, or products.

Trust – Pre Covid if you required an audience to change the way you, or your company, or your market sector was perceived the level of trust was understood. Just think about used car salesmen and politicians for example – it was the considered wisdom they both had a level of trust which was manageable. Covid has changed that – for example national airlines have taken action which has altered the way they can be trusted, especially by their current and future employees, and customers.

Awareness – All sizes of companies are going to have to show they are fully aware the world has changed. Digging out a successful marketing communications strategy from a few years ago will just look out of place. It is obvious when TV commercials are still aired with 2019 content- it will be the same for all online and offline marketing collateral.

Empathy – Not just a softer tone of voice, but a clear understanding of the needs of your target audience. When putting offers to the market for example you may need to consider extended low interest credit options together with extended guarantees.

Integrity – Do you know how you or your company / organisation is perceived? What do your employees think about the company or organisation they work for? Is fairness and transparency clearly part of the values that guide decision making? Do you have a statement on the rights of individuals to be recognised regardless of their age, sexuality, creed, religious affiliations, and gender identity? These are very important issues and your communications need to reflect the changes that are happening. Covid 19 has created a new space that has given permission for major structural changes to society to be discussed and faced up.

Just 5 things to consider. Undoubtedly there are going to more. How many have you considered in the past 24 hours?

At the time of writing April 2021, there is clearly a long way to go with the Covid pandemic. If you would like to explore any of the themes in this article please contact  me

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Business development in an uncertain marketplace

Towards the end of 2015 and for the 1st quarter of 2016 I've been working with a team of entrepreneurs setting up a B2B service offering.

Nothing I haven't had the privilege of doing before, but what was so surprising was the way they viewed the short to medium term and how they were building in "uncertainty" into their business development model.

There has always been a degree of not knowing exactly what was going to happen in the future and the need to have "a plan" if things change. But working with these people and some additional research I've undertaken over the past 3 months have revealed 7 key changes that are going to happen which will create and sustain an "uncertain" marketplace for the foreseeable future. This is primarily in the UK marketplace but I've found parallels in the US and Germany.

The 7 key changes are;

  • Labour costs are going to rise significantly
  • Margins are going to reduce
  • Some prices will rise - mainly on professional services
  • Business owners will be forced to take less from their businesses
  • Experience will become more important than youthful exuberance
  • Real time face to face business communications will start to replace basic telephony
  • Investment in IT will be more important than investment in marketing
All the above just make the very uncertain world we wake up to every morning just that little more difficult to be confident in.

Confidence is going to be very important in every aspect of how business owners grow and maintain their competitive advantage.

Over the coming weeks I intend on focussing on how owners of VSB's (Very Small Businesses), and SME's (Small and Medium Enterprises) will need to radically change the way they think about how they invest in marketing and what they must do to give themselves the best chance of survival.

The next 2-5 years will see a dramatic change in the UK and possibly other international markets concerning  the impending changes that have already begun.  Those who sit on their hands might survive just as well as those who grasp some of the above. What I can guarantee is that if you get stuck in the middle ground with a half hearted response to just a few of these major changes you and your business will be in trouble.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Thoughts for marketing in 2016

Broken ankle time off has now come to an end and I’m back out and about after a 3 month quiet time.

This time has been really useful to take stock of my current marketing thoughts and concerns and hopefully be in a position to now offer clients views and direction as they prepare for a very uncertain future.

Are you ready for the marketing challenges of 2016?
Across all market sectors there are going to be some seismic shifts in the fundamentals that underpin the stability of each marketplace during the next 2 to 5 years. I used to be overly concerned with identifiable and individual incidents, such as macro and micro fiscal changes, the EU debate and demographic change. 

But now I’m more concerned with the organic flight and fight response that I think consumers will start to exhibit in light of a toxic combination of lack of job security, rises in inflation, removal of some differentials in wages of lower paid employees, reduction and removal of many social security benefits, rises in homelessness, more and more violent terrorist activity, and the inability of any government to manage the views and values of the majority in society.

The individual in my view will soon become just that – an individual. Sounds great, but after a short time, any reference to shared and common values will dissipate.  I predict a move to individual and national protectionism, linked to increased suspicion of others, fear of authority, and a need to reduce risk.

If you’re in business today, I suggest you start to plan for:
  • ·         A 30% reduction in non-essential spending
  • ·         Lower property values
  • ·         Increase in company insolvency as interest rates rise
  • ·         Lower rents in the long term
  • ·         Lower food costs – but also less choice and increased home cooking/baking
  • ·         Reduction in car ownership in real terms
  • ·         Less foreign travel
  • ·         Increased pressure on wages to maintain essential services
  • ·         More crime and just as worrying an increase in the perception that we live in a more lawless environment
  • ·         Changes to how we trade with Europe

In short marketing folk need to start to stop worrying about increasing market share and improving brand value and start worrying about finding new customers.

The good news is that for many the internet will help. Many companies still regard a fifty miles radius from their base as there market – not anymore. I know of a lawn company who recently started an online advice line and now provides clients around the world access to their considerable expertise.

There are thousands of potential customers who are happy to pay for knowledge, expertise and guidance.

In short the UK market is heading for prolonged stagnation – so create a global proposition and start finding income from beyond or current horizons.

Image courtesy of Anoop Krishnan at

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

What can a broken ankle teach you about marketing? Part 3

Well this broken ankle malarkey has taken more out of me than I thought it would - healing when you're a bit older takes time. But it has given me the time to really review how I've generated new business for myself and for my clients and here are some of my conclusions.
When was the last time you thought about why clients love or hate you?
The primary reason why businesses struggle, falter, and fail is not because of failures in marketing, or finance, or even effort. They fail because the idea behind the product or service was crap in the first place. Sorry but you can't polish a turd and eventually the market finds you out.

So lesson number one - if you can't generate new and repeat business, ask yourself if you have something worthwhile to offer, or are you just pissing in the wind and wasting your time.

Lesson number two - if you are making clients happy and they are paying with real money then find out why. You probably think you know, but in my experience you might not. I used to think clients used my services to generate more business - but I found out that clients used me to challenge them about what the future for their market might look like. My natural instinct to create space in a marketplace that has yet to be filled, led me to ask questions other marketing folk just ignored. 

Lesson number three - when you find out what you do that others will pay for - just get on with doing it. The time I've wasted doing everything else but getting on with doing what I do has cost me thousands. You don't have to have the best website, or nice business cards, or a new brochure - you really don't. Just find a client and do what you do - and then ask that satisfied client if they can help you grow your business by giving you an introduction to someone else. If you sell a product rather than a service you can do the same. Get your customers to become advocates for you. And when I say ask them, I don’t mean email them, I mean sitting with them eyeball to eyeball and asking them directly. In all the years I’ve been doing this, not once has a happy client said no!

Lesson number four - marketing and selling are two different skills, but increasingly forget the selling bit. Customers will come to you when they are ready. Selling is very old fashioned. Having excellent negotiation skills and being able to build a relationship with a stranger on the phone in less than 30 seconds are more valuable than learning how to handle a few objections!

The fastest way of growing your business is to make your clients genuine advocates for what you do – part 4 will focus on how this can be achieved.

Image courtesy of winnond at

Monday, 12 October 2015

What can a broken ankle teach you about marketing? Part 2

Enforced stillness and the requirement to slow down as a consequence of breaking my ankle has been both frustrating and surprisingly enlightening.

I've learnt that a portion of my working day was just wasted with "doing things".

Now I can't do so many activities and have to focus on stuff I can do, it's really clear I've been wasting time. I don't think 1 shall be as unfocused as I was, and I suggest that if you get to the end of the day and have missed your objectives you might want to reflect on what got in the way.

Practically speaking the old busted ankle has given me the time to take a long look at what I do and what I want to do over the next few years. But part of that process was a little bit scary.
When was the last time you did a bit of planning?
My Marketing and Business Development Plan was 3 years out of date and most of the action points and milestones I so carefully crafted were just not hit. How the hell did that happen?

Do you have a plan for marketing your business? How's it going?

Well don't break your ankle to find out! - If like mine it's out of date and just a forgotten wish list then do yourself and business a favour and make it a priority to fix.

There are loads of ideas on the web about how to build a marketing and business development plan - if you want to know where to look just email me and I'll send you a list of places that have always inspired me.

It's taken me the best part of 10 hours to get my ideas down on paper and now I'm putting the milestones into my Google Calendar so I get a kick every month. They say if you don't plan you're planning for failure - well I'm not sure. But what I've have learnt is that if you do plan you really should take it out every week and see if you're on track and not leave it in a drawer hidden away.

Next up on the list is a review on the return I have managed to get on the various different marketing comms activities I've used over the past 5 years. The initial results surprised me.