What would you do, who would you work for, if you could do any job?
Would you be the head of road testing at Ferrari?
Chief taster at Cadbury?
Perhaps you'd play lead guitar in a rock’n’roll band?
All of these jobs encapsulate one thing: fun. That smug feeling of, ‘Ha! I’ve got the best job in the world!’ Sure, there’s a serious task at hand. After all, you don’t want people to say that your motor’s a terrible drive, your chocolate tastes like tar, and your music’s dull.
I know what you’re thinking. What could be more thrilling than the roar of 20,000 fans drowning out the roar of your engine as you screech up to the O2 arena?
You’ve probably guessed it already…
Copywriting. Oh yeah, I went there. We’ve not even reached the peak (trough?) yet, there’s plenty more where that came from.
So, come with me on a journey of possibility and I’ll explain why words are the superpower you didn’t know you needed.
Fun plus detail equals magic
Earlier this week, I saw a series of Tweets about a dream job. That best-life scenario? Being a copywriter for the noughties computer game, The Sims. Seriously.*
The author shared examples of in-game copy that was really rather funny. The lessons for me were clear:
Have fun with your brand
And don’t forget… your copy is everywhere
Every part of business uses words in some form. Marketing, operations, accounts, client services. The whole shebang. And to delight your customers, to give them a memorable brand experience, you need to think about two things:
Your tone of voice, or how you say what you say
Detail, paying attention to the finer points of where you copy is placed, what it does and why
Tone of voice
The Sims’ tone of voice, for example, is amusing. Your tone impacts the way you come across, it’s the verbal extension of your brand.
The details of your copy
Don’t only put your stamp on the big stuff. You might pore over the detail of a brand-new campaign, by the truth is there are many, many opportunities to make something your own using words and language. Paying attention to the small things will show you and your colleagues to be the consummate professionals that you are. And, if you get it right, you might just win yourself some fans!
Humour is a winning strategy
It’s not the only one, but it’s a good place to start.
The thing that's so great about the copywriting within The Sims, is that it's funny. It's amusing, it makes the game even more fun. And the best thing is, it pops up in the most unlikely of places: in the ‘product descriptions’ for the furniture you buy for your characters.
The copy is irreverent, light-hearted, it’s all about play (well duh, it's a computer game), and it's cheeky.
Give your users all the gory detail
The detail of the copy is phenomenal. Lines and lines of text for fake furniture. Virtual furniture. Furniture you can't even sit on! Yet it talks to you as if you were buying it for yourself.
It's genius, because it totally pulls you into the world of the game. It gets you into the spirit of the task you are undertaking: building a life for your simulated characters. You feel compelled to purchase the furniture which best reflects the people, the style of the house, the decor. It makes you want to keep buying into the, err, Simerican Dream.
What gameplay can teach brands and businesses
The copy is intrinsic to the experience. And yet, I bet nobody anticipated it when they started playing. It's something they discovered after they had committed to buying the product, after they committed to playing the game. And it made them laugh. If playfulness isn’t the way to create fans of an entertainment brand, I don't know what is.
From a strictly functional, business point of view, that copy doesn't have to be there. It doesn't serve a sales function - the hard work is already done. It doesn't have to persuade you to play the game - if you've started already, you're hooked, believe me!
Create fans with clever copy
Copy equals results
Copy equals sales
Copy equals connection
Yeeeeeesss, all of those things.
Ask yourself this: how can you delight your audience? How can your words create moments of connection?
Have you ever bought something online, unwrapped the paper and there's a beautiful message inside? Perhaps you've put together some (real) furniture, guided by some quirky instructions? Maybe you've received an invoice, a proposal, or a welcome letter from a collaborator, only to smile at a charming message.
The point, is that your copy is EVERYWHERE. Your customers, clients and prospects interact with it in every single place that they do business with you. It's not only about a collection of funny words. It's not all puns. The tone of voice is critical to making your choice of language work. Light-hearted and a bit cheeky works for The Sims because it’s a game brand. Would that work for an accountant? Possibly, if that was true to their brand. Cheeky isn't the only tone of voice though. How about warm and approachable for a collective of physios? Sage yet incisive for a Management Consulting firm? There's no limit on what your Tone of Voice might be - all that matters is that it's yours.
The right language makes your work, yours
Here’s a question for you: what can you put your stamp on using tone, language and words? Something small and inconspicuous, something to delight those that discover it.
In ‘Ogilvy on Advertising’, the author tells how he would give anyone that was made head of one of his agencies a Russian Doll as a gift. Inside the Russian Doll, if they let their curiosity lead them to the smallest one, was an encouraging message.
What a beautiful analogy. For those who care enough to work with you, for those who are invested enough to pore over what you send, what an amazing surprise! Like stumbling across a hidden treasure that rewards those who look for it.
Weave your copy into the fabric of your business
When you communicate with your audience, your clients, your colleagues, your partners and collaborators, don't forget the small details. It's not just about the big hitters: the taglines, the landing pages, the smart, sexy sales copy. Use tone, use language, use words to weave the spirit of your brand through everything you do.
If that’s the kind of superpower that would be beneficial to your organisation, get in touch. I’d welcome the opportunity of a conversation.
Your words matter,
The Weekly Writing Reflection
Welcome to my humble writing abode.
Each week I share an inspirational quote and a writing prompt. The idea is for you to spend a moment doing some active reflection through writing. Enjoy!
‘We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.’
- Friedrich Nietzsche
And your writing prompt (unless you want to do your own thing):
When I change my tone of voice, I notice...
This just in… The Daily Writing Reflection is BACK…TOMORROW!
Great news positive people! I'm bringing back the Daily Writing Reflection.
If you enjoyed it during the early stages of lockdown, and you've been missing it ever since, fear no more. I missed it too, to be honest.
From TOMORROW, the 1st of August, I'll be tweeting an uplifting, positive quote and a writing prompt. It's been such an unpredictable year. While we are coming out of lockdown and everything is still a bit uncertain, I thought it would be a lovely distraction from the bombardment of confusing news. Something positive to look forward to!
At 1 o'clock every day I'll share an uplifting quote and a writing prompt. If you don't want to write? No worries. Simply take a moment to reflect. That's it!
Follow me @LauraSwritesGCM on Twitter to make sure you don't miss it.
What’s caught my eye this week
Each and every week I’ll share a few snippets of inspiration, thought-provocation and jubilation. Hand-curated delights, selected by yours truly to stimulate your mind, soothe your soul and pass some time.
Don't just go through the motions - How often do you find yourself spending time with family, talking with friends or entertaining loved ones of the small variety. Often? And how often do you find your mind wandering, your brain actively seeking out the next thing to think about, to add to the mental to-do list, planning for tomorrow instead of living for today? Just as often? Sue Heatherington has captured why we all need to s-l-o-w-d-o-w-n brilliantly, without judgement or patronisation. Check it out.
The constraint is the opportunity: business lessons from Taylor Swift - Yep, you read that right. I'm not ashamed to say that I love a bit of Taylor - 1989 was my album of 2015 and firmly converted me to the Church of Swift. Anyway! Here's a quick, thoughtful, yet not-too-serious piece on what Taylor Swift can teach us about making the most of a constraint.
You just need a reason and then you will glow - Wonder words from a wicked wordsmith. Poetry (no, not the stuffy kind you read at school!) for our times. If you're passionate about ANYTHING, then you've got the fire and Stefan Powell wants to tell it to you. If you're having a rubbish day - and even if you're having a great day - the joy, the wonder, the enthusiasm, runs off the page at a pace lava rolling down the side of a volcano would struggle to keep up with. Take a look.
That's all folks!
Did you enjoy this newsletter? Then why not share the love? If my ramblings are of no use to your friends, then I really hope that they might find a small piece of wonder in the recommended reading. Pass it on.
* Here are the Tweets showcasing The Sims’ marvellous copywriting. Children of the late 80s and 90s…how nostalgic are you feeling right now on a scale of one to ten? I’m about a 14.