How copy can power technology-based marketing campaigns

Advertising and marketing copy has always had power. The late David Ogilvy, widely known as the father of advertising, wrote ads in the 1960s and 1970s that elevated brands and products to iconic status. In his 1983 book, “On Advertising,” Ogilvy introduced the concept of “the Big Idea” and explained how it attracts the attention of consumers. 

Ogilvy arrived at the Big Idea for campaigns by putting pencil to paper. His ideas sometimes took shape as a single print ad.  

Modern marketers put fingertips to keyboards. We have the challenge of writing for audiences who are constantly on the go and cover wide internet territory on their phones. Captivating them often requires capitalizing on technology. 

Emerging forms of experiential technology

A report published in Ad Age in January 2018 describes how augmented reality (AR) is one form of experiential technology that is “having a moment.”

Copy has power in this moment when the messages are geared toward being helpful and answering specific customer needs. 

One such example is a retail kiosk that uses AR technology. A recent article by Shopify notes that Lego got behind this approach early with displays that allow consumers to see what a toy looks like once it’s assembled.

A March 2018 article in Digital Trends highlights how a Lowe’s app allows buyers to see what appliances, decorative accessories and other products might look in their homes before they make their purchase. Consumers control the product demo in the palm of their hands, and they don’t have to endure a hard sales pitch. 

Virtual reality (VR) is another way to give consumers the opportunity to try before they buy. Adweek notes in a recent article that Walmart is exploring the platform as differentiator from other retail stores, such as Amazon and Target. Consumers will be able to get more from their shopping trip than time spent navigating aisles and checkout lanes.

Walmart hasn’t revealed its plans to the public, but the article points out that the retail giant has acquired the VR shop Spatialand to support its VR initiatives. In a previous collaboration, Spatialand and Walmart created a VR experience that simulated a campsite in Yosemite National Park. Consumers were able to test products like tents and see how big they are and how much work goes into setting them up.

Beyond retail settings, VR can be a highly effective tool for engaging audiences at tradeshows. The technology can be particularly useful for drawing visitors to a booth and increasing brand awareness. 

Writers shape and define experiences

The marketing writer on your team can work with UX/UI designers and developers to script every aspect of the experience, making sure it has the right balance of entertainment and customer relevance. The script should also be consistent with all your other brand communications.  

Whether it’s AR, VR or some other form of emerging technology, the experience you create can benefit from some branding, and this highlights another area where copy has power. Lowe’s named their app “View in Your Space,” for instance.   

Once the experience is all mapped out, copy can be a driver in the strategy for promoting the experience on digital and traditional marketing channels.  

In a “digital first” marketing world with CGI-rendered bells and voice-activated whistles, copy should always come first. There’s no marketing element more powerful than good-old, strategy-based copy.  

Even when stacked next to the latest in marketing technology platforms, content is still king when it’s done well.  

As support for this point, David Ogilvy once wrote, “What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.”

Ogilvy has also been famously quoted as saying, “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.”

This is no small task, but you can have great fun as you swing away, especially if you draw power from compelling copy. 

Looking for fresh approach to your marketing? Interested in exploring emerging technology campaigns? Contact WordsFresh for a writer-led plan that gets you to your goals. Tell us about your project.  

Build a better trade show booth by assembling the right team

You have the opportunity to participate in a trade show, and you want your booth to stand out. But how? The answer may become clearer when you consider that trade show booths are most impactful when they don’t look or feel like booths.

Booths are more likely to attract visitors when they break out of their boxy shell. After all, who wants to be trapped in a closed-in space that’s as drab as a beige cubicle?

So what are some alternatives to standard booth displays?

Many booths are feats of tension-fabric engineering and have large brand walls that are curved or uniquely angled. Others resemble a high-end retail environment, complete with digital displays and comfortable lounge seating.

You can go in any number of directions that are refreshingly unbooth-like.

Before you move down any particular path with your booth design, your best step is to begin assembling a team that can develop a strategic marketing plan for your event and execute it, staying within a specified timeline and budget.

1. Start with a strategist.

You have goals for your booth, and the right marketing vendor can work with you well in advance of the show to map out an effective strategy to achieve those goals. This vendor should be able to do a lot of heavy lifting that doesn’t involve plywood frames (see number five).

The strategist will lay the foundation for a lead-generating booth by thinking about all the necessary elements involved in getting prospects to your exhibit and enticing them to see what you have to say.

The strategy should include creative ideas for communicating your brand story in a way that connects with your target audience. Each idea should be supported with tactics that can be carried out in phases, including pre-show, during the show and post-show. Among the key areas of focus for the tactical plan is how to engage prospects and convert them into purchasers.

2. A copywriter tells your story.

A copywriter can define the messaging for your booth and make sure it’s in alignment with your prospects’ needs and interests. The messaging includes high-level headlines and more detailed bullet points, as well as content for social media posts.

If you’re working with a technologist (see number four) to create an interactive display, the copywriter can help with the script for that experience.

Once the show wraps up, the copywriter can support your team in immediately following up with prospects through a series of content marketing emails and maybe a traditional direct mail campaign.

Here’s a bonus should you go with a writer from WordsFresh for your project: At WordsFresh, your writer is also your strategist. This stems from our belief that a solid strategy starts with clear, audience-directed, on-brand words.

3. A designer adds impact.

A great design can be a powerful lure in drawing prospects to your booth. Ideally, you’ll work with a designer who has experience in creating large-format graphics for trade show booths. Beyond considering what might look good on a 12-ft.-wide exhibit, the designer needs to think about how the overall booth design will grab attention from different angles and viewing distances.

The designer on your team should also be comfortable working with precise measurements. For instance, the designer will need to coordinate with the builder to make sure any products you plan to display will fit within the booth walls.

4. Consider adding a technologist.

So in this age of digital ninjas and Chief Amazing Officers, you might be asking yourself what exactly is a “technologist.” A technologist is an expert in experiential or immersive technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality and gamification.

If you’re exhibiting at a high-profile event like the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), you know that the bar is high for delivering an element of the magically unexpected. This means your costs might be on the high side too.

Even if you’re not showcasing your brand or product on “the global stage for innovation,” you have an opportunity to stand out through the delivery of a technology-based experience.

The good news is you can select from a bells-and-whistles-light menu and still make a lasting impression on prospects.

For a tradeshow booth planned on behalf of an engineering solutions client, our WordsFresh team partnered with Jason Latta of Amazing Robot & Sons Interactive to develop a dual-monitor installation that functioned as a product selector. This setup gave visitors the chance to explore custom options for products, and passersby could see selections on a wall-mounted display screen.

5. A builder brings the booth to life.

If you’re planning a custom build-out for your exhibit, you’ll need an expert in trade show booth construction. The vendor should be someone you can rely on to choose materials that meet your design and budget requirements—and help your team conform to venue specifications.

You’ll also want the assurance that the vendor is capable of rising to expectations days before the show, when the pressure is on to get the booth up and running.

6. Don’t forget your salespeople.

Your salespeople are essential to delivering a memorable booth. A well-designed booth with a strong strategy foundation will draw people in, but it’s the sales folks who do the important work of getting face time with prospects and closing the sale.

Need a fresh perspective on your trade booth strategy? Contact WordsFresh for a writer-led plan that gets you to your goals. We can also assemble a team of experts to match your needs. Tell us about your project.

Writing visually: How to frame words for graphic impact

Left to my own compulsive and perfectionist devices, I could easily spend a couple of hours laboring over a headline to give it the right punch. But, as I shift my focus to my desktop clock and deadlines, I’m usually motivated to stop grinding away at the keyboard. Instead, I try to lock in to what makes a headline powerful.

So what are some benchmarks for a strong headline? My thinking typically goes something like this:

Not too fluffy.

Not too obscure.

Not too formal.

Just right.

Staying out of fluff territory is usually easy for me, but there have been times when I careened into the land of the bland and vague. This happened recently when I wrote a headline for a multi-fold flier that spoke broadly of “wide-open possibilities.” Fortunately, the art director on the project held me to task on my mistake.

Not holding back on any punches, he said, “Come on, Eileen, you know you have to give me something to latch on to.” I believe he actually used the words, “Come on, Eileen.”

I knew exactly what he meant. My headline did not lend itself in any concrete way to a powerful visual. It communicated in generalities and offered nothing particularly interesting to the reader—or my art director partner.

Just minutes later, in one of those aha moments that can come from working with a great art director, or downing a Friends-size mug of coffee, I realized exactly how I had gotten off track. I had written the headline without grounding it in an idea.

The idea is at the core of every marketing message. It’s what gives words their color, texture and latchability.

One compelling example of how an idea can give words color is this series of ads created for a teeth-whitening practice. The campaign takes items that are typically yellow, like a rubber duck, and depicts them as white objects. The headline is stylized in clean white type and reads, “We don’t like yellow.”

The white duck is one big golden egg of an idea. So how do you get there?

The answer is simple. Focus on the unique selling proposition of your product or service and think about how it might translate to an original concept.

Step back and look at the picture you’re creating

Once you have the start of an idea, try to picture it in a distinct way. Then, you can frame the words to support the picture.

You know you’ve hit the mark when the visual and headline are in close alignment. One example of such design and copy synchronization is this upside-down M&M ad that celebrated women’s history month in 2017. The headline reads, “Flip the status quo.”

Now chances are you’re not writing copy for a high-profile print ad. Maybe you’re tackling an online landing page. Or perhaps you’re working on a direct mail postcard. You can still think about your big idea for the piece and what the headline for that idea might be.

As you craft your headline, select words that provide the spark for a complementary visual, if you don’t already have one in mind. Try to communicate the benefit in an interesting or unusual way and see where that takes you.

Even if your budget limits you to stock photography, you can still effectively frame your headline for graphic impact.

Consider action words and mind your adjectives

Use of specific action words can make it easier to find an attention-getting image that appeals to your audiences on an emotional level.

If you use adjectives at all, apply them sparingly and consider turning them into nouns. Find examples like Nutella’s “Spread the happy” in this Slate article. The word “happy” provided a foundation for not only the visuals in the campaign, but also the smile face formatting of the headline.

It’s okay to go for slightly askew

Keep in mind that being creative often means breaking a few grammatical rules. In other words, “Think different” or “Eat Mor Chikin,” whichever you prefer.

Challenge yourself to break the mold without using clichéd phrases like break the mold.

If you’ve stepped back and found that you’ve framed your headline in a way that’s too off-center, or off-brand, you can always adjust it.

Just do yourself a favor and try not to get caught up in achieving perfection.

Need help in framing your marketing message? Contact the WordsFresh writing team for ideas on how to engage prospects and convert them into customers. Tell us about your project.

7 things I learned about trade show engagement at G.I.R.L. 2017

Trade shows are called “shows” for a reason. They can be quite a production, with a lot going on in front of you and behind the scenes. There’s lighting, entertainment and lively action.

G.I.R.L. 2017 is this year’s name for the Girl Scouts of the USA Convention and National Council Session that takes place every three years. The event draws thousands of girls, volunteers and leaders from the Girl Scout organization. There are also accomplished public figures on hand to speak to girls about how to push past obstacles and make an impact in their lives.

My time at G.I.R.L. 2017 was spent in the Hall of Experiences, which is set up much like a trade show. I had collaborated with my WordsFresh team on a brand and marketing strategy on behalf of a client that was an event sponsor and exhibitor.

As I walked around the venue, my eyes were opened to the many creative ways exhibitors enticed visitors to enter their booth spaces. My other senses were awakened, as well. I was immediately reminded of the importance of appealing to trade show audiences with an experience that they can enjoy on more than one level. This was just one lesson in engagement that I picked up at the show, along with lots of awesome tchotchkes*:

1. Design an experience, not just a banner.

Marketers often begin their trade show planning with ideas about graphics. They focus on creating large banners with strong brand images and headlines. This isn’t a bad strategy. However, if you’re looking to really stand out, it can be worthwhile to think about how you might design the overall booth experience.

Start by mapping out how visitors will move through your booth space and include details on what exactly they will experience at each station. Consider different scenarios, like the possibility of a visitor saying no to an invitation to view a particular product, and think about how that visitor might be led to a defined point of conversion, such as email capture via a scan of an event badge.

2. Think like a kid when planning booth elements.

Exhibitors at G.I.R.L. 2017** understood that their younger audiences wouldn’t want to be bombarded with marketing messages. So the exhibitors smartly figured out how to compel show attendees to explore their brand story and even take an active role in shaping it.

Some exhibitors invited booth visitors to leave messages for others to see. Others gave visitors the opportunity to playfully interact with their products.

Your prospects may not be 12 years old, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be surprised or have fun. You can stand out from other exhibitors by telling your story in a unique way and piquing the curiosity of audiences.

If you have the budget, you could invest in wall displays and other interfaces that use touch or gesture technology. Stories can take shape in video and text formats. Or, if your resources are limited, you might have visitors take photos with unusual props or play a classic carnival game, so long as the idea is in alignment with your brand strategy.

3. Give your booth a point of view.

Maybe you decide to run with a campaign theme or build on your brand positioning. Whatever it is you want to communicate, make sure it amounts to more than bullet points on signs and table placards. If it makes sense, figure out ways to link your brand story to the event theme.

4. Have a social strategy.

Use the designated event hashtag along with your own unique branded hashtag to engage prospects before, during and after the show. Make prospects want to connect with your brand.

5. Choose the right people to represent your brand.

Representatives in your booth should know your product or service inside and out, and they should have the ability and desire to enthusiastically engage with prospects. Have them wear company polo shirts or outfits that complement your brand colors.

6. Leave your visitors with something (beyond a tchotchke).

Ideally, with the right strategy in place, the experience of visiting your booth on its own will make a big impression on visitors. You can solidify this impression by having small handouts available to anyone who might be interested.

7. Follow up with visitors and nurture them with great content.

You’ve done well if you’ve successfully captivated prospects and captured their email addresses. Your next step is to nurture those leads by creating and deploying content that answers how your brand can meet your prospects’ needs.

*A not-so-little side note: If you’re a marketer who’s ever participated in the planning of a trade booth, you’re familiar with the word “tchotchke.” Getting the spelling right can take a moment, but figuring out the best and most cost-effective tchotchke, or gift, for your audiences is the real challenge.

One consideration when deciding on tchotchkes is that most trade show attendees do not want the inconvenience of having to lug around something large or otherwise unwieldly.

Another thing to keep in mind is branding. If you don’t brand items with your logo, you may want to attach a card with your company’s information.

**One more note: G.I.R.L. 2017 was led by Girl Scouts®, which is really impressive. A special “G-Team” of 21 Girl Scouts from all over the U.S. was involved in all aspects of planning.

You won’t have the benefit of having of the G-Team handle your trade show engagement strategy. You can, however, leverage the expertise and marketing muscle of Girl Scout alumnae. Many members of the WordsFresh team were once active Girl Scouts who know what it means to be a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™.

As testament to the strong G.I.R.L. leadership at our writing agency, WordsFresh is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise.

Need a fresh perspective on your trade booth strategy? Contact the WordsFresh writing team for ideas on how to engage prospects and convert them into customers. Tell us about your project.