Drayton Bird: “copywriting is bloody hard work”

I was at a conference last week and came away with the greatest sense of relief I have felt for a long time. The Small Business Marketing event was organised by The Chartered Institute of Marketing for small-to-medium businesses and, while the advice from all of the speakers was extremely relevant to SMEs, it was the words of the penultimate speaker, Drayton Bird, that were still ringing in my ears on the drive home. When you write content for a living, you have endless conversations – battles really – with clients and prospects who don’t understand the skill and effort involved in creating good copy. I don’t know what’s worse: when they think the task is not worth paying for, or when they realise you have done a better job than they did but can’t quite can’t believe it. And so, to hear world-renowned copywriter Drayton stand up at our conference last Friday and describe the processes involved as “bloody hard work” was the best feeling. I felt like clapping solo (actually, I might have done). He followed it with several other gems. Among them, an instruction to never again use the word ‘engagement’ in business unless writing about getting married. (I have never won that particular argument, but I might stand a chance now.) Mr Bird even managed to put a bit of salve on something annoying that happened at my place of work during the nineties. We had just hired a new chief executive, who made the immediate announcement that he didn’t like the colour orange. The marketing team of which I was a part, had to throw out its recently completed suite of satsuma-branded sales materials and start again. Hearing the world’s foremost wordsmith warn of the dangers of “changing stuff because you get bored, rather than waiting until you have something better,” was a very satisfying end to an interesting day....

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CIM Small Business Marketing Conference 2016

This year’s Small Business Marketing Conference, which is organised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), will take place at the University of Hertfordshire DeHavilland Campus, Hatfield on Friday 27 May 2016. I have attended the last three and they are really good value for money. This one promises to be the best yet, with a line up of expert speakers that would normally charge 1000’s of £££ to see. I kid you not – these people are among the best marketers in the world! If you are interested, you need to book quickly as the Early Bird Booking Discount (cost £50 members and £75 non-members) is due to finish on 13 May (after this the price goes up to £100 and £150 respectively). Widely regarded as one of the most successful and popular events in the CIM calendar, this conference is of interest to small business owners, as well as those who are responsible for the marketing of a small business, and anyone with an interest in ensuring effective marketing practice drives small business growth. This year’s speakers include: Drayton Bird, a world-renowned authority on direct marketing and copywriting, and the UK’s pre-eminent authority on marketing strategy Danny Bernstein, an expert on the marketing and sales funnel Professor Malcolm McDonald, who will be speaking about small business from a fresh perspective and introducing his new book on the topic. Attendees will leave with knowledge of why some areas of their marketing may not be working and tools for how to make what is working better. This event-packed day presents opportunities to visit companies exhibiting at the conference and to network with peers over coffee and a buffet lunch. Registration is from 09:00; the event starts at 09:30 and finishes at 16:00. Places are limited and demand often exceeds supply at this popular event, so please book early to avoid disappointment. For further details and how to book click here: http://www.cim.co.uk/events/the-cim-small-business-marketing-conference-2016 Interest in the event is also being ramped up via a social media campaign – see Twitter:...

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My route to marketing

 A younger person recently expressed an interest in editorial work, and this is what I wrote to her:   Hi Lizzie, My background in editorial work is primarily in the marketing discipline. I kind of fell into it as I started on a graduate retail management course and hated it! (I didn’t like selling and I wasn’t interested in the products!) But, I was creative and I got a job in the head office of the company writing instructions to the stores about how to display the products correctly. I then got the opportunity to work with graphic designers who were producing the point-of-sale and leaflets. I didn’t realise at the time, but I was just getting in there at the start of the desktop publishing revolution. Marketing communications was the discipline that grew out of this, and it suited me as I could write and edit. I also liked being involved with the branding and design / visual advertising side of getting messages across to audiences. I moved from retail / business to consumer (b2c) to business-to-business (b2b) marketing, where the writing skill became far more important. Instead of writing a few words to a store manager about how to dress the shop window, I was turning technical jargon about telecoms and IT into articles for sales people in the air transportation industry. Later, I moved into a role where I was a town centre manager in Bedfordshire, which involved promoting the local businesses. I had to do marketing tasks I hadn’t done before, including event management (fun, but doesn’t require creative writing skills) and public relations (PR). PR does require competent writing skills as you are trying to sell your event / company into the media, but the writing isn’t very creative as it is more a case of giving the journalist the facts for them to write the story from. In some jobs though, the marketing comms and PR skills come together well. For me, as a self-employed person, that is pretty useful e.g. for one client now, I manage the PR for selling the new homes they build and I also help with writing the sales brochures and proofreading the ads. In summary, there is a need for people with good writing and proofreading skills in business generally. Now digital media is so big, and companies need people to write their website content and their social media etc. It also used to be the case that there was more money to be made in the business world than book publishing. However, my background is not in book publishing, although, during the last two years I have edited a bestselling Kindle novel, and I have also...

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Event management checklist

It feels like there are a million things to think about when you are responsible for event management. This list contains the items that I have found are needed for most corporate events. Of course, good planning is essential, but always be prepared to expect the unexpected! Proposal receive initial instruction from client that event is required meet to discuss requirements agree a venue agree agenda agree a budget draft initial proposal and send to client for approval. Guest list keep an up-to-date database for client send to client for updating before the event use for name badges bring final version to the event for reference. Invitations get designed (check branding guidelines) get approval from client decide whether to email, post or both select  guests from approved guest list send to printer if required give key notes speakers / VIPs plenty of notice. Catering agree what type is required e.g. lunch, finger buffet, tea and cake find and instruct caterer order cutlery, glassware, table cloths cater for vegetarian and vegan if required visit the venue to check logistics. Logistics audio visual requirements furniture, marquee, umbrellas parking disabled access toilets health and safety. Press pack and media ensure media receive an invitation and agenda instruct and brief photographer write and approve pre-launch press release insert into press pack:  press release, CD of images, relevant business cards, agenda, brochure and other information. Gifts decide if a presentation to VIPs is needed e.g. flowers order corporate merchandise (ensure sufficient lead time). Good luck! Click here to download this free Launch event checklist – essential for anyone planning a corporate...

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Press pack guide

Press pack guide Press releases are generally emailed or posted online these days. They are also an invaluable component of the press pack given out to media when attending events. A press pack may include some or all of the following: • press release • CD with selected images • agenda of event • price list of products • corporate or sales brochure • business cards. Ensure the following are completed before the event: • Compile a database or list of relevant media contacts. • Email an invitation or pre-launch press release to media at least a week before. • If possible, send them the agenda too – they may not be able to attend the whole event but might turn up at the best time to get the most news. • Remember the photo opportunities – the press may send a photographer instead of (or as well as) a reporter. Ensure you have all your ‘props’ e.g. ribbon, scissors, large cheque. On the day: • Memorise the names and titles of VIPs – the reporter will expect you to know. • Keep an eye out for the photographer or reporter – they may introduce themselves or they may not. You need to be available to answer their questions, ensure they speak to the relevant VIPs and take the right photos. • Remember to give them the press pack! Click to download this free Press pack guide – a handy checklist of essential PR things to do before and during an...

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Copywriting

If you are a small-to-medium business, it’s likely that you don’t have much time or budget for copywriting. Perhaps you need to produce content for your first website, or social media business accounts, but don’t have the expertise to do this yourself. If this sounds like you, look no further: Dotting and Crossing is owned by Dawn Mimnagh, a professional marketer with over 20 years’ experience in several industries, across both private and public...

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