Jul 282010
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[Post #1 in the “Other Voices” series, featuring Bruce Lee of Have Bruce Write It.]

This week I’ve been doing, with a little help from my friends, a mini-makeover on the TLOTL blog. A few of the changes:

  • Installed a new WordPress theme. Thank you to Sayontan Sinha for giving us the elegant and simple “Suffusion.” I gladly made a small PayPal donation in support of your excellent work on this theme.
  • Replaced the mugshot that was taken when I was 38 pounds heavier. Thank you to my wife Heather, to Concept2 Rowing (makers of my Concept2E Indoor Rower), and to my personal trainers at Conscious Body Pilates for supporting my renewed commitment to improved health.
  • Incorporated the “Tall Poppy” color element from the Scearce Market Development brand palette. Thank you to Penny Laine for your work on the original SMD palette and logo. And thanks to Chirag Mehta for publishing your helpful “Name That Color” lookup tool. The HEX# for that color, C04027, doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

I’m throwing shout-outs to these people and companies, some of whom I’ve never met in person, to underscore how much the creative process — in marketing, selling, or anything — is a team game. Which brings me to the fourth change I made to the blog this week: a new tagline.

“Tips, tools, and inspiration from marketing and sales masters.”

I’ve always thought the “Lord of the Leads” concept was about mastery of a process; specifically the process of generating and managing “the leads.” But successful practictioners of the marketing and sales arts understand that real mastery depends on integrating an incredibly diverse range of expertise — strategy, financial, product, creative, technical, analytical, operational — into a compelling buying experience for customers. A marketing leader, in particular, must be highly skilled at eliciting and synthesizing high-value contributions from experts in all of these areas.

So, starting with today’s guest post, I’m turning up the volume (to eleven) on the voices of other experts in the marketing and sales workflow.

First up to bat: Bruce Lee. Bruce and I are members of a consultants’ roundtablegroup here in Seattle. Two other similarities: it turns out we live about 1/2 mile apart (98112 baby!), and we both previously worked for companies that were acquired by Best Buy. We are also both self-styled word warriors, though there the differences quickly begin to emerge. Because, quite honestly, I’m Don Quixote to Bruce’s Sun Tzu.

Bruce is contributing “10 simple techniques to improve your advertising and web site copy.”

1.Have someone outside your department read what you’ve written, and ask them if they understand it thoroughly. Chances are you’re using some term that makes sense to you, but not to your intended reader. Someone from outside your fishbowl will catch that.

2.Don’t use acronyms. If it’s important enough to mention, it’s important enough to spell it out.

3.Don’t get cute.Never use any derivation of the Got Milk campaign (for example, “Got Trash?” or “Got Pho?”). Never make any allusion that “size does matter.” Leave humor to the experts.

4. Don’t lie. Exaggeration and hyperbole are lies. Omitting important details, or burying them in the fine print, is a form of lying. Someday soon, credit card companies will pay for this transgression.

5. Proofread it out loud. Then have someone else proofread it out loud while you listen.

6. Say it correctly. “Happens only once a year” is better than “Only happens once a year.” (Only Jack kissed Mary. Jack only kissed Mary. Jack kissed only Mary.) Misuse “it’s/its” or “your/you’re” only if you want the reader to think you’re incompetent.

7. Resist the urge to use an exclamation point. Resist!

8. Unless you’re simply listing a commodity and a price (1 gal. 2% milk, $3) include at least one product benefit. (Chocolate Milk. Builds strong bones and kids love it. 1 gal. $3)

9. Try to find a way to work the word “you” into the headline.

10. Know when to bend the rules. You’re trying to communicate with people using only symbols. But when a person reads, they hear a voice talking in their head. It’s sometimes okay for that voice to start a sentence with a preposition.

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  One Response to “Guest post from Bruce Lee: 10 simple techniques to improve your advertising and web site copy.”

  1. Excellent tips, Bruce! Doh, sorry ’bout the exclamation mark! Doh.