Marketing Copywriting: Does ‘Anal Retentive’ Have a Hyphen?

There wouldn’t even be a brouhaha over one space or two if even having a marketing copywriting style guide as a reference didn’t seem so out of style.

There are many stellar copywriters out there. And there are equally great editors. But can we please have a marketing copywriting style guide?

You see, there appear to be (too) many discussions around the all-important matter of how many spaces a writer should place after an end punctuation. Two spaces later, and now I’ve added another one.

There’s the one-space marketing copywriting camp: the digerati, journalism (both digital and print), chronic text users, rule haters, possibly job-screeners looking to weed out (illegally, even in fun) anyone over 40 by examining their written work. Journalism? I received an “F” once in a J-school assignment, because my professor called me out for using two spaces after at full stop. Paper costs money, even if a Twitter character doesn’t.

And there’s the two-space marketing copywriting camp: Book publishing, science, aesthetics, rule respecters from days-long-past childhood education, and perhaps anyone anally retentive. Oh, did I say science? Yes, even researchers have weighed in on this weighty matter. And you knew it was coming … the digerati quickly responded: Mental Floss, and I really appreciate LifeHacker’s investigative response.

Punctuation in Marketing Copywriting: One or Two, Oh My! Whatever Are We to Do?!

I have to say, I’m flabbergasted by all this concern (or lack thereof) over marketing copywriting punctuation.

First, I demand that any HR professional who screens job applicants based on one-space use or two — as a tacit means for age discrimination — ought to be fired, and the company he or she works for sued to high heaven. (Good luck proving it.)

Second, I thank the researchers who have “proven” that all our eyes need a break — even if it’s only a couple of pixels. Dear reader, I know I’m prone to write long, drawn-out sentences, and I apologize. I’ve always suspected you needed a break — and, as a default, I’ve always sought to give you one. No matter what font is used.

Third, perhaps all we really need is a marketing copywriting style guide — and adhere to it. When I get a freelance assignment, one question I often ask, “Is there a style guide for your company or publication? If not, do you default to Associated Press, Wired or Chicago Manual of Style?“ Even studying a client’s website, direct mail, official filings or other communications simply to discern if a preference even exists (or not) is helpful. Observe, and do what the client does with marketing copywriting.

Anal-Retentive Marketing Copywriting: Why Bother? Bother

Logically, there wouldn’t even be a brouhaha over one space or two if even having a marketing copywriting style guide as a reference didn’t seem so out of style.

Perhaps “anything goes” and “break all rules” is the new style — and thus, I’ve wasted your time reading this column, as I get nostalgic for consistency, order, attention to detail, and a layer of copy editors and proofreaders who no longer exist in the world of on-demand communication. But as we throw away the style guides, do we have to throw away the fact-checkers, too?

I guess, these days, that’s also a matter of style. At least there will be no eye strain here, today.

[Editor’s Note: The editors of Target Marketing have removed one space after each of Chet’s sentences. He is now informed: It’s our style!]

The Voice of Reason

I was completely taken aback by the voice on the other end of the line. He sounded weary—like he might be having a bad month. And he spoke slowly, as if he were having trouble gathering his thoughts. I was feeling impatient. It was the middle of the business day and I had answered my phone in between meetings.

I was completely taken aback by the voice on the other end of the line.

He sounded weary—like he might be having a bad month. And he spoke slowly, as if he were having trouble gathering his thoughts.

I was feeling impatient. It was the middle of the business day and I had answered my phone in between meetings.

By the time he finally laid out his sales pitch, I had already been multi-tasking for a few minutes: dashing off an email, signing off on an expense report, and scribbling down a headline that had popped into my head for a client project.

I politely thanked him for his call, told him I wasn’t interested and hung up. His style was such a turn-off, that I couldn’t recall his name, the company he represented, or the reason he thought I might be a good prospect for his product or service. Net-net, he had wasted my time and his.

So, I have to ask: when was the last time you audited your sales team? I don’t mean their stats—number of calls, number of connects, number of leads, etc., but actually listened in on their calls? Evaluated and provided tips on how an individual might improve with regard to tone and style? It may be the downfall of your telemarketing program.

So here are a five tips to share with your team:

  • Rev the vocal chords before you start dialing for dollars. Just like an athlete warms up before starting to practice, your voice needs time to get ready. Humming, singing or talking to coworkers is a great way to get your chords warmed up.
  • Adjust your pace. A great speaking voice/style includes particular attention to rhythm, pacing, intonation and inflection. Adjusting your tone to find the warmth in your voice that can match your company brand is critical to making your listener feel the same positive energy about your product/service that you’re feeling.
  • Stand up and be heard. Many experts agree that a voice carries more range, resonance and power when the diaphragm isn’t folded over. I often find myself pacing around my office, headset on, participating in a conference call or consultative conversation. It helps me to think clearly and listen more carefully.
  • Step away from the mic. Too often, callers sound muffled or difficult to hear because of their VOIP network, cell phone coverage or background noise. Test out your line/microphone/headset on others so it doesn’t detract from your call.
  • Adapt and reflect. People love to work with people who are like them. As you listen to your prospect, try to match their volume, speed, style and tone without sounding over the top. I was taught to nod while listening (even though they can’t see you) and that “agreement” will come across in your voice.

As for the sad-sack who called me, I’d suggest he find another line of employment. It was clear he didn’t like what he was doing and these tips probably won’t help.

Tapping Facebook Analytics to Identify Engaging Video Styles

Your online video style makes a difference in how your audience engages with you. Today we’ll compare three styles of video we’ve used, and what Facebook analytics reveal about where we experienced the highest levels of engagement. We begin with an overview of Facebook Insights data and charts, and then share engagement metrics to help you understand what kind of video style you may want to use

Your online video style makes a difference in how your audience engages with you. Today we’ll compare three styles of video we’ve used, and what Facebook analytics reveal about where we experienced the highest levels of engagement. We begin with an overview of Facebook Insights data and charts, and then share engagement metrics to help you understand what kind of video style you may want to use for your audience.

In today’s video, you’ll see how it’s the Facebook “Talking About This” numbers you need to pay attention to. You’ll also see that we found an older age demographic engages at a higher level than younger people (something we didn’t expect). Get the full story in today’s video presentation:

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

While Facebook Insight charts are a great tool, you need to export data into a spreadsheet for the deeper dive analysis. If you download that data, brace yourself for an avalanche of information. As a direct marketer, you’ll have greater use for certain data points over other information.

Thorough analysis of these data has helped us understand the audience engagement from three distinct types of videos.

  1. 2-3 minute “Behind-the-Curtain” storytelling videos
  2. 3-5 minute “Music Videos” sharing free content
  3. 20-35 second “Short Clip Videos”

If you follow our blog, you know we’ve been using the results of video performance from a non-profit performing arts organization. To sell tickets for Christmas Shows, we used a series of two to three minute videos we called Behind-the-Curtain. We also used music videos, delivering more of a content marketing video format, where we took full-length recorded songs, three to five minutes long, and matched them with images to complement the music.

Last month, we introduced short video clips as the format in a contest to promote a performance in mid-April. Each clip featured a new song that would be introduced on the show for the first time. Each of these video clips was twenty to thirty-five seconds long.

The short video clips had the highest average lifetime post total reach. A significant contribution to that difference is that several hundred more fans have been attracted to the fan page since the behind-the-curtain videos were released.

The longer music videos had the highest engagement and featured content the audience wanted to experience. This format generated the highest number of likes, comments and shares, reinforcing the effectiveness of using video in content marketing.

Even though the numbers for lifetime reach and engagement from our behind-the-curtain videos were smaller in absolute numbers, we believe the percentage of engagement is respectable. More importantly, though, the campaign where we used behind the curtain videos and music videos produced a sales increase of 20 percent.

Our conclusion from these results tells us that it’s a combination of video styles that should be used to effectively market your organization. Audiences can burn out quickly if you repeat the same approach over and over. One of our challenges, and a challenge you most surely share, is how do you build on your success and offer up something new and different that continues to engage your audience, and at the same time generate leads, sell more of your product or increase contributions.

Our next blog will complete this series on our short video campaign test. We’ll share email marketing results, landing page views, along with other metrics including ticket sales. As always, please share your comments below.