As much as we’d like it to be the case, it doesn’t always turn out how we want the first time, does it. But realising this is a universal fact of life means it’s not our failure that counts- it’s what we do afterwards. Like that time, in a past life, where I answered a job posting for a recruitment firm in the city-
The first time I went in, I met with a woman who (if I recall correctly) was part of their HR team. I don’t remember her name, but let’s call her Gemma. She asked me about my employment history and what had inspired me to enquire for this job, before explaining what the listed role would involve. I got the strong impression she didn’t think I was suited for the position and that I really didn’t understand what the job actually entailed. I wondered if I’d read the job description correctly?
Still, Gemma mentioned that there was a group interview the following week and if I was still interested, I could put my name down to attend. I went home and considered whether or not I should bother? Maybe I’d be wasting my time and I’d just look like an idiot in front of everybody else there? Yet I decided it was better to go down in a blaze of glory than die wondering (as I expanded on here) so I found myself opting in and marking myself down to attend…
That following week, suited up and shoes shined, I returned to the company offices for the group interview. Conducting the interview was the company’s hiring department, and looking around the room the other applicants were of a similar age to myself, some with previous recruitment experience and then others who (like me) hadn’t worked in this kind of role before…
Throughout the interview we had to do exercises like conduct a pretend phone call with a disgruntled client and get them back onside, or pick from a number of statements and choose which one to argue the case for. I lucked out here because they’d included that Einstein quote about imagination being more important than knowledge. So during my turn to argue this cause I encouraged everybody in the room to look out of the plate glass window, at an elaborately designed building across the river. I then pointed out that this structures’ entire existence had its’ origins in someone’s imagination.
By the end of that group interview, I felt more than qualified. It would seem my confidence was justified when (a few days later) I received a call from a member of their hiring department to say how impressed they’d been with my interview and could I come back in for a 1 on 1 interview?
I showed up a little early, and while in the downstairs foyer I happened to notice Gemma. When she saw me her demeanour couldn’t have been more different to our last meeting. Her face lit up as she congratulated me, because she’d heard great things from the team about how I’d aced the group interview. What a change! And to think I would’ve missed out if I hadn’t taken another crack at it…
For stories like that one, there’s been times where the draft I’ve sent a client didn’t match their vision of what I was going to do for them. It doesn’t matter how clear your communication is, this is bound to happen sooner or later. As long as human relationships exist on the personal or professional level, there is also going to be misunderstanding along the way. I’ll admit there have been times where I’ve taken clients on with one understanding of what they needed- and then been left perplexed by what followed-
Clients have dropped off the face of the earth and not returned my calls when I was halfway through putting together their first draft they’d paid up for. Clients have begged me to help them get better interactions and engagement from their copy and then didn’t want to budge when I suggested any changes that would’ve helped them get the results they wanted. Clients have complained when I did exactly the job they asked me to do in the first place-
But if at first you don’t succeed, give it another shot. Accept that (even if you don’t get what you expected the first time) people generally are able to adapt and still want to help.
This is why, from the date that first draft gets sent to a client, I give them a month of unlimited edits to the document/s at no extra cost. It’s rare that a project needs more than two rounds of editing before the client is happy with what they see and (in my professional opinion) it’s copy that’ll get the results they seek.
“But Ben“, you might be asking “giving your clients a month of unlimited edits is short-changing yourself, surely? What about the ones who waste your time or can’t make up their mind and want to chop and change every 5 seconds?”
Glad you asked-
This 5th and final one of Scribe’s Big 5 Guarantees is how I find the type of clients I love working with versus those who would be a better fit elsewhere.
I love clients who are ready to take action, clients who are great communicators, clients who are clear on what they want even if they don’t know exactly how to achieve it (and that’s often why they’re talking to me in the first place!) Those clients are why I’m happy to provide this guarantee, because those are the kind of people worth making that extra effort for.
Such clients, to me, are priceless.
So if you need copy and that sounds like you- or you know of somebody who needs copy and that sounds like them, then Contact Me!
“It is a well-known fact that a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery. It is also a well-known fact that an individual battery will provide energy in proportion to the number and capacity of the cells it contains. The brain functions in a similar fashion. This accounts for the fact that some brains are more efficient than others, and leads to this significant statement- a group of brains coordinated (or connected) in a spirit of harmony, will provide more thought-energy than a single brain, just as a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery.”
‘Think & Grow Rich’, Napoleon Hill
Did you ever see that movie ‘Sliding Doors’? The basic premise interested me- the notion that one simple scenario like just missing a subway train home could trigger a massive alternate reality where everything from your hairstyle to your relationship status to your career differed. I didn’t actually watch the movie until just a year or so ago- and (while I don’t want to reveal spoilers) I found it interesting that what appeared to be the ‘better’ reality for the main characters didn’t necessarily turn out to be so. But I digress-
Because here’s my own story about how a single coffee meeting in Brisbane’s eastern suburbs back in 2013 was to notably change the course of my business- and my life- for the next few years at least:
See, John and I met at a business networking event, and we arranged to catch up for a coffee later on at a cafe in Norman Park. During that conversation, John mentioned a business consultant he knew, named Anthea, who was running an upcoming workshop on time management called ‘Stop The Clock‘. Getting better results for my time was something I was quite interested in, so I found out more details and then (on the day) I went along to this workshop over in Newstead…
Despite it being a single days’ workshop (and a free one at that) I was immediately impressed with the amount of preparation Anthea put into the workshops’ organisation, and how professionally laid-out the materials were. While I was already familiar with many of the areas covered, there were other concepts where I had something of a lightbulb moment. I left the workshop with new ideas and a folder under my arm full of valuable course material…
Not long afterwards, I was at another event where attendees dropped their business cards into a metal bucket and then (at the end of the event) cards were randomly picked out for prizes. As it happened, my card was drawn second- and the prize was a years’ membership in these monthly educational events Anthea held, aimed at business owners just like myself.
Going to these events is how I got to meet Julie. Julie had actually been there the night my card was drawn and we’d spoken briefly, but I realised the scope of Julie’s expertise when she did a presentation on getting the most out of LinkedIn. She was holding a 2-day workshop and I was definitely interested in brushing up on my LinkedIn knowledge (knowing it’d translate not just for my profile, but in regards to what I could do for my clients). So I put my name down and off I went…
The workshop was both informative and entertaining- and that’s a testament not just to what Julie knows about LinkedIn, but how she teaches it. If I had to sum it up in two words? Infectious Enthusiasm. But it didn’t end there-
See, Julie went on to provide me with two things I hadn’t expected:
a) A carton full of marketing and copywriting related newsletters, DVD’s and other educational material she thought would be right up my alley, probably worth 4 figures in total when bought- and mine to keep
b) An introduction to Rose
Rose was the director of a business networking organisation with groups in my area, and while they had all sorts of business owners and specialists in these groups, they didn’t have anybody who specialised in copywriting- yet.
So I began attending a group in the CBD that met every Thursday afternoon, and I was soon doing presentations on copywriting before the group. I also met other business owners in the process and some of them I’m still connected with to this day. But it didn’t end there…
See, at this point in my life I was at something of a crossroads. I’d been in Brisbane for nearly 5 years and in that time I’d started Scribe, made new friends, seen some old ones move on and (to say the least) I’d changed as well. My life and my whole outlook was largely different from the one I’d arrived with. I’d begun wondering if staying here was meant to be, or if I should make a fresh start somewhere else. Because if I had the freedom to be anywhere, was this really the best option?
Then in February 2015 I was with Rose and a colleague named Stuart who did videography, at a 3 day marketing seminar at the Grand Chancellor on the Gold Coast. The whole time during the seminar we were brainstorming ideas, jotting them down and passing notes back and forth between the three of us. Then on the second day, Rose told me that she’d decided to open a new group here on the Coast, and she wanted me to come on board as assistant to the group ambassador.
I was already doing my MBA part-time down on the Gold Coast, so coupled with this new role? It now made perfect sense for this to be my next move...
So in a single weekend I got the answer I’d been looking for, and without any prompting it’d come about because I knew Rose>
Who’d been introduced to me by Julie>
Who I’d met (indirectly) through Anthea>
Who I’d been recommended to by John.
So, if it wasn’t for that coffee meeting with John back in 2013 in Norman Park, would I have found myself relocating down to the sunny Gold Coast in March of 2015, right when I’d been looking to start afresh? Who knows…
On another note, I would later sign up to do a 10 week course with Anthea when I realised I could do with a bit of mentoring as I shifted all my focus to Scribe. There’s a story that outlines how all that came to be, here. Again, if I didn’t already know Anthea, hadn’t seen the quality of content she put out and her ability to teach business owners, would I have ever got on board? Possibly not. It’s all in the power of connections.
No doubt you’ve got plenty of your own stories- maybe you landed a great new job because of somebody you chatted to at the races or in a corporate box at the game or even at your favourite bar on a Friday evening. Or maybe you met your spouse/ significant other because of your friend or your sibling or somebody they knew? That’s before even talking about the people you meet through business networking…
If you stop and think about it for a moment, how many circumstances and relationships do you enjoy in this present day all because of that one person you met?
Just this weekend gone, I went to birthday drinks for an old friend I’ve known 15 years. I met him through another friend, who I’ve known 16 years- and we met out the front of North Sydney station because he wanted to know which bus took us to the footy? Through him I have another mutual friend who lives a couple of suburbs away, and we’re throwing a surprise party for him this weekend (don’t mention the surprise party. I did once- but I think I got away with it). We’re all going kart racing a couple of weeks from now- and the catalyst was one random encounter on a winters’ afternoon back in 2004…
A single connection can have a huge trajectory on your business success, a single meeting can inspire a transformation you didn’t expect to see in the entirety of your life.
My current role as Group Leader for bX Gosford is no different. I went to a day seminar event hosted by bX Director Matt Alderton back in August 2018 in Sydney’s west and (afterwards) we were all in the downstairs bar of the venue when Matt mentioned his interest in opening a group up on the Central Coast. Fast forward a year later and Jason (a colleague and previous client of mine) called up to tell me bX was starting a group in Gosford, and would I be interested in coming on board as the Group Leader? I didn’t need to say I’d think about it!
It should be clear by now that I’m big on connections, and through our fortnightly Gosford events (or our weekly online meetings) I’m always looking out for who I can connect people with. Who is (maybe) just one introduction away from achieving that big outcome they’re looking for? Who might be one connection short of seeing real transformation, and could I make it happen for them?
Yet, I also realise that despite my knowledge and ability when it comes to turning out copy for clients, I’m not always that person who can help a lead in getting the results they’re after. But- if I’m not that person- I have no problem admitting it to them! Because instead, I just refer them onto somebody else who I know is a better fit-
This means that just by talking to me, people are putting themselves in a win-win situation. Because if I can’t help you to achieve your desired business outcomes, I’ll connect you with somebody who can. So (obviously) I’m happy to include that as another one of my Big 5 Guarantees.
So, if you’re looking for assistance or advice and you want a guaranteed win-win, then contact me.
And of course a big shout-out to everybody I mentioned in this article- even if your actions seemed small, they’ve all played their part in a bigger picture.
Life’s like a box of chocolates- you never know what you’re gonna get
– Forrest Gump
Am I that transparent? I want you, I need you- oh baby, oh baby
– 10 Things I Hate About You
Have you ever bought a discount flight and then paid more on top for all the unseen extras? Or been in the U.S, seen an item listed for a great price and then been stung when the local sales tax was stacked on top of that seductive sticker price?
Or maybe you’ve met somebody and while their words told you one thing, you could tell they weren’t being up-front with you. Just little giveaways (or ‘tells’) that revealed all. Recently I read a book, titled What Everybody Is Saying (Joe Navarro) and it delves into the minor details of how to read a person beyond the mere words they’re speaking to you.
Because you might ‘know’ a person doesn’t line up with how they’re trying to present themselves or that a particular offer sounds too good to be true, but when you think about it, what’s the real frustration?
The real frustration is that we’ve already got enough things to think about. Enough issues that require our ongoing attention and energy. Having to decipher what somebody’s real intentions are or what you’re really getting when you sign up means you have to devote more of your time (and energy) to being on-guard and minimising the chances of being stung.
If you ask me, life is too short! Call it simplistic, but whenever I pay for a service or a product, I want to know exactly what I’m getting- and it seems like I’m not the only one. Places like Dominos now allow you to see your pizza being prepared in the store before it’s delivered- so you know exactly what you’re going to see when you open that piping hot carton.
After all, when you know what you’re getting straight up then it’s easier to make a decision- yay or nay? At least if a service is expensive, we know it’s expensive from the start. If a process is complicated and time-consuming, then you sign up understanding it’s not a simple case of click your fingers and get the result.
I still remember the day I walked in and signed up for the Fight Like A Proexperience back in 2016 and Gavin talked about how over the coming 10 weeks there’d be times I’d feel like quitting, but that (ultimately) if I got to Fight Night it’d be one of the best things I’d ever done and I’d want to go back and do it again- like plenty of other guys who returned to train here at the gym…
Without giving too much away (because you should read the article for yourself), I was in the midst of a difficult year and I’m generally a persistent person. I figured wanting to give up was for men weaker in spirit than myself. I also assumed Gavin talking up Fight Night as being “one of the best things I’d ever done” was just his pitch.
Yet ultimately- he was correct on both counts. Not only did I return to the gym to train again, I stepped into the ring once more at the next Fight Night. It turned out that I got what I signed up for (and then some) even if I didn’t know it yet…
As human beings we’re attracted to certainty because it’s part of our survival mechanism. We want to know that water is wet, sand is gritty, sugar is sweet and that if we stand in the middle of the road then our day isn’t going to end well. Small elements of certainty like this make it easier (mentally and emotionally) to focus on longer-term decisions that are important to our survival.
If we do get the unexpected, we want it to be something good. Like the afternoon when, just a couple of weeks short of my 10th birthday and (intending to hit the street in the new billy-cart I’d built with my dad) I walked out into the living room to see both my parents sitting there with the Scalextric slot-car set I’d been wanting for ages. It was an early birthday present (truth is, my dad was keen to have a crack at it himself) and to date it remains arguably the best birthday present I ever received…
But back to what we expect as a customer-
Ideally, we want to know exactly what we’re getting and how much we’re going to pay for it, right? If it’s a product then we want to know the materials, the quality, the finish, the size, the weight, the features and the price. If it’s a service then we want to know what’s going to be done, how long it’s going to take, the results and (yet again) the price.
So when I was brainstorming what kind of guarantees to offer clients, making transparency one of those guarantees didn’t need a second thought. What it means is that before you pay the invoice (let alone receive the invoice) we’ve discussed the proposal with you. You know what service you’re getting, the timeframe it’s due to be completed in and how much it’s going to cost in total-
So if you’re thinking about getting sales or marketing copy written and you want the peace of mind that comes with certainty and knowing what to expect, thencontact us
Let me take you back to the occasion of my mothers’ 40th birthdayparty–
Now obviously, your 40th birthday is a big occasion and (while I haven’t experienced it yet) it’s considered a milestone like any year where you turn another decade older. So for Mum’s 40th she’d organised a medieval themed birthday party, complete with a spit-roast in the backyard, horseback rides and (best of all): a jumping castle
It was that last one I looked forward to the most. Having a fairground attraction in your own backyard for a day seems like the most awesome thing ever when you’re 9 years old, the only thing better would be discovering they were taking apart The Demon from Wonderland and coming to set it up at your place (but then again maybe not, as I was scared of rollercoasters as a kid and I regret the rides I missed out on, but that’s another story)…
So the weeks counted down and then at last, here it was: the day of Mum’s 40th birthday party…
The caterers arrived and set up the spit roast, the horse float showed up and a white horse clopped through our side gate and into the backyard, family and friends came around to our place dressed like the cast from a Robin Hood movie- while I eagerly waited for the jumping castle, which would arrive at any moment, surely…
The afternoon drew on and still no sign of any jumping castle. By this stage even my parents were getting impatient, calling the hire company up for a please explain? According to the hire company, their guy was on the road and meant to be turning up with the jumping castle soon.
Half an hour ticked by. Then another half hour. The birthday cake was brought out, Mum blew out the candles and speeches were made. Yet still no sign of the jumping castle. Eventually Mum called the company back and passed on a message, simply saying “Boy very upset”
As I heard her say this I cringed at her exaggerating for dramatic effect. I wasn’t balling my eyes out. I wasn’t sitting in a corner and sulking. There was cake to eat, a horse to ride, cousins and the family friends’ kids to take for hot laps around the backyard in my old red Little Tykes wagon. But sure- I was as disappointed as any 9 year old kid would be when they get promised a jumping castle and then it never shows up…
To their credit, the hire company did the reasonable thing and (once it was clear today there’d be no bouncing) let us have the jumping castle for another day and refunded us. I could live with that.
So the alternate date was arranged, I invited my friends over and then come that day when I would- we all would- all get to jump around at last?
No sign of it. A call to the company again led to them calling the home of this guy who was meant to be delivering it. His wife apparently said he was at footy training and then meant to be dropping the jumping castle off. I don’t know what happened after footy training, but that jumping castle never showed up. Strike 2…
After this point, the company boss spoke to Mum on the phone and said they’d now give us the jumping castle for an entire week. It would be delivered by somebody else, as they sacked the bloke who’d let us down twice now.
Looking back now, it almost feels like the premise for a depressing Simpsons episode: bloke still manages to fail at a job that allows him to be somewhat loose with punctuality= gets the sack. I wonder what the rest of that guys’ backstory was? I probably wasn’t the only person he’d let down because in my experience, if somebody is letting you down on small things then they’re probably letting other people down on much bigger things as well…
But in the end, the jumping castle arrived- a giant inflatable giraffe, head popping up behind the roof of our house and wobbling around all week, visible from the end of our street. My friends, cousins and the neighbourhood kids all came around and yeah, it was cool being able to come home, go out to the backyard, turn the generator on and bounce around until you were exhausted!
Whether it’s waiting for a jumping castle to show up at your house, a flight to leave or a team member to submit their contribution for an important group assignment, being kept waiting is massively frustrating, isn’t it? Because somebody else’s incompetence or lack of care means you end up paying for it, whether you miss out on the fun, miss out on an important connection or miss an opportunity to achieve greatness.
And nobody wants to miss out like that, do they?
It’s for this reason that here at Scribe Copywriting, we’re committed to efficiency. So much so that it’s one of our 5 Guarantees to every project we take on. I’ve edited brochure content, written client emails and turned them over in the space of 24 hours to help clients meet important deadlines. There’s an added cost involved with tight deadlines like those, of course- but it pays to be punctual.
So whether you’re in party hire, property development or providing an outstanding service people pay you top dollar for- you’re assured that the copy you need is in your hands when you need it-
If punctuality is your prime objective, thencontact us.
It’s amazing to think just how popular ‘Fawlty Towers’ remains, considering they made just 13 episodes. Yet it was the characters and some of the lines that became part of comedy folklore:
“Dont mention the war- I did once, but I think I got away with it!”
“What are you looking at? Get on with your meals!”
“About your Waldorf salad- well I’m sorry but it appears that we’re all out of waldorfs.”
My favourite line was in one particular episode where Basil (on the verge of losing it) punches his open hand and says “Right- I think I’ll go and hit some guests!” For me it was the visual of Basil storming into the dining room then indiscriminately punching hotel patrons as they sat and ate that cracked me up.
Yet certain episodes were equally frustrating as they were funny, with one prime example being an episode titled ‘Communication Problems‘. In it, one of the hotel guests is a deaf woman named Miss Richards, and what made her so annoying wasn’t just that she kept forgetting to turn her hearing aid on. It was her manner as well- overly demanding, uptight, loud monotone voice, the stick up her arse type. You know the sort…
Poor communicators are so frustrating because they don’t just make life more difficult for themselves. Everybody they come into contact with risks having their time, energy and yes- money- wasted as result. Looking back, I can think of a few examples of this from my own life:
Story #1: The Bi-Polar Property Managers…
It was my 1st year studying in Brisbane and I lived in a student accomodation place where (at the end of the university year) I’d cleared out my stuff and stored it in the flat, because I was moving down the hallway to the bigger (and now vacant) room when I came back for the new semester. Now as you know, part of moving out of your rental dwelling is that you’re expected to clean it before you vacate- which I did. I vacuumed the carpet, dusted and wiped down the windowsills and desktops, cleaned the bathroom from top to bottom and gave the mirrors a polish as well. With that out of the way, I vacated the flat, went home for the summer holidays and (the following February) I returned, moving into my new room. But in my 2nd year there, I noticed something…
Because while the complex I lived in had been designed as student flats (and titled as such), I began noticing that amongst the fellow residents I saw daily there were fewer students in their late teens or twenties and more people who’d be classed as mature age students- mature aged students with kids- if they were studying at all. Now while I can’t prove anything, I’ve got a suspicion that body corporate wanted to push the uni students out and turn it into a residence aimed at low-income families, figuring they’d be less trouble for the same rent…
If this is what they were doing, I’d have no problem with it. Just be up-front about it, and at least you’d know where you stood. But here’s what happened-
To keep it as short and sweet as I possibly can, let me break it down for you:
a) It came to the end of the year and one of the property managers (we’ll call her Nadine) told me that while I was gone over the summer, the flats may be rented out to other tenants and so there was no guarantee I’d be in the same flat when I returned.
b) I asked where I could store my possessions for the time being, and Nadine said to leave them in the storage space under the flat, accessible through a lockable side-door next to the carport. So away I went, hauling my gear out of my room, downstairs and into this storage space.
c) I was about half way through when Nadine saw me and said I couldn’t leave my stuff there. I tried pointing out this was what she’d told me to do just the day before, but now apparently that wasn’t ok for reasons I’ve forgotten since. Point was, she now said I’d need to move my gear up into the so-called conference room of the complex office building. I say so-called because they never held conferences in there and it didn’t look likely any time soon. It was essentially a vacant room, housing old furniture ready for the dump.
d) So I moved my belongings a second time, from the storage space up to the conference room. But finally, my room was empty- which I proceeded to clean top to bottom just as I’d always done when vacating. I packed the stuff I was taking home into my large grey suitcase, dropped my keys into the slot of the mailbox outside the front office and headed into town, ready to catch the train home early the following morning. At last, my holidays had started and I could relax. Or so I thought…
e) The following afternoon I was sitting back in my comfy seat on the passenger express when my phone buzzed. It was Nadine on the other end and she was irate about the fact my personal belongings now sat there in the conference room. I said that was where she’d told me to put them (sound familiar?) but now *apparently* this had never been discussed. On top of that? She also complained about the state I’d left my room in, claiming it was “unacceptable”. I pointed out that I’d cleaned my room just the same as I’d done the previous year before vacating and nobody had said a thing about it, to which Nadine claimed that hadn’t been left in an acceptable condition either (I have a theory about how this shake-down works but that’s for another time). She said I wouldn’t be allowed back to live there in the new year and, realising it was pointless trying to reason with an unreasonable person, I hung up.
Now, maybe she was right? Maybe I hadn’t left my room in a state deemed to be acceptable from a tenant? But even if that was the case, they had an entire year to say something about it, to say “Look, the condition you left your room in when you vacated wasn’t acceptable and you’ll need to do a better job next time if you want to continue living here”. I would’ve asked for clarification, got a checklist from them and ensured their expectations were met. But they never said a word. Being a lowly STUDENT, I suspect my name had already been marked down, long before that December evening when I vacated the premises…
So the following February (having found a new place just down the street in the interim) I returned to the old premises and began moving my stuff out of the conference room. One of the caretakers (we’ll call her Rosie) saw me as I worked away and said “Do you know how much trouble you’ve caused?” Arguing with a complete idiot is a waste of time, so I brushed her off, saying “I didn’t mean to cause trouble for anybody” and continued my relocation…
If just reading all that frustrated you, then imagine how it was for me!So much trouble, and it all could’ve been avoided with some simple, clear communication on the other sides’ behalf.
As I’m sure you’re well aware, customers aren’t exempt from the curse of bad communication, either.
Story #2: The Client Who Needed To Consult A Dictionary…
Years ago I was writing website copy for a client, on behalf of a mutual contact. There was a section they wanted written that was (essentially) a straightforward FAQ section, nothing fancy. I asked the client directly what they were looking for (as you do). They sent me an email with a link to the FAQ section of a company website from the same industry, and he told me to “take this and replicate it”
Replicate: To make an exact copy of, or reproduce.
Check out the definition for yourself. So I replicated the FAQ’s from this other company website, pasted it into a new document for my clients’ web-page and then edited it (where I saw fit) to make it as straightforward and simple to understand as possible. Then I sent it off to the client…
A day or so later, I got an email from the contact who’d introduced me to this client. The client had emailed him, ranting and raving about how what I’d done was “plagiarism” and that my contact should demand a refund on his behalf, etc etc. I told my contact I’d be happy to chat with this guy on the phone and straighten things out, but that request was never followed up.
As far as I’m concerned, in business and in relationships, poor communicators are welcome to go elsewhere.I only have a finite amount of time and energy and I intend to invest both where it’s actually worth the trade-off.
I’m sure you’ve got your own horror stories about people who drove you up the wall and wasted your time/ energy/ money (or even the trifecta) through their poor communication skills- whether a colleague or a client, boss or body corporate. I get it-
That’s why here at Scribe, one of the 5 Guarantees we offer you is clear communication. This means nothing is left to guesswork. When we write a brand new piece of copy or edit existing content, we explain the thinking behind what we do- and ensure that before we start, we’re as clear as possible on what the client’s vision is, what they expect.
From start to finish, we keep you posted every step of the way regarding the progress of your project. Because good communication costs nothing.
So if you want effective copywriting that pulls in new leads, gets clicks, gets new customers AND comes with clear communication? Then contact us today!
It’s estimated that by 2021, any business who doesn’t have a website is going to be as good as dead- regardless of whether they can operate as normal or not, per government-mandated regulations.
So now that’s out of the way- while you obviously need a website, you also need copy that actually works. It can’t just be a placeholder- it has to lead your website visitors on to the next step, whatever you intend for that to be:
Because it’s nice to refer people to a professional-looking, modern website, but without the right message you’re missing out on a tonne of potential sales- and who wants to be losing out on that?
So if you’d really (rather than getting someone like me to take care of it for you) prefer to go ahead and write your own copy, fine. But for your sake, make sure you follow these guidelines:
#1- Who’s your audience?
Primarily, your answer should be based upon either:
a) Who comprises 80% of your customers, or
b) Who are the most valuable 20% of your customers
Once you have a clear idea of who they are, then your website copy AND your entire content strategy should be directed at these people and created with them in mind. This is what you need to establish before worrying about any of the other points I’m about to address here…
#2- How are you going to get their attention?
Because the secret is making sure you have an attention-grabbing headline, as I discussed here There’s really no point taking the time to write amazing website copy if you haven’t created a knockout headline where necessary, making it easy for your website visitors to find the information they’re looking for or even read the info they weren’t looking for, simply because the headline caught their attention and on some level made them think “Hey- that’s interesting!”
With the right headline, even your cold-emails get read:
#3- Be careful with the negatives
The emotion of fear is a great seller and if you don’t believe me, just watch the news any given night. Drama, scandal, threats to our daily way of life all presented conveniently in fresh waves each night. The boogeymen and forces of evil might change depending on what news sources you go to, but it’s always that same core emotion they’re tapping into.
But here’s where you’ve got to be different: You’re selling people on your solution, not the problem (see the negative I put in there- ironic, huh?) Primarily, you want people to associate your brand with solutions, good times, relief, pride- think all the positive emotions that come from delivering whatever outcome you deliver to your customers. If you want a textbook example of how to do this, just take a look at any insurance company’s advertising campaign and how they sell to you based upon a solution to your problems:
#4- Remember- it’s all about them
More times than I care to recall, one of the early things I’ve picked up on with a clients’ website is how much of their copy refers to “our customers” or their clients in the third-person. This is perfectly acceptable when you’re relating case studies of past customers, but for the most part your web copy should be aimed directly at the browser- think of words like ‘you’, ‘your’, ‘you’re’ and ‘yours’.
It’s going to make the website audience feel a stronger connection with the message the business is delivering, which in turn improves their response rate and means that new business is all theirs.
Compare that sentence with this one, and see how it feels:
It’s going to make your audience feel a stronger connection with the message you’re delivering, which in turn improves your response rate and means that new business is all yours.
#5- Relate to their experiences/ emotions
While your copy might be technically, factually and grammatically sound, if it doesn’t appeal to the experiences and emotions of your audience, then you’re going to lose them. Remember just two points back where we looked at tapping into their ‘fear’ emotion? Well think about all the other emotions you can tap into as well. How often do you remember exactly what somebody said to you or something you read, as opposed to how it made you feel? I expand on that idea here
What language or use of jargon is going to appeal directly to your audience? Because that’s how you should write your web copy, so they feel as if you’re on the same level as them. A while back I spoke about this. Essentially, this is how you make a great connection with your audience. The trick is to present information in a manner that they’re going to understand (and relate to) best.
Essentially: keep it simple, stupid. Say what needs to be said on your website and use the fewest amount of words you can. Again, you want to make it as easy as possible for your audience to read through and then take action how you want them to (more on that, shortly). But first:
#8- Link Me Up
Be sure to also include hyperlinks in your website copy- this is not only great for your search engine rankings, but it also provides a better user experience for your site visitors. These can either be links to information to do with your business (internal links) or links to information that have to do with a subject that’s relevant to your business (external links). You’ll see I’ve included both examples right here in this very article! Internal links are useful for helping your site visitors to develop a deeper understanding of your business as a whole (and what you can provide for them) while external links are great for helping to establish your credibility. So include links to both!
#9- Clear Call To Action
There’s no point going to the effort of writing all that amazing content on your site if there’s no clear call to action. This means you need to do both of 2 things:
1- Present a clear call to action that persuades your website visitors to do what you wish for them to do in a given section of the website (contact you or your sales team, place an order, subscribe, buy now etc.)
2. Present your CTA so that it’s clear what happens next. Don’t be vague about what the next course of action is. If you have a free download that users can get if they enter their details and join your database, don’t just say ‘Free download here’- say something like ‘Enter your details, join our amazing database and get your complimentary copy of ________’.
Your website should have at least one call to action on every page, even the pages where you aren’t necessarily selling something.
By following these 9 steps you’re well on your way to producing good web copy, whether you’re building a new site or updating an existing one. However, because I’m in a generous mood, here’s a BONUS tip for you:
So you’ve got a website. Great! But what else? What’s next? Do you have an email funnel to back up the free download you’re offering? Do you publish regular blog articles to your website so that one-time visitors want to come back regularly and see if you’ve got anything new for them to read? Depending on how people interact with your site, you want to plan what you’d like to happen next, which itself is dependant on the decision your audience makes:
Subscribe to your database: What happens after that?
Order from you online: What happens after that?
Browse your site then leave: How can you get them to return?
For a truly outstanding website, you need more than words and links on a few pages- you need a plan of action to go with it so you maximise your audience, your leads and your customers.
So I wish you luck with all of this but remember- if you’d like some professional feedback you could always make it easy for yourself and contact me
As a member of the bX business network, I have access to countless webinars spanning several years, featuring experts from a variety of backgrounds and industries who share their particular secrets to success.
I’m a “whatever it takes” kind of guy, so I’ve got into the habit of putting an hour aside each weekday to go back through the catalogue of past webinars, watch one, take notes/ screenshots and compile it into an easy-reference Word Document. I did this with the fantastic 10-Part Tony Robbins series Time Of Your Life that (in itself) was a big catalyst in Scribe becoming more than just a business concept- but that’s a story for another time…
So I was watching a webinar by bX Director Matt Alderton, titled ‘Preparing For Your Best Year Ever’- and he spends 45 minutes or so breaking down the art of goal-setting. I listened, took notes (and screenshots) and put it into my Word document- but in doing so, it reminded me of a day a few years back where I changed how I defined success. Here’s how it came about…
See, I’d recently celebrated a birthday, and as is customary, I’d taken a day out to go and brainstorm my goals for the next 12 months. While Matt recommends doing this at the end of the year, I prefer to do it when my birthday comes around. As people get older they begin to dread every looming birthday more. But as I see it, why dread the inevitable when you could celebrate another year of opportunity in front of you? So I make it a time for appreciating the last 12 months’ worth of milestones and to devise a plan of action for the next 12 months.
This means I unplug from social media, get outdoors, reflect- and strategise. I always get pumped for the year ahead, full of anticipation for the new outcomes I’d listed and committed myself to achieving.
But this time around?
I was thinking of the sacrifices I’d made. The time spent working solo, pressuring myself to do stuff barely noticed by the outside world. The amount of things left solely up to me to organise and put into place every day. Sure, it was all done with a clear destination in mind. Yet…
I was putting a line through these outcomes but feeling no particular sense of pride. No rush as I achieved another ‘Mission Accomplished’. As a result, I’d begun to wonder:
Is the juice worth the squeeze?
So here I was this particular Monday morning, having freshly clicked over another year, aboard a city-bound train, mountain bike swaying gently at my side, iPad and helmet stuffed into my Kathmandu backpack. After arriving in the city, I spent hours riding through the parks and beachside suburbs on a clear and sunny day, as all along I pondered:
What exactly do I want to achieve over the next 12 months?
Then it dawned on me:
I was unsatisfied because I’d come to define success by what I did, rather than who I became.
I’d become too engrossed in a legalistic, paint-by-numbers, cross-it-out view of achievement. It’s all well and good to look at your list of action items and see that you did a, b and c. But, more than anything-
I needed to pay closer attention to my attitude.
After all, attitude is the fuel that powers achievement.
The problem is that we’ve been encouraged to judge success simply bysurface layer metrics, with no regard for the underlying story:
How many followers have we attracted?
How many subscribers do we have?
How many people have watched our videos or heard of us?
How much did we bank last financial year?
Where do we live?
What car/s do we drive?
Who do we know on a first-name basis?
What events have we attended and who else was there?
Where do we get to go on holiday?
These can all be indicators of some forms of success, sure- but they don’t mean that you are a success. Imagine you had all of these great things disappear overnight- what would you be left with, then?
Because if we can’t truthfully say the following:
We enjoy our work and the difficult, frustrating parts are worth it
Our attitude brings us fulfilment
We’re confident we’ll reflect on the person we are now (one day) and be proud of us, even if we didn’t always make the right decision
Then success is being done wrong.
See, it’s one thing to do what needs to be done and simply to go through the motions-
But becoming that individual who does more than tick a box, who takes pride in what they do and who they become in the process? That’s next level stuff. It’s the kind of quality people can’t help but sit up and take notice of.
Succeeding is an event. But being a success is a state of mind.
Succeeding is temporary. But being a success is permanent.
Succeeding shows you stretch the limits. But success shows you persisted.
Succeeding gives you the chance to learn. But success continues learning.
I’m not sharing this to stand on some platform and boast of “enlightenment”. I share simply because I remember when I defined success the wrong way- a way that doesn’t necessarily equal fulfilment and won’t save you from a sense of imposter syndrome or victories that feel hollow.
So I defined success wrong, and I’d begun feeling burnt out. Remembering what it felt to be truly inspired was like the memory of a romance full of passion that’d since grown cool and practical. I wondered if the juice was really worth the squeeze and if it wasn’t, then what was the point?
But this particular afternoon- revelation came:
Because a change in attitude would lead to me accomplishing things beyond a mere list. So instead of defining the coming 12 months by a list of accomplishments, I had to scale it down to just a few, intangible things. In the end, I was left with just these 3 questions:
What do I enjoy doing?
What attitude do I want to embody?
Who would I be proud of, as a person?
From there, it was actually fairly easy to plot out the next 12 months, based around just those 3 questions.
Attitude is the fuel that powers achievement.
So I rode out the rest of the afternoon, grabbed a late lunch and then boarded the evening train home, weary but content- and with clarity about my future.
So I encourage you to ask yourself these three questions for yourself. Get clear on them. Make your answer the foundation of your goals and your vision. Then go forward.
Idon’t know, I mean…winning has a price…and leadership has a price. So I pulled people along when they didn’t want to be pulled. I challenge people when they don’t want to be challenged. And I earned that right, because my team-mates who came after me, they didn’t endure all the things I endured…Once you join the team you live to a certain standard that I played the game- and I won’t take any less. Now if that means I had to go in there and get in your ass a little bit, then I did that. You ask all my team-mates: “One thing about (me) was (I) never asked me to do something, that he didn’t fuckin’ do”. When people see this, they’re going to say “Well, he wasn’t really a nice guy, he may have been a tyrant…well that’s you. Because you never won anything. I wanted to win, but I wanted them to be a part of that as well. I don’t have to do this, I’m only doing it because…it is who I am…that’s how I play the game…that was my mentality. If you don’t want to play that way? Don’t play that way.
– Michael Jordan
Last November marked 7 years since Scribe Copywriting became a registered business...
7 years since I completed the NEIS course. 7 years since I took on my first ever client (a personal trainer named Chris, and I still have a copy of the final draft I sent him, as I do with every other piece of client work I’ve ever written)…
Then something happened recently that made me think of this milestone, and I was quite flattered by it: an old associate of mine, a guy who’s been in business longer than I have (since he was a Primary school kid, in fact!) reached out and asked if I would step on board in a mentoring role with him? It’s not one-way traffic, because while there’s a lot I can help him with, there’s much he can offer me when it comes to business ideas.
This got me thinking…
After 7 years in business (and Scribe is the first business venture I ever founded) what are the biggest things that have stood out to me? If a young entrepreneur reached out tomorrow and asked if I would help to guide them, what are the lessons I would impart on them?
When I stop and I think about that, these are the things I would hammer home to save them the time it took me to discover it for myself:
#1- Be Specific
When I started out, I figured the easiest way to attract (and build) a steady client-base was to provide every service I could think of. So I took a “Yes we can!” attitude to every lead who came my way.
The problem with doing this?
I spread myself too thin. In doing so, I held myself back from focusing on an area of speciality and developing that craft. I lacked a unique identity. I could have spent more time getting better at providing those services I enjoyed the most- built a reputation based on that- and got paid more for it as a result!
If you narrow your demographic, you lose leads in the process. I’ve turned potential clients away because when I looked at what they were doing and found out what their goals were, I realised I wasn’t the ideal fit and disqualified myself. I missed out on the sale. But I gained the time and energy to instead focus on the important stuff- whether that was working with my ideal clients or working to attract more of my ideal clients.
All I can say is I have no regrets about changing tack with this, and my vision is clearer. My goals more straightforward.
#2- Choose Quality Over Quantity
I’ve long held to the belief that life is too short to go for what I don’t really want. Like if your heart’s not in it and doing the work to get it feels pointless, then chances are the reward isn’t that great for you. So why bother?
When I started out, I wanted to earn as much in a short space of time as possible, but realised after a while that I was sacrificing an opportunity to become the best, for the sake of making the most. So I narrowed my focus and it proved to be a better usage of my time and energy with better returns!
Before you think of how you could scale your operations up, consider what you already have in your possession. Take note of your existing customers, and ask how you could provide more for them- especially if it increases the opportunity to get more testimonials, better referrals and more money as a result of this.
When you’re focused on delivering more value first and foremost, you take more pride in your work, you do better work and the numbers take care of themselves anyway. Quality over quantity, every time!
#3- Meeting, Greeting & Mingling
In the very beginning, I asked a mentor what my top priority should be in order to drum up business? They said networking, and this answer seemed unusual- backward even. It was 2013, and didn’t modern marketing mean you should have a great website, a strong social media presence and plenty of videos to highlight how awesome you were?
But I took their word for it and so off I headed to this business breakfast or that event, loaded up with business cards and ready to chat. Looking back now, it was a great idea. Sure, a lot of business these days is carried out online, and by next year its’ predicted that any company who doesn’t have a website is as good as dead in the water-
Yet, the need for human interaction hasn’t been phased out by technology. We still want to connect. Think about it, who do you trust more?
a) Somebody you’ve only heard about online, or
b) Somebody you’ve met, whether they were introduced to you by somebody you knew or you’d never heard of them until your paths crossed
I’ve picked up new clients just through chatting to the right person down atthe pub. I’ve picked up new clients because I met them through a networking event. I’ve picked up new clients through a referral from somebody I’ve sold to in the past, or somebody I’ve never directly done business with but who knows what I specialise in and is happy to recommend me.
I don’t know how tech-savvy you are or how polished and up-to-date your online marketing presence is. Neither do I care- you’ve got to be meeting and greeting. If business networking is still good enough for the likes of Richard Branson, then it’s good enough for you, too.
#4- Just Turn Up
Looking back, I notice how I’ve often found success or discovered breakthrough at a moment where I wasn’t expecting it. Either I hadn’t expected a lead to green-light a proposal I’d sent them, or I’d woken up without any sense today was going to be anything special.
As the Scouts motto says: Be prepared. There are times I felt unprepared or not in the mood to go to some event I signed up for. The day came and there was other stuff I’d prefer to be doing. But I went anyway…and on several of those occasions, I either learned something new and useful, or I was introduced to new people or opportunities that came in very handy for my business.
To become great, you’ve got to be consistent. Do the work, go to that event and be seen- even when it seems like nothing you do is making a difference. Don’t die wondering. The people who turn up and fail are still better than the ones who don’t turn up because they thought they would fail. Talk is worth $0. But action (ultimately) delivers real results. Remember that…
#5- Make Connections And Share Ideas
“It is a well-known fact that a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery. It is also a well-known fact that an individual battery will provide energy in proportion to the number and capacity of the cells it contains. The brain functions in a similar fashion. This accounts for the fact that some brains are more efficient than others, and leads to this significant statement- a group of brains coordinated (or connected) in a spirit of harmony, will provide more thought-energy than a single brain, just as a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery“
– Think & Grow Rich
You have great ideas that other people need to hear. But other people have great ideas you also need to hear. This is where networking and finding great referral partners comes in very handy. Instead of doing the work of one horse, you find a team of horses who make it much easier to pull that load.
Yet when you’re brainstorming ideas or troubleshooting in the presence of other people- especially those who understand your business and have shown their worth- metaphorically your thinking goes from just one horse to a team of horses- and discovering that brilliant new idea or breakthrough becomes much easier…
#6- Make Every Day Count
I heard somebody a little while back lament that “the days are long, but the decades are short”. The older you get, the more you realise the truth behind this.
I can’t see the point in wistfully lamenting how quick time goes or how short life is- because the fact is that, to our knowledge, life is the longest thing we’ll ever experience.
So in light of that, the most you can do is to make every day count. At the end of every day, if you can reflect, think back and recognise that you did something of value- be it learning a skill, becoming better at your craft or having a valuable interaction with somebody who is important to you- then you made it count.
In business, I know I made the day count when I look back and through the day I worked on client projects, wrote more of my own content (be it a draft for an article idea, a video or an e-mail) or I spoke on the phone with referral partners or business connections. On top of that, if I went to the gym or headed out for a walk or took part in some other past-time that was more productive than just sitting in front of a screen and contributing nothing of worth- then sure, I made that day count.
We can’t stop time from marching forward as it always does. But we can start making every day count for something- and doing it consistently. Then one day we’ll look back with few (if any) regrets.
To wrap up this piece, I want to confess something here-
When I started Scribe as a venture, I only viewed it as a short-term career. My real goal was still to get into film and TV, especially TV. I’d done 3 years at uni, completed my bachelors’ degree and I had ideas for creative projects I wanted to pitch. THAT was how I’d make a name for myself, and copywriting was just going to be my flexible “side gig”, something to pay the bills in the meantime…
But something changed. Too long to list here in full, but I started wondering if getting into film & TV was really worth it? Growing channels like YouTube made me realise that much of what I’d envisaged could in fact be achieved by this new platform, without the traditional constraints of network television. On top of that?
This whole copywriting thing suited me more than I expected…
Because in turning up
In learning time-management and self-discipline
I was learning more about myself than I’d imagined!
I remember doing the same with Scribe. I made the decision that whatever it took to build up this business how I wanted it to be- with maximum satisfaction in what I did and how I did it, with a healthy balance sheet to match- I would do it.
So whether you’re a start-up or an established business, whatever you envisage when you dare to dream?
Looking back now, after 7+ years, I think of how there was so much I was yet to realise when I started out. A website, a set of business cards, a signed document from ASIC and a registered ABN and it’s developed into this?
But for me, the story continues to be written. There’s always more to learn…
So it looks as though maybe (just maybe) we’re now over the crest of the lockdowns and the economic halt the COVID pandemic brought us all to–
Businesses are opening up again, the footy is back (with strong rumours the crowds are soon to follow) and just this last week I even got to enjoy that dimly remembered, pre-March 2020 pastime of enjoying a cold one and mingling down at my local. Bliss!
All things considered, we look set to enjoy something else too: a renewed surge in customer activity. And if times have been tougher than usual for you these past couple of months, then this is welcome news! However- as the boy scouts motto says: Be Prepared.
It follows thatif you want to be ready for this coming surge and fully capitalise on it, you need to have the right strategy in place when it comes to your business marketing. To find the right answers, then you need to ask yourself the right questions, and be doing it NOW-
But there’s no need to panic, because I’m about to share the cheat sheet with you here. As the world begins to open up once more, and people are looking to buy from you once again, THESE are the questions you need to be asking:
#1- What do people associate your business with, as a brand?
In other words- what values and attributes do your leads and your customers think of when they think of your business?
And more to the point- does this match what you want your brand to be associated with?
#2- When your target audience thinks of your industry, do you come to mind?
Or is it somebody else who they’re associating with what you sell or what you do?
Because it doesn’t matter how superior your product is or how much better your service is, if your ideal leads are thinking of somebody else who’s in the same business as you- and going to them instead as a result- that’s x amount of dollars you’re missing out on. Every single time.
However…it doesn’t have to be this way….
With the right content strategy, you can become the #1, front and centre whenever your leads think of your industry….
#3- Do you have a clear process of converting your leads into sales?
If you don’t, then every time a prospective customer reaches out to you or your team, it’s really a game of chance. Some might buy from you and that’s great- but how many are slipping through your fingers, simply because you aren’t clear on your steps to conversion?
If you were clear on the steps to conversion, you could boil this down to a process, and following this process you’d be converting far more leads than you are currently. With this surge of customer activity incoming, the difference between leaving it to chance and having a process in place could end up equalling hundreds of thousands of dollars difference to your bottom line…
So needless to say- it literally pays to get clear on this!
#4- What should you be sharing with your target audience online?
The way to become a prominent voice of authority in your industry and make a connection with your target audience is to be sharing information that’s relevant to them- but also telling them about your business, and sharing your story. Which begs the question:
What information should you be sharing?
What are they going to find engaging, and what would be a waste of your time and energy to be talking about?
As I discussed recently, in 2020 publishing regular blog articles should be one of the top priorities (if not the #1 top priority) in any content strategy you implement, and with good reason. If you’re still not sure why this is, then take a look at these current stats:
#5- What should you be writing about, and how do you do it?
Once you’re sitting down, ready to brainstorm ideas then write them out and fashion them into your next article, a whole range of questions present themselves. These are all potential roadblocks to your creative flow and actually getting content out there:
What are you going to write your article about? More importantly, what does your target audience actually want to be hearing about?
How long should your article be- is it long enough, or are you waffling on too much with irrelevant details that’s going to bore your audience and risk them abandoning your article before they’re even halfway through?
Should you create an offer and include it in your article? Should you include a call to action in every article you publish- or is this too ‘pushy’ and an instant turn-off for your audience?
So there’s all these questions you’re asking yourself in the process of putting together that killer content strategy- and implementing it. Now if this all sounds too difficult, and the idea of publishing a regular blog seems like a mountainous workload too big to handle? Then I have some great news for you-
Because I’m going to show you how you can be pumping out your own, regular blog articles- following the same easy process I follow in order to consistently write articles just like this one, whether writing for my own blog or doing it for my clients…
On top of that? You’re also going to discover:
How to make your target audience see you as the voice of authority…
The 5-step process that converts your leads into sales…
What your target audience really wants to know- and how to identify what this is, regardless of what business you’re in…
How to write informative, entertaining and engaging articles that share your story- and sells you as THE “go-to” for your leads…
How to consistently publish great articles that get read, get likes, get commented on and get shared by your audience- and never get stuck for ideas ever again!
Plus lots more…
So if the idea of learning all of this interests you?
Then contact me today and register your interest in attending my upcoming Blogging- Stories That Sell workshop. The course is online, so you can learn how to write like a pro from the comfort of your own home! Because I want to ensure everybody who attends is given the individual attention they deserve, spots are strictly limited to just 20 attendees– so it pays to get in quick. I have previous attendees who got so much value out of this workshop that they’re coming back a second time to refine their skills even further- and who am I to deny them that opportunity?
Back in 2002, British R&B singer Craig David released a studio album titled ‘Born To Do It’. I wasn’t a Craig David fan (his music seemed more aimed at a female audience, who swooned over his butter smooth tones), although I’ve got to admit the song ‘7 Days’ was definitely catchy- and the video clip is surprisingly funny. This is a guy who walked into a London Burger King and announced everybody’s order was on him, so I guess he’s alright.
But what I found ambiguous was the title of his album: Born To Do It.
Do it with girls?
“Beavis- he was like- born to score! Heh heh heh.”
Or did he mean born to do it- like- born to be a recording artist? In which case, to say you were “born to do something” is a sign that you’re fairly confident in your ability and the path you’ve chosen, isn’t it?
This notion that we were “born to do” something- it can be a tricky one if you enjoy a number of things, and have a talent for several of them. Because which direction do you choose?
When I was younger, I felt like I had a number of options, and the older I grew the more I realised that in order to become exceptional at one thing, means you sacrifice your ability at other things. After all, Michael Jordan is remembered as a basketball star- not a baseball one…
Despite a number of options and interests, it’s Scribe that has become a living, breathing entity today. I’ve spoken previously about some key decisions I made that lead to this happening (The Night It All Lit Up To me)
But then I realised, looking back, I actually had several early glimpses of my future, which is now my present. I can still recall three particular occasions this happened. Yet in each case, I never had a moment where I thought “Maybe I should go down this road a bit more?” Unlike Ace Of Base, I didn’t see the sign- not yet, anyway:
Act 1: Carrots, Commercials & Class Kudos
It was the 90’s, and if you’re above a certain age you might recall the TV series ‘Money‘ that was on Channel 9. I didn’t watch it, but my parents had both the books from this series and I went through a period where I would leaf through them. Sure there was a lot of stuff that didn’t interest me (like talk about superannuation or interest rates) but then there was the stuff that did take my interest- like the chapter on the value of classic cars and the explanation as to why the current basketball card craze (which I touched on here) was a false economy. There was also a section on ways to save money at the supermarket…
It explained why the most commonly purchased items are always at the back of the store in separate isles, why the best value deals are not necessarily at eye-level and how come all the magazines are located at the checkout…
Now this might all seem straight-forward to you- but as a kid, it felt like a lightbulb moment. Like a code I had cracked.
I also remember a TV ad for Wonka Nerds that depicted a kid ingesting the flavour-packed candies and then playing games at Timezone and coming first on ‘Daytona 500’. Even at that impressionable age, I laughed at the suggestion that eating Nerds could increase your ability on a video game. So when a neighbour of mine (a few years younger, to be fair) made the comment one day that eating Nerds made you win ‘Daytona 500’ I tried not to laugh and I set him straight.
Then at school, my Year 6 teacher announced we were going to be studying advertising this term. With a fresh appreciation for the how’s and why’s of the subject, my ears pricked up. I don’t recall how interesting my classmates found this module, but it remains a fond memory from my last year of Primary school.
However, the best part was the assignment:
We had to create a TV advertisement for carrots, using the principles of advertising we’d learned thus far, and a select few concepts would be turned into actual video adverts. And as it turned out, my ad idea was shortlisted by our teacher. Maybe it’s because she recognised my inherent brilliance, or maybe she simply realised my advert would be easy to produce? Either way, next thing our class had been split up into groups and we were each lent camcorders to go and film our ads. So here’s what we did with mine:
First, we created a makeshift stage (from memory I think we just used a desk with another desk sitting sideways upon it for the backdrop, a piece of cardboard stuck to it saying ‘Vegetable Of The Year’.
Secondly, we got a piece of broccoli, a potato, a piece of cauliflower and a carrot. We took plastic eyes normally used for stuffed animals and stuck them into the vegetables, and used modified skewers for arms and legs.
We enjoyed an overwhelming turnout for the audition…
The premise was that the other three vegetables each took the stage and did a crap job of selling themselves (the broccoli began snoozing halfway through it’s opening line, the spud stuttered all over the place) and would get dragged off (via one of those ratchets you got from the Easter Show). Then the carrot comes on and absolutely nails it- explains the health benefits of eating carrots, straight to the point- and wins the contest.
So as you can see, it was a simple advertisement with no CGI, no wild horses galloping along isolated beaches with crashing waves, no celebrity endorsements. It was literally a carrot with eyes stuck in it, a mouth carved out of it and wooden skewers for arms and legs, selling itself on stage- and that was a wrap.
As it turned out our group (having implemented my idea and brought it to life) were then judged to have produced the best advert by my teacher and that was one of two assignments I aced in Year 6. The other was this project on bridges in which I built a suspension bridge out of balsa wood and matchsticks, and went on to be one of only two assignments in our grade (along with an old friend) that achieved top marks, but that’s another story altogether…
Act 2: The Computer Program For All Eternity
I was now in Year 9 and our religious studies teacher set our class an assignment that involved marketing of some sort. While the details of the guidelines are a bit hazy 20 years on, an old mate and I paired up and I suggested this idea of making it like a computer program. So we produced a mock-up computer program titled ‘Eternity 2000‘ (clearly a send-up of Windows 2000). We even had the program box with our logos on it, a whole bunch of installation discs painted different colours and a user manual printed out to go in the box with the discs.
We thought we’d come up with a winner of an idea, and it seemed our teacher did as well!
He liked it so much he had us come up on stage during school assembly and interviewed us about our project as we sat there like absolute kings. We weren’t up there in front of the whole school because we’d won Triple J Unearthed or been signed by an NRL club, but the free publicity still felt cool- and again, it all started with an idea I’d spitballed…
Act 3: Helping The Campus Stay Clean & Tidy
Then in my first year out of school I was at TAFE for a year, working up my credit points to go on to uni for my degree. Our campus held a competition to design a campaign encouraging people on campus to bin their rubbish. I created a really simple logo of a standard stick figure putting their rubbish in the bin, with the slogan “When You Bin, The Environment Wins”- and despite being judged against campaigns put together by fellow arts or design students, mine was picked as the winner.
That was a nice surprise.
But still, on I went to uni for the next 4 years, getting through my degree and enjoying some classes more than others (do a semester of Reading The Visual and you’ll understand why artists give such wanky-sounding explanations for the minimalist crap they display in exhibits). Yet it hadn’t occurred to me that I might have a future in the art of writing words, stories or concepts that sell. Instead I worked away, got my Bachelor of Animation degree, wore the gown and the cap, spent a few years working retail, moved interstate twice and kept the dream alive of going into Film & TV and creating my own series…
Yet (as we now see), life had other plans. And here I am writing these words, looking back and now realising that (all things considered) maybe this is where I was meant to be all along?
So be excellent to one another, navigate your future with an open hand- and eat your veggies!
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