email copy that equals stellar sales

need help connecting the dots between your email copy and its sales results? sophie donelson, editorial director of C. Wonder and Monika Chiang, presented pertinent tips on how to make your subject lines, headlines and subheads rock the analytic charts. here are a few quick tidbits from our charming guest speaker if you weren’t able to join us:

tap the inverted pyramid technique.the inverted pyramid
break out your notes from journalism class and use this article-writing tactic to prioritize your message. the premise is simple: the most important info goes at the top, followed by significant details, followed by the least newsworthy stuff.

grammar rules: bend (or break!) them.
emails should be evocative and stir feelings. do whatever you have to do to make them that way. have a field day playing with fragments, hyphens and weird punctuation as long as your message stays clear.

subject lines: don’t get in the way of what’s tried and true.

new arrivals
sale!
introducing [insert new product]

you might balk at these subject lines because they seem so… blah. but sometimes what seems boring is actually just a straightforward way to get results — according to sophie, the three lines above are almost fail-proof when it comes to scoring good open rates. want some extra oomph? sophie swears by an ellipsis to add intrigue and up your opens.

stay out of spam: avoid these words.
don’t use the words “free,” “help,” “reminder” or “percent off” (the symbol % is okay though) in the subject line and you’ll help keep the email from the junk folder.

think of the subject line as a promise.
then ensure your content fulfills that promise once the email is opened. sophie offered a tip she read at copyblogger.com, a writing resource she recommends: the best subject lines tell what’s inside, the worst sell what’s inside.

hop online to cwonder.com and monikachiang.com and sign up for their mailing list to check out some of these tips in action.

we’ll see you next month (tuesday, march 12th to be exact) when brand strategist jean railla discusses the digital frontier and the space where brands and culture collide. reserve now to save your spot!

–kelley granger

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CL snapshot: sophie donelson

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a flash interview with sophie donelson

editorial director, C. Wonder & Monika Chiang

three words that sum up your job:

deadline is today. (or, collaborative, challenging and super-fun.)

C. Wonder's first New York Times ad, 09/12

C. Wonder’s first New York Times ad, 09/12

the highlight of your career (so far!):

despite spending almost a decade as an editor and journalist for national magazines, the return policy on the C. Wonder receipt is probably my widest published and most-read “work” and therefore a highlight. but opening the C. Wonder store last fall and seeing my work simultaneously splashed across The New York Times, taxis, tv and billboards was a crazy and memorable high.

the best advice you’ve ever been given:

don’t kiss up, kiss down. (i.e. it’s your intern, not your boss that’ll give you a big break one day.)

if you weren’t a creative, you’d be:

happier. just kidding. probably a zumba instructor or a d-list cable show tv host. <– not kidding.

when i say i write a lot for c. wonder, i mean i really do write it! this is me on opening day of our soho flagship.

when i say i write a lot for C. Wonder, i mean i really do write it! this is me on opening day of our soho flagship.

copy or campaigns you admire:

i’m always delighted by the inventive copy penned by Kiosk, the soho (and online) shop. they tell funny, honest stories and never let fancy language hinder the message. it’s a remarkably effective sales technique. and Journelle. it’s hard to spin lingerie in a fresh way almost every day and they do it with elegance and verve. and i like the way Land of Nod and Boden include thoughtful messages on collateral like e-com packaging.

best two reasons to attend your Copy Lab event:

1. high probability you or your employer (and probably both) will make money off some of the ideas i’ll share. 2. you’ll probably laugh a bit. i’m prone to using inappropriate language and telling off-the-record stories. sign up now    more details

the power of networking

even if you sit behind a computer to do your work, in this digital world, we can’t forget that personal relationships still matter — a lot.

handshake

through social media we connect with, friend, and link up with hundreds — sometimes thousands — of people, some of whom we may never have even met. add the power of a face-to-face personal relationship and you can help create more effective lasting impressions.

enter: the importance of networking.

it doesn’t matter if your end-goal is to get a new job, more freelance work or to just get tips from your peers, connecting with other creatives like yourself is a must-do. it can help you get motivated to start that next project, learn a new skill, or maybe you meet your next partner or land a new gig. important opportunities you have yet to consider could be lurking at every turn.

sometimes it’s hard to put yourself out there. but at The Copy Lab, we’ve got your back. that’s why we’ve planned an event that cures wallflower syndrome and makes networking more approachable, less stressful and better than ever. it’s our speed-date networking event slated for tuesday, april 16 from 7 – 9:30 pm at revel in the west village.

a few things to help you prepare for worthwhile networking:

  • make sure your linked in profile is up-to-date and reflective of your creative genius (people will be checking you out!)
  • bring copies of your stellar, error-free resume and plenty of business cards to hand out
  • follow up with your new connections via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
  • did i mention bring plenty of business cards?

who knows where the invaluable information you glean from other creatives going through what you are will take you.

a bit more advice? reserve your spot for some quality speed-date networking now. keep checking our site for more events; new dates are always being added.

by
meredith clinton bell

design crash course for copywriters

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last night design pro roy wiemann translated years of experience (illustrating for the likes of the New York Times and the Smithsonian) into actionable nuggets of info for eager copywriters looking to transform their spec copy into something visually portfolio-worthy. if you weren’t able to join us, here are a few quick pointers to steer you toward a better designed DIY piece.

Shutterstock and Google Images = your new best friends.

DIY on the cheap? Google Images if rife with pictures you can borrow for your designs. If you’re prepared to invest time and a little more money, consider a month’s membership to Shutterstock, where you can download a couple hundred images for a spec copy project now (and a few to inspire another project down the road). roy’s tip—make it even cheaper by splitting the cost with a designer who needs some new images too.

don’t underestimate the influence of your font.

as roy illustrated in his presentation, the font alone can change the entire mood of your piece. he suggests sticking with a simple font to keep the focus on your copy, not on fledgling design skills.

resolve to check your resolution.

a poor resolution makes any piece look a bit off. 300 dpi is the standard for print while 72 dpi is fine for digital work. (stick to 300 dpi if you can, you can always size down!) also a quick reminder—work in RGB colors if your final piece will be digital; CMYK if you’re planning to print it out.

give your background some forethought.

a background that’s too busy will detract from your copy and overall design, and a background’s that’s too boring might make it fall a little flat. roy likes adding a little gradation to give a hero image a nice glow.

get familiar with Photoshop alternatives.

we know you’re not a designer and probably don’t want to shell out a small fortune for Adobe software. we were amazed and encouraged by the alternatives our event attendees had used to create some pretty impressive designs. don’t underestimate programs like MS Word and Powerpoint, and also check these out: Sumopaint, Gimp and Photoshop Elements (a pared-down, way-way-cheaper version of Photoshop).

you’re not a designer, but you know what looks good.

roy mentioned a thought from a j.d. salinger character who said to “write what you want to read.” keep that in mind when you’re plugging away at your design—use your intuition to make it something appealing. if you’re at a total loss, team with a designer to get your concept completed (we can help you find someone affordable! join our april networking event) or feel free to post your pleas for insight on our facebook or linkedin groups.

happy designing!

–kelley granger

kelley@thecopylabnyc.com

for more on roy: click here

our february event: C. Wonder’s sophie donelson sheds some light on copy that sells. prizes will be involved! learn more

billboards: big potential for interactive creativity

if you have a fertile imagination, billboards present an irresistible challenge because they’re a flexible platform.  you can:

  • have material blow in the wind
  • grow something on them
  • utilize the rain and other elements
  • feature strategic lighting, strategic cutouts, mirrors, odd shapes, things moving, spinning, dripping, flashing, twinkling, or smoking.
  • create interactive billboards with cameras (as in Times Square)
  • waft a fragrance

as Luke Sullivan pointed out in “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This!” if you create a mediocre billboard, it’s going to be mediocre on a grand scale, so it has to be  interesting.

McDonald’s had greens growing on a billboard to advertise its fresh salad bar offerings, and created a round egg billboard that cracked open every day to advertise breakfast meals.

if you can think of a way for people to interact with your billboard, then you’re golden: they can text in a response to a question or game, or stand before a camera to be blown up onto a big screen. maybe readers could pick basil leaves off a billboard for Primavera Spaghetti Sauce, or capture bubbles spewing from a billboard for Mr. Bubbles. birth announcements posted on the Target Baby Facebook page were translated to a billboard in the los angeles Kodak Theater, then a picture was taken to pass along to the proud parents, as an example of interactivity from Wieden + Kennedy (portland).

highway billboards should be eye-catching and inspire comment or action. drivers typically have 8 seconds to read them, unless they’re stuck in traffic for hours, in which case, an interactive billboard would be perfect for whiling the hours away.

check out these incredible billboards, and let us know your favorites: 50 extraordinary and attractive billboards.

by
kim taylor

for more information on our membership and events, visit The Copy Lab.

show my portfolio and have my ideas pilfered?

this question is asked with trepidation by copywriters, and by anyone who shares creative work: scriptwriters, authors pitching books, inventors, app developers, fashion and graphic designers. it’s a question of trust, and the answer is obvious. you must share your ideas or they’ll gather dust, and someone else will think of them eventually anyway — or something very close that will arouse your suspicion.

there are precautions you can take. you can password-protect your online portfolio (you need an online portfolio) or you can send a pdf of your work, but the best defense is to forge a good working relationship with anyone who wants to view your portfolio. the idea being that the real thing (you, hired) is so much more prolific and reliable than a one-off cheap theft, even if you’re simply kept in mind for a later hire.

also, your attitude should be “help yourself — there are 50,000 more where that one came from” because if you’re a working copywriter, then you’re in the business of generating endless ideas. you’re an idea fountain, tapped into an eternal flame of creativity.

if someone does steal your idea, feel sorry for that pathetic person with such a limited imagination. it’s better to have an endless bounty than to be the empty shell of a person who grubs around for someone else’s ideas.  but keep in mind that people really do come up with eerily similar ideas – i’ve seen it happen often in classes.

i once sent a script to a friend at Paramount, and a year later a movie that was clearly my script was released with a virtually identical plot, and the same beginning and ending. flabbergasted, i researched the screenwriter and discovered that “my movie” was actually based on his own book, which was conveniently published well before i had ever written the script. so sometimes ideas are just in the air.

don’t worry about someone purloining your unique concepts, worry more about presenting them before someone else does.

have you ever had someone lift your idea? if so, what did you do about it?

by
kim taylor

for more information on our membership and events, visit The Copy Lab.

ten alternative advertising tips

surrounded by good company and a few cocktails, we congregated in our own section of a plush, art deco lounge in the flatiron district last night. Meanwhile, R/GA senior copywriter jenna livingston led us in a two-hour alternative advertising workshop, complete with creative brief and thorough q&a session. the highlight of the night was hearing ideas from attendees themselves, who came up with some of the most ingenious and hilarious non-traditional campaigns (or should I say “antics”) that very well could be the beginnings of the next big viral ad campaign. unfortunately, that’s all i’m able to share. you really had to be there! but as a quick recap, here are ten great tips jenna shared last night: 

  1. if you want to work for a certain agency, include work in your book that would appeal to them. make ads with similar clients you would like to work on.
  2. contact creative directors whose work you admire. Creativity and AgencySpy are great places to learn about industry news and agency happenings.
  3. do side projects, like Starbucks Spelling, that can be added to your book to make you stand out.
  4. ideas that can be done inexpensively or free are a major plus for attracting agencies looking to hire creative talent.
  5. in interactive, the idea should always come first. then figure out what the technology is (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc).
  6. bounce ideas off of other people. working alone is good, but can only get you so far. you never know when something someone says could spark a whole new idea and lead to an even better direction.
  7. you should try to add new work to your book every six months.
  8. ask for help. offer to pay other ad people to help you improve your work. giving a junior designer a couple of bucks to make your work look good will make you more desirable. same goes for asking writers to help out.
  9. go on artistic dates. take time out of your week to see a movie, go to a museum, people watch, and get some inspiration.
  10. many people have great ideas but never make them happen. go for it! you have nothing to lose.

for those of you who attended last night and have other key points you’d like to share, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. and don’t forget to sign up for next month’s speed-date networking event!

by
kendria smith