Category Archives: useful tips

From feature to benefit

Product creators love features – consumers buy benefits!

How many times have you heard or read an ad that was a list of features? Heaps of times probably, especially in the car industry. You know the stuff… ABS, dual airbags, leading edge technology, multiplex electrics and the like.

So why are benefits better selling points that features?

Benefits tell the potential customer the answer to the question that all consumers want answered – “What’s in it for me?”. So instead of listing features a better advertisement would translate those features into benefits. For example: … comes with the protection of dual air bags and an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) that improves road holding and steering by regulating the braking pressure to avoid wheel lock.

How to turn a feature into a benefit

The clue was in the last paragraph. We need to answer the question “What’s in it for me?”. So next time you’re trying to work out what benefits your product offers you can use the following formula – this feature means that… = benefit

I’ll give you some examples:

  • multiplex electrics means that there are fewer wires and connections so it’s easier to service and maintain
  • leading edge technology means the best, most up-to-date, most efficient technology
  • 6 bedroom house means this is a family home with plenty of room for all the kids and then some
  • dual processor means it will process information faster allowing you to work more efficiently

Do you get the picture?

So next time you hire an ad writer, or write one yourself, make sure talk about benefits not features.


Advertising – what works?

This is a perennial question and one I wrote one of my free articles on. I think it ‘s a message that bears repeating so here goes…

Do “clever” advertisements really sell? Can you remember what the ad was for, or which brand? The answer is often “No!”.

Don’t sacrifice clarity for cleverness

It’s good if an advertisement can make you laugh but that shouldn’t be it’s main purpose. Certainly ads that make people laugh have engaged their audience but if they don’t follow through strongly enough then people don’t remember which brand or, sometimes, even what type of product the ad was selling!

So whether you’re engaging a copywriter or an ad agency, or you’re going to write your ads yourself don’t be tricked into thinking that “clever is best”; it isn’t, “clear is best”.

Cleverness wins awards for agencies

Ad agencies love “clever”, quirky ads because they are good contenders for creative awards but how successfully do they sell? Sometimes, spectacularly well, but many times poorly. Make sure your promotional dollars are targeted at selling your product or service and not at enhancing your agency’s PR efforts.

What makes a successful campaign?

We have more than 20 years experience in the advertising, marketing and PR business and can write clear, attractive copy that will sell your product or service. But if you want to do it yourself then you need some rules to follow:

  • Know who your audience is
  • Understand what pushes their buttons
  • See your product or service through their eyes
  • List the features and turn them into benefits (for more on this look out for my next post)
  • Write clear copy that catches their interest and explains the benefits
Ads are just one step in the selling process

A successful ad campaign is the result of preparation, research and testing and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Contact The Copywriter Online to discuss your advertising needs or read our article “How to improve your advertising, save money and get better results”.

A brand new website with WordPress

Are you a small business with limited funds? Yet you need a website that has static pages and a blog? Then I’d really recommend I got sick of shelling out fees for hosting and was finding it difficult to change things on my site easily so I took a look around at what was on offer. That’s when I found WordPress.

Free hosting and great features
It’s an impressive platform, that’s easy to use, easy to modify and best of all it’s FREE! They have numerous themes which you can make your own by adding photos etc. For a small fee there are upgrades you can have like pointing your own domain to your blog, or adding mp3 and video files.

All in all I found the the experience pleasantly straight forward. Once you’ve mapped your domain to your blog you can use a free Google service that allows you to have your own email addresses like etc. This too was easy and the Google instructions were great as were the WordPress ones.

WordPress support is really fantastic, heaps of easy-to-read articles and very responsive, actually helpful (I know this is sort of unheard of these days but it’s true) email support.

Need a website?
If  you need a website with some static pages and a blog then I’d recommend you checkout WordPress. (And no they didn’t pay me to say that.) If you find even that too daunting then contact me and, for a surprisingly low fee, I can set it all up for you and write your pages too if you need copywriting help. Contact me today.

Great deal for Mac users and charities…

If you’re a Mac User than you might be interested in this MacHeist deal. You get a number of useful applications for only $39. Some of the money you spend goes to charity and you get to choose which one of the ten nominated.  I bougth the deal myself – but make your own evalutation. For more details here is the link:


P.S. This is a limited time offer. I think there are only a few days left.

How to keep your customers when all around you are losing theirs

Happy New Year to all… Now, let’s not waste time, let’s get right into it. 2009 is not for the faint-hearted but it’s also not the time to put your head in your hands and think about retiring!!!

One person’s obstacle is another person’s challenge…

I hear a lot at the moment about obstacles to be overcome and hurdles to be jumped. Sounds very tiring and a little depressing and it really isn’t helpful. Now a challenge, well that’s different. Challenges help us grow – personally and business-wise – because they help boot us out of our familiar rut.

…and one person’s challenge is another person’s opportunity!

Do a little digging into history and you’ll find that while some businesses do go to the wall in a recession there are many that grow and prosper. In fact the last business I had started from nothing in a recession and went on to become a very successful business. Why? Because it offered something no one else did. Sure other people offered the same services we did, they just didn’t co-ordinate them and make life easier for the customer the way we did. This predicted downturn is full of opportunities for those who want to find them.

What opportunities are there for your business?

While I can’t answer this question without knowing the specifics of your business I can offer some generalisations to help you find them – or you can hire me to be more specific :). In a recession people are looking for several things and anything you can offer that helps them will help your business.Take a look:

  • they want their business dollar to give them the best possible value
  • they want to retain their existing customers
  • they want to find new customers
  • they want to streamline their operations and make them more cost-effective
  • they want to maximise their repeat business
  • they want as many referrals as they can get
  • they want their message to reach AND motivate their target audience to buy
So what’s new?

Don’t people always want these things? Well they should but when business is good and it all just falls in your lap there is a tendency to pay little or no attention to these things. After all the business just seems to run itself. Recessions are good, they help us become less wasteful, more efficient, offer bettter customer service, better products etc., etc.

Communication – it’s a two way street

I can’t emphasise enough the importance of good communication in this process. In my next post I’ll talk about it in more detail. In the meantime if you want a marketing overhaul, a website review or some copywriting that will help you meet the challenges your business faces then you know where to find me.

How to get the best from your copywriter

The best way to get the best work from your copywriter is to give her or him a complete, well-documented and detailed brief. I know this sounds obvious but so many times it doesn’t happen.

Copywriters are a bit like computers in one way…

Well I know that’s a bit tongue in cheek but they say of computers that if you put garbage in you get garbage out and something similar happens with copywriters. If you don’t tell them who your audience is; what your product or service is; what your competitive edge is, and in a fair amount of detail, then you’ll get a half-baked job.

Just stating the obvious?

Well you might think so, but so many times I get asked to write content for websites from a half-page email. I had one recently which I should have turned down from the start. I had a bad feeling about it but because I like to help people and also because this person had trouble expressing themselves in English, I tried to coax information from the prospective client. Eventually I got the half page email plus what was already on the site. I quoted and it was accepted but because of my instincts I said I would only write a small part to begin with to ensure that we understood the project. You know what happened. It all fell apart…

What to tell a copywriter

Because of this latest experience of wasting time and money I have decided to publish on my blog a detailed list of what you need to tell your copywriter to get the best from them. And other copywriters out there, feel free to add your comments to it, or use it as part of your brief requirements. I’ll try to make this list my next post on my return from a bit of well-earned R&R.

Old fashioned service still counts for a lot

You can have the flashiest, coolest website with the latest and greatest products and services but if your customer service is rubbish then why bother?

Why do people make it so hard for you to buy from them?

This is a topic that has exercised my mind before. See my blog entry. But it’s one that just won’t go away. Recently I surfed the net looking for a product and trying to find the best deal. Finally I found it but I needed to know if the supplier stocked refills for the item in question. I couldn’t find them on the site. No phone number! I had to look them up in the White Pages and when I rang I just got an answering machine. I left a message and no one replied.

Then I filled out the email form on the site. It took more than 24 hours before I got a reply. They said they did have refills and if I went to the site later in the day I could find it there and order both and get free shipping. So I went back to the site later in the day… that night… and first thing in the morning… Nothing. I emailed them again, and again. I left two more phone messages and eventually received another email saying that it would happen soon. A few hours later it did but now the price on the original item had been been increased by $10! So I wrote and asked why. No reply…

I decided I really needed this product so I gritted my teeth and went to fill out the account form. Date of Birth! Please! Why do you need my date of birth? I checked the privacy policy which in my opinion was more like an invasion of privacy policy and decided to look elsewhere.

So what is good service?

I found another site, slightly dearer that had both the item and the refills on the site. It had several phone numbers so I called to see how much delivery was. I explained my previous problem and the guy said “I’ll give you free delivery if you buy both. Go back to the site in half an hour and I’ll have set it up for you”. I did and he had! So here’s my list for good customer service:

  • Reply to queries quickly
  • Do what you say you’ll do
  • Do it when you said you would do it
  • Make it easy for people to contact you
  • Don’t be sneaky (as in this case by hiking up the price without saying anything)
  • Don’t make your forms more daunting than they need to be. Do you really need someone’s Date of Birth?

That’s my whinge for today and congratulations to the supplier I bought from who wants to remain nameless – great service and modest too!