How many ways are there to say ‘thank you’?

It’s a topic that seems to have filled my week for several reasons.

Reason 1: Having attended the recent TFM&A show (boo to link building and yessss to high quality content, I discovered), I felt I should squeeze in some time to pimp up my Google+ account. I got a bit distracted and was spirited away to Friends+Me which I seem to have signed up to without so much as sneezing.

Within minutes, I received an email saying, “Hey Caroline, I am Alois, Founder of Friends+Me. I wanted to reach out to see if you need any help getting started.”

Surprised, I replied, “Is this an automated email?” to which he answered, “Hi Caroline,yes, it is automatic email but what’s important is the message, offer of help. Don’t hesitate to contact me in case you need any help. Have a wonderful day!”

What great – and instant – customer service.

Reason 2: I’ve been working on a school questionnaire to send prospective parents accompanied by a thank you email from the Head. SurveyMonkey, I love you. It’s easy, it’s flexible and it’s free though you can upgrade to some extra techy wizardry.

Reason 3: One of my regular clients, Anatomic & Co, has asked me to create a series of thank you emails to customers. The best thank you messages from companies are those with a really personal touch – the ones that make you feel one in a million, not just one of a million.

Such as these:

 

Yes, appreciative retailers – my debit card will definitely pay you a visit.

So, pencil sharpened and at the ready to pen a gracious bon mot or thirty.

Meanwhile, thank you for reading this. I mean it.

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How many words can you think of for a remote control?

Sounds like a competition, doesn’t it?  Researchers have actually found 57 different words for a remote control.  Blabber..zapper..melly…I can’t even begin to think of the other 54 so will have to put the Dictionary of Contemporary Slang top of my shopping list.

There’s even a section called ‘kitchen-table lingo’ – my favourite is ‘slabby-gangaroot’ for the encrusted brownish opaque bits around the top of a ketchup bottle. ‘Splosh’ for a cup of tea is more common and a great example of how many of these new words are onomatopoeic.

Essex seems to have the UK firmly in its grip with its linguistic offerings such as ‘amazeballs’ and ‘totes devz’.

How will spellchecker ever cope?

I invented my own word over New Year on holiday when faced with swimming-but-not-being-able-to-swim in a very small hotel pool.

I developed a way of upright cycling/swimming which I called ‘swycling’. I also developed a painful knee which I’ve needed physio for. I’d call that not a very good idea after all.

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How much should a new name cost?

I read a recent article in The Daily Telegraph’s business section about Rodial beauty products. It’s a remarkable brand, not just because of the turn-back-the-clock anti-wrinkle formulations, but also because the names are truly eye-popping. What copywriter wouldn’t want to pass up the chance of dreaming up Snake Serum, Dragon’s Blood and Bee Venom? Who couldn’t fail to be seduced by the promises of SUPER FIT boob job and SUPER FIT size zero?

Any naming project these days is a tricky one – mainly because just about every url worth its salt has been snapped up. Not any more, though. Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are coming up for grabs on a regular basis. The registry Donuts Inc has plans for over 1,000 new appendages such as .agency, .boutique, .builders, and .cheap. Apple and Ford have already laid claim to registering their names as gTLDs, as protection from naughty cybersquatters.

But for start-ups who can’t afford to pay $185,000 to ICANN when applying – and $25,000 for each year the domain name is used – what’s to be done?

There is a cheaper way to get a great name and corresponding url: through using a creative copywriter. But how much cheaper, you’re wondering?

Thinking up a name can take minutes, but more likely days. In the early 90s at Wolff Olins, I worked on a brief for a new Hutchinson Telecom brand. Our team spent days, poring over dictionaries and the thesaurus (only Roget’s will do, BTW)….probing books…. ploughing through magazines. The name? Why, Orange. Seems pretty much par for the course now as we’re so used to it, but Oarnge was a head turner when it launched.

A good starting point is to trawl through wordy sites like More Words, Word Hippo, The Phrase Finder and good old Roget’s (in hardback, of course). It’s rare that a client will decide on a name, plus its url, in the first round of suggestions so you need to allow for plenty of to-ing and fro-ing.

Half a day isn’t enough. But two to three days of a copywriter’s time allows for research, mulling, revising and revamping.

The cost may be a little more than you’d anticipated. But the result should be priceless.

 

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I’ll be all of a twitter at Wandsworth Business Week

It’s Wandsworth Business Week , 3 – 8 Feb, with stacks of fantastic and free events including guest speakers such as Laura Tenison, founder of JoJo Maman Bébé, Rachel Bridge, Sunday Telegraph journo, and Sam Harrison, co-founder of one of my nearby watering holes, Sam’s Brasserie & Bar.

 OK, so I’ve had a sneaky preview because I wrote the website and leaflets. And so, without any persuading whatsoever, I’ve signed up for the ‘Boost your business through social media‘ workshop. Emma Jane Clark, co-founder of  digital marketing agency Gertrude & Ivy is set to reveal how social networking (i.e. Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn) can help boost your business.

I’ve talked before how being a freelance copywriter can be like working in no-man’s land, so one 2014 resolution was to do some poking around outside of my four walls and investigate how to get more welly out of Twitter and LinkedIn.

And so I took part in a great Twitter Academy webinar this week, entitled ‘How to build your presence on Twitter‘. It lasts 30 minutes and is v straightforward, so do have a listen.

Having ticked one box the next was to tackle my personal and business profiles on Barclays Connector. It’s a free online community enabling you to interact and find the knowledge, customers and opportunities to grow your business. (Impressed by the succinct yet powerful description? OK, I’m blowing my own trumpet – I wrote that website too.)

So now I’m looking forward to boosting, building, branding, blooming, bewitching and – fingers crossed – being top dog on Google. Will keep you posted.

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I feel faint. I feel special. All thanks to a radio ad.

Call me cynical, but I’m not easily fooled by ads.

However, I have been prompted into action by the radio ad running last November and December, urging people to ‘Give something amazing this Christmas’ by helping maintain blood stock levels. The ad was no-nonsense and simple, cutting through all the other radio clutter. (The campaign by DLKW Lowe also ran online and on YouTube.)

But what was clever – really clever – was being told that O negative stocks were terribly low.

O negative is special because it can be given to anyone, so is safe in emergencies or for newly borns when the patient’s blood group isn’t known. But only 7% of the population have this group, so supplies are in big demand.

I’m really squeamish. I hate needles. The sight of blood makes me feel faint. But I’ve really got no valid excuses. And as a freelance copywriter, my time is really my own.

Anyone over 17 in good health can donate and I wish I’d done so much earlier.

Visit www.blood.co.uk or call 0300 123 23 23 to find a session near you. The website makes it really easy, and you’ll feel special too.

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You can take the girl out of Soho but…..

Last autumn, I was appointed to work on a major digital project for Barclays Bank. Partly because I’ve a vaultful of financial experience. And partly because the client wanted a freelance copywriter who could easily come in to their London offices at short notice. Being in Kew, I ticked both boxes.

The problem with freelancing from home and having clients just an email away is that you can easily get stuck in domestic bliss. I’ll jump at the chance of an agency meeting in Soho (though most of my clients seem to be in the cool haunts of Old Street these days). I’m equally placed to spring on to the M3 or M4 (looking forward to a blast of country air next week with a client meeting in Farnham).

Environment is everything so my resolution this year is to hold meetings in all sorts of new, fun and inspiring places. I shall be aiming for:

  • The Beaumont in Mayfair, Corbin and King’s latest venture (the men originally behind my favourite, The Ivy). Years ago, my art director, James Spence, and I would book a table for four the first Friday of every month, hoping that an indebted account handler would take us there. It did happen, sometimes.
  • Mondrian London - just imagine those views. Working may not be a possibility.

  • The London EDITION - if I can’t wait for the above two to open, please join me at the Berners Tavern here.
  •  Or, much closer to home, the fabulous Olympic Studios in Barnes – especially because, when it was still a recording studio used by Spike Stent, I powdered my nose in the same loo Madonna had visited the day before. How’s that for a claim to fame.

Anyone for a meeting in town?

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I lost my voice and didn’t know where to find it

I lost my voice last week. It took me five days to find it. Nightmare.

I could only croak like a frog. I could only communicate with clients by email and text. And whenever I whispered to people, they whispered back as if we were concocting some great conspiracy. (I’ve since discovered that whispering is really bad because your vocal cords bang together as hard as if you were shouting.)

‘I’ve lost my voice’ ….it’s such a great expression that I’ve decided end the year on a silly and light-hearted note with these quirky festive-themed idioms as food for thought (there, another two in that sentence without even thinking):

- Drink like a fish

- Sprout wings

- Couch potato

- Pigs in blankets

- Piece of cake

- What’s sauce for the goose

- Go cold turkey

- Put your skates on

If you think of any more while sipping your Bristol cream, email me at caroline@carolinegibson.co.uk. The winner will receive a turkey leftovers sandwich.

Happy New Year and here’s to a great 2014!

 

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I’m wishing you a heavenly Christmas

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Here comes the bridal designer……

I was fourteen when I decided I wanted to be a copywriter.

I’d read an article about a copywriter who came up with names for Boots makeup. I loved all things girlie. I loved English at school. And I loved word games and puns (if only it were that simple!).

Fast forward xx years and yes, I admit it: with many an automotive and finance client under my belt, I still get a big kick out of writing for fashion clients and for all things pink.

Which leads me to neatly segue into a huge congrats to a fantastic longstanding client, Louise Selby. Louise is celebrating 25 years in the business and has commemorated the anniversary with a gloriously glossy designed-for-the-coffee-table book.

I advised her to use Blurb. It’s a much loved way by photographers to design a book and have it printed. It’s dead simple to use and the results are dead stunning.

You can preview and buy Louise’s book here. There are lots of beautiful wedding dresses and photos peppered with some words to do them justice by me.

And not a pun in sight.

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Why I’m flying high

There’s always a certain buzz, as a freelance copywriter, when you spot your work.

Last week I was away in Italy for a few days. On the BA flight back to Heathrow, I flicked through the business mag and came across an ad for Priority Pass that I’d written a few months before. I can’t deny it: I had a warm glow all the way home. Seeing finished work (apart from websites) can be a rare joy indeed.

It’s not the only downside of freelancing remotely. Another is having a lack of control from beginning to end. You hope the brief will be sound (though every copywriter worth their salt should never be afraid of challenging the brief).

You hope that the concepts and copy will hit the nail on the head (because, as a freelancer, you just can’t afford to be making endless rounds of revisions).

And you hope that the work you produce will get used and appear one day (but even if it doesn’t, you have the right to be paid for your time and effort: a legal principle lknown as ’quantum meruit’).

A well thought-through and written brief is really the solid foundation to great work. It takes time and experience to write one and the hardest part of all is defining that unique and single minded proposition and avoiding the temptation to add in three. That would be woolly, very woolly. For any brief, simplicity is great. Simplicity with powerful insight is even greater.

Dave Trott said, “If you don’t know how to write a creative brief, how do you know if the one you’ve been given is any good?” If time is tight, this is my own template for a creative brief.

If you’ve time to spare, try this newly released book - Strategic Thinking for Advertising Creatives by Alice Kavounas Taylor available at Amazon. Yes, it’s aimed at creatives but it’s clear, informative and fun with some excellent examples of past and present creative campaigns. Perfect therefore for account handlers and planners too.

Meanwhile, I’m just going to perch on cloud nine a little longer.

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