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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 22 December 2020. In this issue:

Tip: writing a 10 second sell for a specialist title

With only three days to go till a Christmas Day like no other, this eBulletin is a quick read for those of you still at work, featuring excellent tips from four people I’ve worked with this year.

Amy Hilton is Head of Customer Marketing at the BMJ. She shared her personal tip when we were discussing the challenge of writing a 10 second sell for a specialist journal during an online Copywriting Workshop. The journal title would already be full of key words, but what to follow them with without duplication?

“I imagine what I would want if I was the audience”, said Amy. “If the focus of the journal was social media, for instance, then the next thing I’d want to know is which platforms it covered.”

This is surely universal: we want that next line to elaborate by expanding on what topics are covered, don’t we? The moment we convert this into something we personally recognise it becomes easier to judge what we’re looking for in our 10 second sell.

Our Copywriting Workshops feel like a little bit of normality, even if we have swapped a training room for Zoom this year! If it’s something you’d be interested in discussing for 2021, do email me at

More about our Copywriting Workshop.


Tip: why you should write error messages as you plan your shiny new campaign

Naomi Farmer is Senior Marketing Manager at Edinburgh University Press. Last month she wryly sent me this, knowing that I would appreciate it:

“Copywriting thought for the day: when you’re writing your promotional copy for a campaign, also write your error messages. That way, when your website goes down the second you launch, say, your big sale, you don’t have to write those ‘sorry, we’re working on it!’ tweets and emails in a panic.”

Great advice, anticipation of how to respond if things go wrong is a sign of good planning. And of course it’s only fabulously successful campaigns that have the ability to bring our websites to their knees, so there’s definitely a silver lining to this cloud. And this particular example is yet another reminder that academics are just as partial to a big sale as any other group of consumers.

Our Academic Marketing Workshop features excellent marketing by Edinburgh University Press and many more academic publishers besides. Now adapted to run online in 2 x 3hour sessions, it will take place next in the spring (date TBC). Drop me an email to register interest, or watch this space.


Tip: how passing a colleague in a corridor can focus the mind

I love this one too! Antje King works with Nature Partner Journals, part of Springer’s Nature Research portfolio. She wanted to adopt a lighter, more conversational tone in the paid ads for their specialist open access journals. She worked with the in-house editors on “getting the right balance of keeping the science in (after all, the readers we’re aiming at are their peers) but keeping the jargon out”.

They decided to use this scenario as a brief for anyone writing similar copy in future:

“Imagine you’re walking down the corridor and meet a colleague. You’re excited to tell them that your article was just accepted for publication. You’re asked what it’s about, but you’re on your way to a meeting, so you don’t have time to go into detail.”

Picturing yourself in real situations is a great way of jolting yourself away from the perceived ‘authority’ of the written word in front of you on screen, helping you to more confidently cut to the chase.

Our Copywriting Workshops are full of tips that participants have shared with us over the years – and we’re still collecting them. Fancy contributing?

Read more about our Copywriting Workshop.


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

  • I can’t resist a good flash mob, so here are 8 of the best chosen by Classic FM.
  • It’s not just the messaging that communicates our brand values, but the visuals we choose too. We share an unfortunate example of when this hasn’t been thought through.
  • Read something that hit the spot in this eBulletin? Click through and like the item or add a comment on Facebook
  • Watch the Wall for postings of new jobs, or feel free to add to them.

Visit The Marketability Grapevine.


Tip of the week: How to get approval for your brand’s radical new tone of voice

I’m anonymising this one for reasons that will be obvious, but I think it’s genius.

We’ve been working with a big publisher this year on re-working their website copy. The brief was to make it more personal and more informal, something the original copy had shied away from in case it undermined the authority of the company. We’re probably all familiar with this and have had similar conversations with colleagues in-house. Too often, the copy that’s approved by everyone with an opinion ends up dry, generic and stuffy.

On this occasion, the new conversational copy was a big change in tone of voice, but now needed to get approval around the business. To help ease its path, the manager I’d worked with conducted some informal market research prior to presenting it, asking existing clients and customers for their reactions. Luckily, they were overwhelmingly positive, and bolstered by this evidence from the audience the new tone of voice was approved.

This is such an excellent example of anticipating the challenges ahead and meeting them with style! And the research in question would have taken very little time.

On that positive note, I wish you a relaxing and healthy Christmas break.





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