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Marketability eBulletin

Welcome to our latest fortnightly eBulletin, posted here on 11 May 2021. In this issue:

How to write succinct copy for a really complex product (recent example)

Your product comprises multiple titles, formats and authors. How on earth do you describe it succinctly and hope to do it justice?

Although I was asked this by a marketer, this is just as relevant to you if you’re a publisher, as the focused market positioning of all products should start at proposal meetings.

This was a real question asked at a recent in-company Copywriting Workshop with an academic publisher. Here’s what I do:

  1. Identify why someone would choose my product over competing alternatives. In other words, the differentiating 10 second sell or elevator pitch. What’s the benefit that the reader can’t get elsewhere? The stakes are high with these products, and you genuinely can make a big difference by getting this right.
  2. Focus on simplicity and on stats (in that order). If it’s complex, you first need to persuade that it’s really easy to find what you want. Then you wow them with the authority of the content – numbers of topics, authors, pages, illustrations, original sources etc. And if you can add some excellent endorsements and an impressive number of institutions already subscribed, so much the better.
  3. Use scenarios/case examples to bring benefits of engaging with the content to life. For example, an early career researcher wanting to find all the original sources relevant to their specific topic. How would they pick and choose to easily pinpoint content that matches their needs? An example of a simple journey that makes it feel relevant rather than overwhelming.
  4. Set up a landing page, if you can. Publishers’ websites usually don’t accommodate these multi-format references easily, as product pages are usually driven by individual titles. Provide visitors with a soft landing (especially from an email campaign) with an over-arching page focusing on overall benefits, and links to the relevant content or titles, perhaps organised under a selection of FAQs or scenarios
Our 3 hour online Copywriting Workshop is a crash course in principles which is guaranteed to get you thinking. Next runs on 9 June, 2pm-5pm UK time. Booking is open now!

Half or full-day courses are available as a tailored in-company version with plenty of opportunity for practical issues you really care about. Email to find out more.

What’s driving your marketing planning? Not just for marketers

If you are involved in marketing planning, whether for individual campaigns or your company marketing strategies, I invite you to answer the following as honestly as you can. And if you’re indirectly involved in marketing, you’re invited too!

What drives decisions on which activities to undertake and when? Think about this for a moment, then rate the following out of 10 as decision-drivers.

a) The product: to achieve targets
b) Stakeholders/authors: to meet their requirements/expectations
c) Your audience: their needs/preferences

This is one of the questions we consider at the start of our Impressive Marketing Plans Workshop. This full day very practical course has now been adapted to run in 2 x 3 hour sessions and will take place on 15 and 17 June, between 2pm and 5pm UK time. Bookings open now.


Why sign up is a better call to action than register

A call to action should articulate what you want the reader to do next, but it must also be a quick and logical next step. The action needs to be proportionate to the information they’ve just read. Put simply, if you’ve just been given a 10 word summary about a book priced at £200, it’s unrealistic to expect your reader to be ready to ‘Buy now’. You should achieve many more clicks by choosing ‘Read more’ instead.

Many of us are promoting webinars with a ‘Register now’ button. The problem with a verb like register is that it suggests filling in a form (which takes time and is tedious), and commitment. ‘Sign up now’ doesn’t have these connotations, even if the process involved is identical. It’s more likely to tip the reader into clicking on it.

I’ve been running tailored email marketing training over the last couple of months and we’ve spent lots of time homing in on details like this. Subscribers may only spend seconds deciding whether to act or delete an email you’ve sent them, and top of their list after ‘relevance’ is ‘is it quick and easy?’ What’s really fascinating is that when you start to analyse the metrics against real emails, the proof is suddenly there in black and white that these seemingly innocuous choices can make a big difference.

Not sure you buy this? You don’t need to, when you can easily test it for yourself. If it’s got you thinking, try doing an A/B split test on button copy variations. If you do, I’d love to know the outcome(s)!

I may be biased, but our Email Marketing Workshop really works as an in-company course. Not only can we cover best practice in general, but we can also drill right down to your current campaigns. Interrogating the metrics often clearly shows how and why subscribers are engaging with you. Email me on if you’d like to find out more.


On The Marketability Grapevine on Facebook

  • If you’ve been following our Park Lane Stables campaign, take a look at the new website we’ve just launched for them.
  • Excellent proof of the importance of punctuation which you may just want to share.
  • 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: What’s the most borrowed book in the UK’s House of Commons Library?

Classic political treatise, history, or biography? Nope, it’s How to be an MP.

This week’s tip is … when writing copy, question assumptions you make about your audience, be mindful of their actual motivations, and recognise that you may not always want to allude directly to them.



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Tel +44 (0)20 8977 2741