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Sunday, March 18, 2007

John Caples on Layout - for Enterprise Software Brochures?!?!

When Clayton Makepeace makes a list of books by the old masters and tells his subscribers to read them, I listen. On the list is, "Tested Advertising Methods" by John Caples, as revised in 1995 by Fred E. Hahn with a forward from David Oglivy.

This is pure gold. Be that as it may, so far, it appears to be entirely B2C oriented. Chances are, whatever it recommends is applicable to B2B either as-is or with slight modifications.

Looking for ways to apply this wisdom immediately, I thought about a debate going on at one of my clients regarding the layout of their brochures. This client develops software, which enables immigration attorneys, large corporations, and universities to:

  • process cases faster
  • balance their caseload and staff for optimum performance
  • provide their clients with self-service online.

Let's look at Caples' advice:

In choosing illustrations for your ads, you will usually get more sales if you cash in on the experience of mail-order advertisers and department stores whose experience depends on ads that produce direct, traceable sales.

Avoid weird, outlandish, or far-fetched pictures that have nothing to do with the product or service you are selling. Use pictures that attract buyers, not curiosity seekers. Here are some safe bets:

  • Pictures of the product

  • Pictures of the product in use

  • Pictures of people who use the product

  • Pictures showing the reward of using the product

What Caples says about layout was in a B2C context and more specifically, focuses on ads as opposed to brochures. Offhand, I don't think that will matter too much.

What's more important is how to adapt his advice to software. After all, software, enterprise or otherwise, is intangible and abstract by its very nature. This is the challenge.

Screenshots of an application are common in software brochures. This would dovetail with Caples' recommendation of providing "pictures of the product." Often, such images wind up as blurry representations of a complex user interface with little for the viewer to latch onto in terms of benefits - implied or explicit.

So, what do you think? How would you adapt Caples' recommendations for a software brochure?

Eric Rosen
Strategic Marketing Writer
Clear Crisp Communications
Easier to Read Means More Sales and Leads

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Awaken to a Jump of 1,000,000+ on Technorati

Returning from a Trip to Mars

90 days. A whole business quarter. In the blogosphere, this might as well be an eternity. And yet, this is how long it's been since my last post to Copywriting Tune-ups. Due to a raft of work that flooded in around Thanksgiving, yours truly has been away from this blog and blogs in general.

Have you ever returned to some place you'd been away from for a very long time? Did a lot change while you were gone?

Seeing all kinds of new widgets on people's blogs is like returning to one's old stomping grounds only to find buildings extended, traffic lights added to what used to be stop sign intersections, and more flashy signs everywhere.

More for you

And yet, this is no excuse for the dearth of posts in this time. If you subscribed to Copywriting Tune-ups, you came to expect thought-provoking makeovers of marketing literature and inspired marketing insights. Going forward, you will get this and more.

As a rule, I never use the words, "and more" without serious justification. But first, let's address the title of this post. Then, we'll talk about and more.

Catapulted by the Z-List

Believe it or not, at the time of the last post to Copywriting Tune-ups, its Technorati ranking was approximately 1,240,000. As of this writing, it's at 118,074!

If you've haven't heard of the Z-List, the idea started with Mark Collier's blog, Viral Garden. In an effort to turn Technorati's "authority ranking" on its ear, Mark created the Z-List. Designed to spread like a chain letter, the Z-List is a collection of links to other blogs that bloggers copy and paste into their own blogs. Each blogger adds links to their favorite under-noticed marketing and writing related blogs. With more inbound links, the receiving blogs increase their authority ranking on Technorati.

On December 21, 2006, Roberta Rosenberg, The Copywriting Maven, added Copywriting Tune-ups to the Z-List and many others have followed her lead. To Roberta, I am eternally grateful. And a huge thanks to those who have shown "link-love" to Copywriting Tune-ups since. I'll link to your blogs from the chrome of this blog. If you linked to Copywriting Tune-ups and you don't see yours in the chrome, contact me.

Check the Reality Check

I've always been amazed at the growth in subscribers to Copywriting Tune-ups - even before the Z-List. On the other hand, to date, it's not been the kind of blog where people comment very much. Since blog reading software makes subscribing to blogs as casual as email, I got to thinking, "It's hard to know if folks think they're getting value out of this blog. With new business coming from other sources, maybe it's best to focus my energies elsewhere."

Wake up and Smell the Signs

Perhaps, I should have known things were stirring. A well-known copywriter gets in touch and asks me to review his book on my blog (I don't review anything until I've fully consumed it and I'm almost done - it is a page-turner, so stay tuned).

The other day, AutoRoll recommends using their widget in this blog after telling me their search on Technorati turned up Copywriting Tune-ups on the first page. This rustled me out of my slumber. It took some quality time to learn of the Z-List and then pinpoint Roberta.

Well, if intrepid copywriters like Roberta Rosenberg and Richard Armstrong and vendors like AutoRoll see value in Copywriting Tune-ups, I need to get back on the stick!

Passing Along Good Karma

As inexcusable as it is, given client work took me away from the blogosphere for 90 days; I need to get up to speed on other worthy blogs who could use some link-love. If you have any suggestions to add to the Z-List, contact me. I can't guarantee I'll include every suggestion, but I will carefully consider every one that comes in.

And Now... Your And More

Even more overdue than a post to this blog is a free eZine from Clear Crisp Communications, my copywriting business. It'll be packed full of readability tips and tricks. It'll start out monthly and eventually go weekly. If you have suggestions for the name, please, get in touch. Also, if you're interested in contributing, speak up.

Also, Copywriting Tune-ups will expand it's coverage to selected B2C topics as well. Catalog copywriting, real estate, and direct mail will enter the mix. Ultimately, all of the B2B and B2C coverage will have the common thread of readability as a pivotal way to turn on readers' hot buttons for higher conversion rates.

Finally, the Clear Crisp Communications website will soon offer online tools for calculating Flesch Ease of Reading, Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level, SMOG, and something else I'm calling "The Ego-meter."

It's great to be back. Looking forward to a lively exchange.

Eric Rosen
Strategic Marketing Writer
Clear Crisp Communications
Easier to Read Means More Sales and Leads

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