Monthly Archive: January 2015

Has “Generation Transformation” Ascended To The C-Suite?

When you work in marketing today, or its subset—advertising—you’re no longer a simple pitchman. You’re a maker. A weaver of brand tapestries. I say this with a wry smile, fully cognizant of my own role in the promotion of high mindedness when it comes to brand communications.

But before I get too excited about enthusiasm for radical industrial change, let’s take a look at how sharply some critics cut when presented with an ad carcass.

Even the ad game’s top players are looking for new answers to old questions. Rob Reilly, who recently left Crispin Porter + Bogusky for McCann told Adweek that his biggest challenge in the new job is:

Finding talent and keeping them. Creative people are motivated by what great things they can make. My goal is surrounding them with those opportunities. I want this place to be known for a commitment to evolving the industry beyond what it currently is.

Is this how an industry morphs? Through conscious evolution? Or is it more by fits and starts?

Jeff Pundyk, vice president, content marketing and strategy, at The Economist Group hints at a more holistic future for marketing “that blends brand building, customer experience and transactions.”

In order to better meet their customers where they live, marketing departments are building new capabilities that focus on digital engagement, marketing operations, and technology. They also are seeking significant investments in technology that facilitates both smart engagement and the analytics to understand and optimize the customer experience across multiple channels.

When I became a copywriter in the mid-90s, I never imagined that I would be “optimizing the customer experience across multiple channels.” We used to call it integrated marketing in those days, and it was about taking one common brand message and delivering it cohesively and consistently across many channels. Now, the idea of one brand message for all is quaint, at best.

You want someone’s business today? You need to know more about your prospects and customers than shallow brand personas allow. To truly connect, it is incumbent on the brand to show it cares about people as individuals. Know the person’s name at the very least; better yet, learn to honor their buying and contact preferences. You can do this heavy lifting face-to-face, or use technology to help. The point is marketing is not a cold calculated science. Marketing is the art of connecting humans with products and services, and we use a bit of science to achieve our desired ends.

Chances Are Good That Your Company Needs A Copywriter Right Now

The work that copywriters do remains a mystery to many. There’s no good reason for this. The job of a copywriter is to convey information in a clear way.

Q. Why do companies need a copywriter on staff, or a contract copywriter on retainer?

A. To provide the words!

It’s true, words are the end result of a copywriter’s work. But what else does a copywriter do, before she provides the words?

According to “10 Things Epic Copywriters Do” by Jasmine Henry, a copywriter’s work includes research, user experience optimization, interviewing experts, an understanding of behavioral psychology, and more. “Exceptional copywriters become trusted advisers to organizations. They translate abstract business goals into strategy, and convey their customer knowledge back to business decision-makers,” Henry contends.

That doesn’t sound like creative writing to me.

Do you have someone on staff who can type a decent memo or email? Do you also turn to this internal resource for blog posts, email newsletter copy, speech writing for the CEO, Twitter updates and so on? If the staffer has a degree in English or Journalism, exudes conversational wit and possesses a keen understanding of real-time marketing, then by all means…

If you continue to struggle to get your company’s story together, let me know. What looks like a tangled web of stray wires to you, probably looks like a puzzle I badly want to solve. To each his own.

technology invasion

By the way, you can put the best writer in the world working on the job, but if she’s working from a faulty strategy or worse, no strategy at all, then it is wasted effort. Copywriters don’t “turn abstract business goals into strategy,” as Henry suggests. Strategists do. The copywriter then takes the strategic objective and wraps it in a story that people can relate to, digest and share.

To be extra super clear, Bonehook provides the brand strategy and the copy that your company needs to achieve your strategic marketing objectives. At times, we also supply the graphic design, web design and environmental design necessary to amplify your story.

Brand Narratives Connect People To Authentic Products

Successful online retailers like owners Maxine Bédat and Soraya Darabi are acting as curators and tastemakers. Their buyers trust them to go out into the world and bring back the luxurious pieces that will add to their own narratives of self.

Retailer as curator also means retailer as storyteller.

Products have history. Products have provenance.

According to The New York Times:

Stories are important to Zady’s owners. Knowing where their products come from allows them to keep tabs on the way many of their products are made. The narratives also connect consumers to other people and places, adding a personal and experiential component to a tangible good and giving it an aura of authenticity.


Say I were to consider a $425 sweater from Zady…aside from the product photography, there is this copy to consider:

Thick, soft, and 100% natural, the hand-knit Alpaca Sweater in caramel and cream is the essential holiday sweater. Industry of All Nations collaborates with a cooperative outside of La Paz, Bolivia to harvest alpaca fibers and hand-knit the sweater, keeping the beautiful natural color of the alpaca and minimizing negative impacts on the environment. Alpaca is a hollow, core fiber that is a thermal insulator while also being highly breathable and hypoallergenic, making it a sustainable and comfortable solution to cold weather dressing.

That’s product description working overtime as brand narrative. Zady’s brand voice is one that details the why and the how of a product, so I am fully informed in my decision making. This is not an off-the-rack sweater I’m considering—it’s made by a co-op in Bolivia!

In Fast Company, cognitive anthropologist Bob Deutsch argues:

The quest for success in social media marketing—including content development, influencer strategies, real-time tweeting newsrooms, etc.—will continue to be inefficient, unpredictable, or just downright ineffective, until it shifts its focus from being in a conversation with consumers to entering people’s narratives of self.

When my narrative of self tells me that I will feel better when I lay out big bucks for a handmade sweater from Bolivia that my “friends” at Zady curated for me, I am ready to push “Purchase.”