Advertising after the Internet revolution


A few thoughts on marketing, and how the Internet has shaken things up:

Has the Internet changed advertising?

Has the Internet changed business?

Has the Internet changed people?

Yes, yes, yes. The Internet has changed the way people live, and it is forcing changes to the way we do business – and the way businesses advertise.

Nowhere to hide

The Internet is like a giant light that nobody can dim. The light shines on everything; exposing truth, lies and everything in-between. Because everything is illuminated, it’s imperative that businesses strive for perfection in all things. Whenever you screw up, your customers will loudly pronounce your FAIL.

Your products and services will be publicly scrutinised. And having a good relationship with your customers doesn’t earn you an easy ride: your biggest fans will be your harshest critics. Everything is commented on, blogged and Tweeted. For the modern marketer, there is nowhere to hide.

The advertorial

Adverts need to be informative. To be informative, you need to have a genuine statement. Noisy propaganda is clearly just noisy propaganda. The product has to be great. The innovation must be genuine. If you want to advertise, get a product first.

(Picture courtesy of Takuya Oikawa)

Social Proof – what it is and why you need it


The web has an inherent problem for buyers. It’s impossible to tell trusted, respected businesses apart from cowboys, swindlers and snake-oil sellers. Unless you happen to know the business in question.

For most people, viewing most websites, they only know what is put in front of them. So if your business has a website, you need to appeal to the people you’ve never met, just as much as to the people you’ve already approached.

How do you make someone trust you?

You can’t make anyone do anything, but you can help them. Using Social Proof is a great way to build trust. Social Proof basically means showing people that other people have used your business successfully. People are herd animals and we need to feel that others have gone before us. It’s much easier to persuade someone to buy your product if you can persuade them that others have already bought your product.

I recommend using genuine testimonials. But go further. Don’t just use:

“This product is great!” – J. Hoppendoodle

Say who J. Hoppendoodle is, where they’re from, and provide a link to their website. Show that real people use your products and services by connecting your audience to those people. Let the roots of your social proof run deep. The more real you make your business the easier it will be to sell your wares.


I noticed with interest that the Wikpedia entry for Social Proof contains a note suggesting that the entry is merged with the entry for Bandwagon Effect. ‘Bandwagon effect’ is a useful way to think of Social Proof. It captures the notion that people will ‘jump on’ something that everyone else is jumping on, almost regardless of the underlying facts.

I don’t mean that I think people are mindless sheep- because I don’t. What I do think is that people need to feel they can trust you, and it’s wise to use Social Proof as a device for building trust.

Secondary benefits of Social Proof

Often, using Social Proof on the web has secondary benefits. Mentioning your clients’ names and websites means they get free publicity and you both get to advertise your mutual association. Possibly the biggest benefit to your clients is links. The SEO benefit of additional links is considerable, so using Social Proof also gives you a great opportunity to reward your clients.

(Picture courtesy of Cpeachok)

Address your reader – Copywriting tip #1


The best way to make your copy more appealing, more persuasive and more effective at selling is to address the person reading it.

Use ‘you’ wherever possible. You shouldn’t be afraid of addressing your reader. Be direct – speak to the human being that is reading your writing. All of your customers are people and they will appreciate being spoken to directly.

(Picture courtesy of And all that Malarkey)

Are corporations intrinsically evil?


Google has taken another step toward total world domination and become the first search engine in space.

I really like Google; I use lots of their applications and I genuinely admire their ethos: Don’t Be Evil.

But can a business, which is compelled to make profits to satisfy shareholders, ever guarantee that it won’t be evil?

Temptation this way comes

A business as large and powerful as Google will increasingly have opportunities to be evil. Will Google be able to maintain the pure, innocent and honest ethos that it started with?

I think it’s easy for small companies to be good. As companies grow they fall under greater external pressures. Does Google have a plan for ensuring that, regardless of who is in charge, Google doesn’t do evil?

(Picture courtesy of The Ritters)

The art of modern writing: are you stuck in the past?


Out with the old

Most people were taught that serious writing demands formality and the use of certain stock phrases. Such as:

  • I write with reference to…
  • Please find enclosed…
  • I hereby have the pleasure of…
  • It is with great regret that…

In with the new

Luckily, the world has moved on, away from this kind of formality. These days we can write as we speak. This relaxed freedom can be hard to adjust to. But keep trying.

Contractions in action

At school I was taught to write do not instead of don’t. For some reason, it was thought that contractions were acceptable in speech but not in writing. Thankfully, this has changed. People now accept that it’s weird to speak one language and write another. Most people use contractions in speech, so feel free to use them in business. You have my permission.


Another rule we were taught at school was to avoid repeating words. But, sometimes it’s useful to repeat words, such as when that word is the subject you’re writing about. Your writing will become strained if you struggle to use a different word for the same thing every time you mention it. So feel free to repeat words, particularly if doing so aids understanding.

(Picture courtesy of Laineys Repertoire)

My updated website design…


The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that my website has been renovated. Shaun Morrison, a Brighton Freelance Web Designer, has tidied up my WordPress theme. My site is now more compact, more cohesive and nicer to look at.

I can heartily recommend Shaun’s skills as a freelance web designer – he understands the kind of things that matter to me when it comes to web design – usability, simplicity and SEO.

Thanks Shaun!

Blogging pays off – the rewards of persistent blogging


I love copywriting here in Brighton, and I love blogging about copywriting, digital marketing and Brighton itself. At times I’ve even been slightly evangelical about the usefulness of blogging for businesses.

Is blogging worth the effort?

But I confess that I’ve had doubts. I’ve lost faith, and wondered whether blogging is a complete waste of time, if anyone is reading my posts, if anyone cares.

Luckily, before I could get disheartened, I received a flurry of positive feedback and several new clients – all as a result of my blog.

Hallelujah! – Blogging pays off

So I can personally attest to the useful of blogging as a marketing activity. It’s especially good as a way to let people get to know you. Your website may be very slick and beautifully designed, but it’s probably deeply impersonal. People buy from people, not beautiful websites. So you should use every opportunity to show your realness.

It seems that, in business, those that succeed tend to know people. Lots of people. The more people you know, the better. Networking is a key activity for most business people – but I think blogging works well alongside this personal contact.

(Picture courtesy of Minifig)

Why working in Brighton rocks…


I love working in Brighton. Why?

Because I can network at The Farm or Vine Brighton, communicate with a wide web of new media professionals via  the Brighton New Media email list (plus the BNM website is great for monitoring everyone’s blogs) and keep up with business matters and community affairs with Project Brighton, Sussex Digital and Wired Sussex.

But best of all is The Werks, Brighton’s best office space. Designed to meet the needs of freelancers and small businesses, The Werks combines normal office space with flexible coworking space for freelancers like me. So I can drop in and work whenever I need an office and some Wi-Fi. But the really great thing about The Werks is the friendly and helpful people who work there, and who create a space that is dynamic, innovative and nurturing.

If you work from home and ever fancy getting out and working with link-minded people, I urge you to give it a try.

On top of all that, there is the unique Brighton atmosphere: idiosyncratic, freewheeling, creative, coastal, fun-loving, passionate and bold.

(Picture courtesy of Mikelo)

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