Sure, a tech show might not seem like the most obvious place to find a copywriting agency. It’s the kind of place you’d find exciting tech start-ups, new software providers and amazing new devices. But, we’re not just a copywriting or marketing agency. We specialise in messaging, tone of voice and copywriting for tech companies.Read More
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If you’ve followed us on Twitter, met any of the three of us for a meeting or a coffee, or attending any of the networking events Martin speaks at, chances are that you’ll have heard two words in close proximity to Hampson Nattan Williams:
Creative NorthRead More
I think a lot about feedback. Why a certain piece of copy works. Why it meets a brief, why it delivers a return on investment, why it strikes the right tone, and why it convinces and compels a reader.
Or why it doesn’t.Read More
You’ll doubtless have heard that Abraham Lincoln line.
"Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I'll spend four hours sharpening the axe."
Preparation. Preparation. Preparation.
Which makes it strange that people just launch into a new business or marketing project without putting the fundamentals in place. Without making the blade zing.
Eyes fixed firmly on the tech, the tools and the build, businesses often overlook the fundamentals - the messaging and even before messaging, their tone of voice.
Don’t fall into that trap too.
Whenever the blunt bladed fools rush headlong into The White-Hot Furnace Of Delusion be sure you’re not one of them.
And while many pay lip service to the importance of a defined tone of voice, few study close enough or dive deep enough to reap the real rewards:
Trust: When you’re being constantly evaluated a clear and consistent tone helps you create the right impression. It calms your audience. It smooths friction. It connects. You’re steady. You’re reliable. You’re trustworthy. You’re the expert.
Congruence: Life’s so much simpler for you and your clients when those who may contribute to your messaging; the members of your marketing team, your technical experts, your legal and financial people, your PR and your freelancers all apply a unified tone of voice.
Performance: Confident, comfortable clients are happy clients. Happy clients are more invested, they complain less, they tell more people more nice things about you, they spend more money with you. They help your business grow in ways you may not have even imagined.
Positioning: When you carefully reflect on the language you use to represent your business, when you make conscious decisions about language, you begin to understand your clients better and you begin to understand your business better - the ways you project, the ways you’re perceived, the way you position yourself. Your tone of voice gives you the clarity and consistency to reveal your value and your expertise.
Time to sharpen up your tone of voice?
We’ve a whetstone waiting.
Here’s an admission for you.
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I’ve worked in-house for two agencies.
I’ve run a successful freelance copywriting business.
I’ve written hundreds of thousands of pages of website copy, audio scripts, sales letters…
The process is simple. It’s a straight line.
Brief > Market Research > Draft > Client Feedback > Live
Sometimes the line’s longer.
Brief > Market Research > Draft > Client Feedback > Draft > Client Feedback > Live
As far as processes go, it works. To a point.
One writer giving his best effort, a client giving her opinions, and content that’s at best a combination of the two and at worst a compromise.
The first thing we decided to do when we launched Hampson Nattan Williams was to improve that process.
More chances to hone the message. More opportunities to add real-world data. More opportunities to improve the copy.
A process that isn’t just a line.
What we came up with was this:
The only thing we kept was the brief.
Three Strands of Research
The first thing we did was open up the research. Three strands, bringing in input from key sources.
End User Interviews
End users are overlooked in a linear process. The writer might draft up a persona, an idealised version of the end user, based on feedback from the clients, but the target audience isn’t involved until the copy is live.
We’ve put the target audience first. In-depth conversations with past or existing customers. What do they like? What don’t they like? What do they think is important?
Turns out that customers don’t always want what you think they want.
In-Depth Sector Research
No business operates in a vacuum.
What your competitors say, or don’t say, is just as important as what you say. If all of the businesses in a niche are telling the world they’re offering the most reliable product on the market, using that same pitch just adds another bullshitter to the pile.
If everyone is fighting to get through the front door, the right research can often show that there’s a side entrance that a different message can just skip through.
Key Stakeholder Interviews
Only sole traders know every single inch of their business.
By opening up interviews to bring in feedback from key stakeholders throughout a business, from the boardroom to the shop floor, we’re able to understand everything that a company offers to customers.
Every organisation has hidden insight at every level of the business. It’s our job to uncover those insights.
Taking the Right Tone
Having the right research is a good start. But it’s only a start.
A message lives or dies on tone of voice.
It’s how a message is delivered. How it’s heard. How it’s understood.
By taking the time to fully discover and define a brand’s tone of voice during a full day workshop, we’re able to make sure that messages always hit the mark.
Improving the Draft
Copy by committee doesn’t work.
It never has. It never will.
But how can an agency with access to three of the leading copywriters in the UK leave it to just one of them to deliver a draft?
That’s the problem we faced. Trying to pour all of the knowledge and expertise we have into every single piece of work, without ending up with a draft that looks like it was pieced together by a committee.
That’s why we implemented a copy peer review.
Every first draft is written the way a first draft should be. By a single writer, taking responsibility for the message.
Then it’s handed on for review and editing. Feedback from multiple writers to hone every single sentence.
All the client needs to do is check it for accuracy. Then it’s ready to publish. By taking the responsibility for editing and feedback from the client and handing it to professionals, we ensure that every draft is as good as it can be.
Data Driven Copy
Why is it that a copywriter’s involvement with the content ends just when the content’s work is only beginning?
Hampson Nattan Williams didn’t want to hand over a draft, collect our payment and walk away.
When the content starts work, so does our analysis process.
Split testing, performance tracking and continual improvements mean that content is constantly honed and updated to ensure that it’s delivering the best possible return on an investment.
It’s an approach that ensures every word we write wins business.