I wrote about Bluetooth a couple of years ago, and how it has become the dominant wireless technology in many applications. Itâ€™s been fascinating following its development over the last twenty years or so.
The excuse for mentioning it today is a new version of the standard thatâ€™sÂ just been announced, LE Audio, which aims to improve features for audio transmission and sharing, and to deliver better quality sound while using less power.
My first reaction to this announcement was to think that this is too much complexity, and too many options, for consumers to think about. Now, I see this announcement is targeted at OEMs and manufacturers â€“ consumers will only need to think about â€˜Bluetoothâ€™ as one thing, and it will just work better. Itâ€™s like Wi-Fi: almost everybody ignores all the variants and options, as long as it works reliably and efficiently.
Iâ€™m still not sure if Bluetooth is treading the right path between adding too many options and features, and staying simple enough. But its tremendous success, so far, suggests that the people behind it really know what theyâ€™re doing.
As copywriters, we spend our working lives toiling to be clearer, to be snappier, and to be more engaging. But sometimes the opposite is needed, and we have to write copy thatâ€™s as dull as ditch water â€“ and possibly as unclear.
Itâ€™s not something I have to do often, but occasionally itâ€™s required. For example, if you need to include lots of terms and conditions in a brochure, you probably donâ€™t want them to distract readers away from your key messages. Design and typography can help, but sometimes just making the words unappealing can mean they donâ€™t jump out at your audience on their first look.
You can see this happening in politics all the time, where answers to tough questions are deliberately unclear, long-winded and tedious. Particularly on radio or TV, the interviewer will be so desperate to keep their audience interested, they wonâ€™t follow up and demand clarification, but will move on to another question.
Iâ€™m not suggesting marketing copywriters use that kind of tactic, but itâ€™s certainly interesting to observe how others do it.
Sports commentating isn’t the most obvious source of inspiration for copywriters like me, but it can provide some valuable lessons when we sit down at the keyboard and start typing.
Specifically, when you listen to a football match or other sport on the radio, the commentator has to paint a picture with words, if you can pardon the clichÃ©, so their listeners know what’s going on.
In a similar way, if you’re writing words to describe something, and you haven’t got any images to help, then you need your reader to be confident they can visualize what’s being written about.
I always used to wonder why radio commentators tell us which team is playing left to right and vice versa â€“ surely it depends which side of the pitch you’re looking from? I now think this is just a subtle tactic to help us form a mental picture of the game.
Similarly, try including more concrete, tangible descriptions in your copywriting, even if they’re not strictly needed. If your readers can easily ‘see’ what you’re describing, they’ll read further and pay more attention. I tried to do this in my first sentence above â€“ when I mention sitting down and typing. Did it work?
Whatever your personal views, I think youâ€™d agree that politics in the UK (and the USA) is going through a tricky phase. There is a higher degree of confrontation, argument and abuse than I remember ever seeing.
As a result, there are various leading political figures calling for calm, and for a more respectful, kinder approach.
I think itâ€™s important we remember these same values in our day-to-day business dealings. In the 25+ years Iâ€™ve been working in writing and marketing, Iâ€™ve been lucky â€“ Iâ€™ve very rarely faced outright hostility from other people. Iâ€™ve been shouted and sworn at a few times, but to be honest they were probably deserved.
My concern is that the confrontational climate of todayâ€™s politics will spill over into other areas of our lives. Instead, we all have a responsibility to be polite and respectful, to argue our points forcefully but based on evidence not prejudice, and to give other people the benefit of the doubt without judging.
In short, to be kind whenever we can.
I realise Iâ€™ve been blogging here now for more than seven years, and somehow, Iâ€™ve omitted to mention the self-help or business book which has had the biggest impact on me.
Itâ€™s an obvious choice, but â€˜Getting Things Doneâ€™ by David Allen is a classic.
The author has developed it into a whole industry nowadays, with training, stationery, and an online version. But theÂ original bookÂ stands up well, and is well worth reading. It’s genuinely improved my productivity and reduced my workplace stress, andÂ I use its methods every day.
I read aÂ really informative postÂ recently by a copywriter called Megan Rose, all about how to price your services as a freelance copywriter. Itâ€™s well worth a read, and has a long list of useful links at the end.
Itâ€™s a tricky subject, and I think many of us writers are a little embarrassed to bring it up with clients, but getting your price right is essential.
Going back to marketing theory, you can price your work based on its perceived value to the client, or based on your â€˜costsâ€™ (which means time for freelance writers), or you can benchmark against others (comparison pricing). Thereâ€™s also pricing by the word.
The consensus of other contributors to Meganâ€™s blog seems to be: donâ€™t under-value yourself, be flexible, and do your research to find out what the going rates are, when possible. Then get the price (and any other conditions) in writing, either a signed contract or failing that at least an email.
For me, I find quoting a fixed price for each job gives the best results both for the client and for myself â€“ they can see what theyâ€™re going to have to pay up-front, and I can quote a fair price (which is usually based on my estimate of how long the job will take â€“ or might be on a per-word basis). If we canâ€™t agree on a price, we know before any work is done or time wasted.