I am currently reading How to Make Gravy, memoir of Aussie music poet (he’s not a fan of the bastardisation of the world ‘icon’), Paul Kelly. For anyone with unabashed, tween-like infatuation of lyrics like me, this book is something to be slowly savoured. Suffice to say I’m loving it so much it’s made it to my list of Ideal Dinner Guests – Alive, Dead (or Inanimate and Readable).
During his description of his foray into bluegrass, Kelly introduces us to the origin of the genre that was the out-of-wedlock progeny of folk and country music. Bluegrass came wailing into the world in the 1940s into the hands of Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys.
That's right: a whole genre named after one band.
Bill and his pose are the Hoover, Google, Xerox and Kleenex of a particular style of music; a proper noun that became so common it could also conceivably – in slang - become a verb (to bluegrass?) and a geographic reference (the bluegrass region).
Part of the genius was Bill’s popularity began when he innovated a product with an already established audience of consumers of folk and country music and re-invented it so beautifully that it sparked its own wave of devotees (Apple anyone?)
Bluegrass began with a banjo, an instrument that became synonymous with white, hillbilly country music but ironically originated in Africa. Combined with super-speedy banjo, some strutting mandolin and some smoking fiddle, these guys had listeners audibly gasping at this new style of old music.
The thing was, Bill Monroe played his music his way, yet did what he had to make it marketable (read: relatable and lovable) to his target audience:
Something was going on, all right. But canny Bill never forgot he was making music for farmers. Despite having left home (as all heroes must), he named his band after the native blue grass of his home state, Kentucky. None of his classic 1946 band came from there and he’d left for lack of opportunities, making his living in neighbouring states, but Kentucky became Bills idealised motherland, the pure wellspring. He crafted a myth of continuity, of the old mountain home, speaking of ‘ancient tones’ and presenting his music not as radical innovation but as a return to the source.
Kelly, Paul (2010). How to make gravy, Penguin Group (Australia)
Is how to make Branding.
When Nilofar (Nils) Walters first contacted me she had recently given birth to her third child and had decided that life wasn’t jam-packed with hectic goodness already so she might as well just go ahead and revamp and rebrand her successful photography business.
Ironically, ‘copywriting’ is a term that confuses some people. You would think that communicating its meaning would come with the job description but, like public relations, copywriting tries to make itself fancy with an official sounding title that really just muddies its meaning. In fact, copywriting is really just a grown up term for writing words and being given paid, direction as to what those words should achieve. One of my clients for whom I write a lot of corporate magazines regularly requests that I “fluff and finesse” articles (which is handy because I got a high distinction at Uni in Fluff and Finesse 201).
In her initial contact, Nils Walters from Perth-based, Art of Life Photography briefed me that she wanted help with the “wording aspects” of her website. Lucky again because wordy aspects are totally my thing too.
Despite her very full plate, Nils was a calm – almost serene – joy to work with. She gave me some examples of websites and photographers that inspired her and then we spent some time chatting about her and why she does what she does and what her clients get out of it. The rest of the process was a smooth flowing collaboration and it felt like her website wrote itself. Even across the telephone and internet lines, it was obvious to me how Nils goes about making beautiful creations borne from her easy way with people and working with them to get the best results.
You can see for yourself at Art of Life Photography:
Even if you are living under a rock, you are aware of Facebook - or at the very least, its premise. It's mobile now you know. If your rock doesn't have coverage scamper out for a bit and go here immediately. I think at last tally Facebook boasted 750 million active users worldwide and boasts further mind-blowing stats here.
Suffice to say, Facebook is a terrific and easy way to reach people. Especially if you're in business.
Suffice to say, Facebook is a terrific and easy way to reach people. Especially if you're in business.
If you’re anything like me, you like to keep a modesty sock between your personal and your business life. What works for everyone is different. For me, I like to have a personal account where my Friends constitute people I have actually, physically met and consider actual, old fashion,'you have something stuck in your teeth' comrades (I know, how very old world of me).
For business, I have a page. Facebook explains pages:
Pages are for organizations, businesses, celebrities, and bands to broadcast great information in an official, public manner to people who choose to connect with them. Similar to profiles, Pages can be enhanced with applications that help the entity communicate and engage with their audiences, and capture new audiences virally through friend recommendations, News Feed stories, Facebook events, and beyond.
When it comes to business use of Facebook, frankly, I don’t think there are many organisations out there that are using Facebook to its fullest potential. I’ve noticed content improving every week but at this stage I believe that most of us are still just feeling our way and the winning formula is yet to be discovered. However, with so many innovative thinkers out there and so many great ideas floating around we’re getting there.
My favourite Facebook pages are those that have struck a balance between self promotional and infotainment. In short, the Facebook page posts I look out for and religiously read demonstrate an understanding of their target market(s) and are hell bent on keeping them interested. A few that spring to mind:
- Triple J
- Tiffany & Co.
- aussieBum (disclaimer: I have a vested interest but I stand behind my admiration)
- Sydney Writers' Centre
“We were on TV/radio/in this magazine ... here’s a link to some audio/video/ image/text / website.” This type of post is essentially PR-ing your PR – or getting more bang for your PR buck. Get that extra mileage out of your media coverage. After all, there’s no point winking in the dark.
Provide interesting link-worthy online references that are either entertaining or educational. Memo to self: make sure link contents are consistent with your image and brand. If you don’t want to be associated with kooky or slightly crass You Tube videos, don’t post them (even if they are hilarious. Like the one with the double rainbow. (No, I’m still not sick of it).
Either your own meanderings or quote someone else who can eloquently express something you would like to say.
A little FIGJAM never goes astray. It is perfectly acceptable and expectable to plug your own new products, best sellers and success stories so long as these are not your only posts – or even the majority of your posts.
Even better. Who doesn’t love a bargain? If you’re offering something of worth to your target audience, you’re following the golden rule of social media; offer easily accessed value to people.
Raise awareness for charitable causes or endeavours you are affiliated with or personally support.
Facebook is an excellent way to lure more people to your website – especially if you have something new or controversial to say. Also, don’t forget to cross-pollinate by linking Facebook to Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and anywhere else you have an online presence.
Dear Diary ...
Providing detail after tedious detail about when you’re heading out to grab a soy latte or how messy your desk is can be TMI and off-putting. However, offering little titbits on the type of project you are working is a great way of showing what you can do.
Silly or funny personal observations about recent events, news topics or just life in general – self-deprecation is usually well-received.
Announcements of future plans, new services or events can encourage take-up, sign up and attendance.
Portfolio images or personal photos are another way to stand out in the news feed and another excellent way to show off your good work (and your mug!)
Ask questions or run a Facebook poll that inspires ideas, incites debate (monitor these closely) or encourages conversation through comments under your post. Often the simplest questions are the most popular (e.g. how hot is it where you live right now? Where did you go on your last holiday? Vegemite should be stored in .. a) the fridge b) the pantry?
Bring attention to your clients or affiliates by posting about their achievements and efforts. This is just another way you can bring extra value to your relationship with them.
Share your expertise and remind people why you are good at what you do.
The Golden Rules
To get the most out of Facebook for your business, the main things to remember are maintain a link with whatever you post and your brand – keep it consistent and relevant and mix things up. Build yourself a Facebook reputation based on educational, entertaining, beneficial posts that keep people interested and wondering what you’ll have to share next.
What I do
Colourful Words is a copywriting business with a social media service. Each client has individual requirements. Sometimes I provide advice on post ideas and guidelines and the type of social media they should utilise to complement their business objectives. I also write and edit Facebook posts, tweets and blogs (NB: I believe it is more important for a blog to demonstrate the expertise of a business than to be a literary masterpiece ... in fact, I think this would make a great tip to share via my Facebook page ... see).
What are your favourite Facebook pages?
Lady Gaga does Google Chrome.
Love The Gaga and love it when an advertiser makes it relevant and interesting for their target market. While the ad doesn't really show off exactly all Chrome can do, it gives a sense and with this audience? They'll figure the rest - and more - out for themselves.
Don't attempt any variations of a Welsh, Irish, Scottish or English accent unless you can pull it off. You'll just sound like a numpty otherwise.
What did you learn today?
(for Robert Mapplethorpe)
"Wild leaves are falling
Falling to the ground
Every leaf a moment
A light upon the crown
That we'll all be wearing
In a time unbound
And wild leaves are falling
Falling to the ground
Every word that's spoken
Every word decreed
Every spell that's broken
Every golden deed
All the parts we're playing
Binding as the reed
And wild leaves are falling
Wild wild leaves
As the campfire's burning
As the fire ignites
All the moments turning
In the stormy bright
Well enough the churning
When enough believe
The coming and the going
Wild wild leaves"
Wild Leaves - Patti Smith
“Everything changes, nothing remains without change.” - Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.
One of the most basic and fundamental teachings of Buddhism is change. Everything changes, nothing ever stays the same and real stability is an illusion.
Change can be a scary prospect – especially during great times and stretches of success. Yet, change can be an opportunity for improvement even if the trajectory following change is not immediately pointing sky high.
- Markets crash
- People leave
- People arrive on the scene
- New technologies create new consumer demands
- Bright ideas spark big opportunities
As providers of goods and services, we too change. We can grow, merge, franchise, lose business or become bored or disillusioned with certain facets of our offering.
WARNING: If you try to prevent your personal or business circumstances from changing, you will fail.
To thrive rather than survive it is better to brave up, figure out which direction change is about to hurtle us in, get your bearings and start steering your own course.
TIP: a simple starting point for presenting an alternative course in your business is to start with your website. Simply by tweaking the copy, firing up a new company introduction message or writing a blog, you can refresh the way your business represents itself. Stick your big toe in the waters of change and once you’ve sussed out what’s going to work for you, jump in with both feet.
In the words of David Bowie – turn and face the strain (ch-ch-changes!)
I'm strongly sensing they require the services of a dedicated, Australian copywriter and social media consultant. I'm also envisaging some intense strategy sessions.
Right off the bat, I'd recommended a strong image based presence using Flickr and the HMC You Tube Channel, a combination of hot images and witty posts on Facebook, pic linked posts on Twitter penned by Kravitz and possibly Clooney and a new branding campaign to launch their new strapline.
- Don't leave home without us
- Sheer perving pleasure
- If we had a beautiful body would you hold it against you?
- Handsome is good for you
- Say it with hotties
- Just do us
"and there´s gold falling from the ceiling of this world
falling from the heartbeat of this girl
falling from the things we should have learned
falling from the things we could have heard
falling from the people that we heard
falling from the love we never earned
falling from the sky that should have burned
falling from my heart"
And the Boys - Angus and Julia Stone
Who looks right? Who does not? Who are you selling to? What will they like?
Mulling; it’s not just for Christmas wine (and doesn’t have to be as unpalatable either ... yuk!)
When you are in the process of conjuring up words and pictures to represent you or your business, give it some time to evaluate their suitability.
Try on your words. Walk around with them on for a while to see if they fit. Look over the draft or design of your new collateral, website, invitations, t-shirts, tattoos - whatever. If something jars with you; it’s got to go.
Note: jarring is not the same as intriguing. If something stops you in your tracks and captures your attention, work out whether it is because it’s interesting or because it’s a wrong fit.
It’s like judging the Best and Worst Dressed list. You need to be discerning, appreciate styles and packaging that bring something unique to the fold and, where required, call a spade a mouldy old shovel.
Deliberation is taking ‘pause for thought’ – and the pause is almost as important as the thought.
Also Note: I said ‘pause’ not ‘three weeks to consider one paragraph of text which you then need to send to all your friends and extended family before deciding if you really like it’. Give yourself some time to churn it around in your mind, but don’t over think it. Go with your instinct. Take risks. Don’t be scared to be different. Don’t be so open-minded your brain falls out. When in doubt, be guided by the type of thing to which you think your customers and potentials might respond well.
A break in work – whether it be a lunch break, overnight, weekend or holiday* - is the perfect time to mull things over without even meaning to. It’s rare for me to go for a run or a gym workout without a solution to something work-related squat thrusting its way into my head (ewww .... that sounds wrong ... probably should have mulled over that metaphor a little more before using it).
A rested, refreshed mind brings fresh eyes to cast over the fine details within that big picture.
* On holiday, for the most part, let it go. Seriously. Believe it or not, there are things in this life that are way more important than business. Let ideas come to you in their own time in your down time rather than force them. It may also make you more endearing to your family/co-holidayers.