How to make your business not stand out
(This post discusses the content published in Beware the Brand in a Box: Part 1.You're more than welcome to read this without reading that first, but the chances are that it won't make much sense. Just click on the link above and we‘ll see you here again in three minutes. Don't worry, we'll wait.)
So, Empty Words (made-up name). Not just another digital marketing agency...
Nope. It’s a No Limits Agency.
What does that mean exactly?
Zilch. Nada. Jack Shit. Not a fucking thing.
Now, you may think we've made all this up to prove our point. You may think you would never see so many clichés in one website – sandwiching in passion, commitment, expertise and insight like an overfilled club sandwich.
Alternatively, you may just want the contact details of the real agency as they seem right up your street. (If this is the case, email us and we can discuss. And commiserate.)
As we said, this is real copy developed for a website, and yet it tells you nothing about them or what they do. It is filled with phrases that seem to mean something, but on reflection, are merely vague soundbites, without qualification.
If you disagree with this and feel it is an unfair and overcritical summary, that is because your brain is registering phrases it has seen before. It is then using that recognised environment as context, to infer definitions and meaning it has seen before.
None are there.
We will happily bet the lives of our children on it. And not just the ugly children we ignore at family occasions, the children we actually like.
How can we be so Machiavellian with our gambling stakes?
Well we haven't lied to you. But we may have omitted a small point or two. We didn't write the copy - it really is real - but the website itself isn't live. At least, not this version of the website (more on that later).
It is currently sitting on the Dev platform where it has been created, in its entirety, by the artificial intelligence programme of a web building platform. All the content, imagery and design are computer-generated. And it's done a damn fine job of it.
As we said, we changed (well, we chose) the company name. And we selected the sector - which was nothing more than choosing the word 'Marketing’. (Think for a second just how wide a field that covers.) Oh, and we selected a template that would pick up colours and fonts.
But that was it. No more detail. No background. No speciality. Not a single piece of information more.
So the reason the copy can’t tell you what the agency does, is because the author doesn't know what the agency does. Because we didn't tell it what the agency does.
And yet, it didn't really seem to matter.
So commonplace and unquestioned are the clichés that fall out of each sentence that - unless we challenge ourselves to understand the lack of substance behind them - the agency is unlikely to be dismissed out of hand.
The good thing about having no emotional draw, branding or personality is that, though there's nothing to like, there's also nothing to dislike. And it feels familiar.
But is being "not hateable" and "familiar" something businesses should aspire to be? Are these traits enough to achieve customer engagement for the long-term?
Customers deserve more.
Maybe you think the site created for Empty Words was too much of a pastiche and the wording too hackneyed to ever be seen in the real world. Even if we changed the name to something less self-mocking.
Well, let's see...
If you asked Google for a No Limits Agency...
You will get 166 million results.
If you wanted more than just a marketing agency...
You would struggle to find an agency who is just anything.
And if you really liked the sound of the Empty Words services...
There are plenty of people offering exactly the same. We mean, exactly.
These are just a few examples we grabbed. Choose any phrase, tell Google you 'feel lucky' and you may find your next agency partner.
The Artificial Intelligence isn't the problem here, Neither are the businesses using it to generate their copy (as in the third picture). At least these businesses are actively deciding to take this route; presumably making the most of the skills they have, and using the services available to help with the skills they don't.
The fault lies with the people who are writing the copy against which the AI is competing. The people who have first hand experience of what the business is really like. Who have the benefit of being human. Yet these people write with no more truth, no more personality, no more humanity than a computer.
Go back and read about Empty Words again. If you think that copy is the way forward then may your God go with you.
If this is all that can be said about the company you work for, then the chances are you don’t really know what they do. And, by association, what you really do.
Now more than ever, it’s time we dropped the excuses.
If you can’t explain to your Mum what your business pays you to do, how can you ask a customer to pay you to do it.
1 Extra Word writes copy and develops content that humanises businesses to thank, help, reward - and generally flirt with - their customers, prospects and employees.
Whatever your brief, if you think people should enjoy your emails, socialise your social posts and have fun with your FAQs, visit 1ExtraWord.com.
For freelance copywriting that turns bland content into brand content.