Google’s Your Mom, Mobile’s Dead, and Other Future Predictions from June, 2015

sunofficeI woke up this morning and realized I hadn’t predicted the future yet this year.

I meant to do it in January but I forgot.

In January of 2014, I predicted what the world of tomorrow will look like.

Among other things, I predicted that:

  • Google will build androids
  • Wearables are the future – specifically, those creepy things you put on your face
  • We’ll slowly start sinking into a virtual reality
  • Augmented reality will become a veil of tears that separates us more and more from actual reality
  • Our current fragmented attention spans will fragment even further
  • We’ll see AI
  • We’ll see more military bots
  • We’ll see more sex bots

So far, all of my predictions are right on track.

So let’s look at tomorrow, today – June 11, 2015.

Tomorrow: Video, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality…

Get ready…

Yep, it’s coming.

Well, technically speaking, it’s already here. It’s just not mainstream yet.

Companies are investing billions in virtual reality technology. Facebook spent $2 billion on Oculus Rift, the world’s leading VR company, and Google invested almost $550 million in Magic Leap, augmented reality (AR) tech that projects holographic images directly into your eyeball.

Digi-Capital predicts that these industries could be worth $150 billion by 2020.

Elsewhere, I’ve written in-depth about augmented reality, how augmented reality will impact marketing, and how video is transforming the internets. Those articles take a practical look at how these industries will impact our world in the next few years. And they clearly prove that my prior predictions are chugging along quite nicely.

Don’t believe me? Watch this video and skip ahead to 2:30:00.

 

 

This video clearly demonstrates the precursor of tomorrow. As I mentioned last year, if you want a real glimpse of the future, watch Ghost in the Shell.

Or watch this.

Google’s Your New All-Seeing-Eye-Mom-Personal-Assistant…Who Wants to Market to You…From Inside Your Eyeballs

Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and all the rip-offs you see on the app stores are trying to become your personal, virtual assistants. You’ve probably heard people complain that computers do so much work that people don’t need to think any more. After all…

  • If you want to write a paper on a classic of literature, simply look up the summary online or buy a pre-written essay.
  • Don’t wanna do math? Just plug it into Wolfram Alpha.
  • Too lazy to write down a to-do list? Just download Wunderlist…or ask Siri to remind you.
  • Too busy to log in to your airline to check your flight times? Just ask Google Now. Heck, Google Now can even track flight prices for you.
  • Want to know how many calories are in a Red Bull? Don’t bother typing it in to a search engine (that’s so much work!) – instead, ask Siri.

32What many people fail to realize is the depth of data acquisition that tech companies go to in order to produce these modern luxuries that we just can’t live without.

Google and Facebook both unscrupulously stalk the sh!t out of you and hunt down, absorb, and dissect every bit of information about you that they can. From your clicks to your website behavior and your social media interests, they scrutinize every millisecond and move and develop detailed psychological profiles that they use to better market to you.

Think it’s a coincidence that that shoe ad follows you around the web?

Or that that Starbucks coupon showed up when you were a mere 100 feet from the store?

Nope.

In response to widespread criticism and concern by privacy advocates and people who actually know who Snowden is, both companies have been increasing their “privacy controls.” But it’s important to note that tech companies and marketing companies require data in order to generate profits – so protecting your privacy actually opposes their business models.

Though they claim to have your best interests at heart, their responses are mostly just palliatives aimed at appeasing European governments and concerned masses.

Don’t believe me?

  • watch-756487Apple Watch can and does track everything from your heart rate to your altitude to how much time you spend walking, sitting, running, and exercising.
  • Google wants to put ads in front of your eyeballs 24/7. Think I’m thinking ahead? Think With Google…Google patented headset technology that actually measures pupil dilation and how long your eyeballs look at an ad. “Pay-per-gaze” is a new advertising compensation format that charges advertisers based on how long you look at an ad…and this is all for technology that hasn’t even hit the mainstream yet.
  • Photos used to be out of Google’s reach, but not any more…so photos you post online will be able to be read, understood, and processed by Google – or any other tech company. Just look at Facebook’s creepy auto-tagging feature.
  • Amazon’s Firefly technology can understand and recognize video.

In other words, anything you put online – writing, photos, audio, or video – will be read, cataloged, understood, and processed by the tech giants…all so they can better market to you.

The Day After Tomorrow: Mobile Will Die…

minecraft-529460And be reborn as AR and VR.

This is the whole reason I started writing this post and I almost forgot about it.

In case you haven’t noticed, I pay a bit of attention to AR and VR, both of which are going to radically change the world we live in. Again, look at that video clip of the HoloLens. That’s a paltry precursor to what the world will look like sometime in the next few decades. When AR tech can be plugged into glasses or contact lenses, we’ll have an augmented layer that seamlessly slides between ourselves and the real world.

So much for all that money you dumped into your responsive website and iPhone app…

Mobile sites will probably never die, but AR and VR will probably devour much of the market share we see taken up by apps.

FYI, smartphones are the de facto device for people living in emerging markets. Cambodians or Africans who’ve never seen a desktop own smartphones and have Facebook accounts. And it’s not uncommon – it’s the norm. Having lived in Cambodia for months on end, I know that most of the country can’t afford smartphones now. But neighbors like Thailand can. And as these markets emerge into tomorrow, they’ll have smartphones.

And when you have utterly cheap products like Google Cardboard, which are likely produced in countries like Cambodia, you’ve got…

VR for Everyone on the Planet

Zuckerberg wants everyone to be connected to the internets. Not out of generosity or goodwill – the guy’s obviously just another Silicon Valley sociopath – but so everyone can be connected to the Facebook money machine.

With Google Cardboard, Google not only gives easy DIY VR device to anyone with a smartphone, it also gives VR to people who can’t afford Oculus Rift headsets or the upcoming Magic Leap AR headsets. This is something I could be wrong about, but I foresee emerging markets and poverty-stricken people around the world escaping their reality by strapping smartphones to their faces with Google Cardboards and mass-cheaply-3D-printed VR headsets.

Which brings me to 3D printers…

3D Printers will Print Drones that Deliver Your Pizzas and New Organs in 30 Minutes…Or Your Money Back!

letters-418634I printed out a 3D skull at Mojo Coworking in Asheville.

The guy that runs the 3D printers there told me that some of the higher-end machines can also print metal. So, of course, they’ll become more sophisticated in the next few years and decades.

Now, I don’t really follow 3D printing as much as I do AR and VR and digital marketing, but expect the entire world to change in ways we probably can’t imagine:

So how will this technology change the world?

Well, along with nanotechnology – which promises everything from self-cleaning windows and stay-fresh running gear to innovative cancer treatments – it will reshape the entire industrial world, the manufacturing industry, and the supply chain. Quality of life for many will be drastically altered for the better, and we’ll have access to more technology and luxury than we could have ever imagined possible.

But…

There Are a Few Problems

I realize I’m being a bit ranty and dystopian with this post, but there’s a major problem with the worldview being marketed to us by Silicon Valley: it paints a rosy picture of tomorrow based on technological utopianism…the idea that technology will solve all of our problems. They do this, obviously, because that type of propaganda makes the more money.

The antidote?

A healthy bit of realism…

1. Idiots run the show.

tie-690084Zuckerberg and the Google guys didn’t get to where they were by being nice guys with normal lives and human-centric causes. They’re profiteering capitalists who only care about the game they’re playing…which happens to be based on the extraction and exploitation of your data.

Do you really want planet Earth to be helmed by guys like Zuckerberg and Paige and Eric Schmidt (see this funny article, It Looks Like Eric Schmidt Closed His Instagram Account After It Was Revealed He Followed Lots Of Half-Naked Women) and the Uber CEO?

Well, not much we can do about it. Especially if we pretend like their “visions” and agendas will result in a tech-fueled utopia.

2. Automation will demolish our current economic structure.

Here are some examples of technological revolutions that will change manufacturing, the workforce, and so on:

  • Self-driving cars will put huge chunks of the transportation industry out of business. Uber, already a threat to taxi companies around the world (which could fight back if they’d develop their own stupid apps already) has self-driving cars in the works.
  • Robotic manufacturing will put huge chunks of the industrial workforce out of business. Heck, Amazon’s already using robots in its warehouses.
  • Just think how many white collar jobs 3D printing will create…and how many blue collar jobs it will kill.
  • Nanotechnology will do the same…after all, why hire a window cleaner when you can print self-cleaning windows and have an Amazon drone deliver them to your home in 30 minutes?

The IT industry will keep expanding as more people come online, which is good if you’re a computer nerd, but bad if you’re in an industry that will be automated away.

Businesses that want to stay alive will need to follow these trends with AR and VR. Currently, it’s already necessary to have a website, a LinkedIn account, a Google account, and, for some, an app…just project this trend into tomorrow and see how it will change with AR and VR. When everyone in the first-, second-, and third-worlds have the internets planted directly in their eyeballs, you’ll have to have your own AR and VR sites and storefronts.

3. Half the human population will live inside VR.

skyscraper-418189_1920The average American spends 7 and a half hours in front of a screen. The average Indonesian spends 9 hours. For many, though, who want to stay on the cutting edge of productivity and technology, that number is much higher.

So we’re already spending half our days immersed in a virtual reality.

Imagine what things will look like in 10, 20, and 30 years, when AR and VR are the new portals to the interwebs and you need to be online in order to stay competitive. Why even leave home?

When technology automates the work world even further, we’ll be forced to become more and more a part of that virtual world – unless you want to paint houses for a living. Something tells me human labor will be cheaper than robot labor for jobs like that…

4. What about global warming?

The question running through a business person’s mind is: how can I profit from this?

They can’t…yet…which is why no one’s investing in solar power and other sustainable industries (though, according to this guy, no one’s investing in solar power because people are stupid).

Okay, I think I’ve ranted enough.

These are just a few of the changes we should expect to see in the next few years and decades.

But what will tomorrow’s tomorrow’s tomorrow look like?

The Day After the Day After Tomorrow: GUIs in Your Brain…And Your Blood

110822_3306_3There’s a grand future awaiting us all:

  • Headsets and contact lenses that project virtual reality directly onto your retina will give way to chips in your brain, or, as I like to call them, neural user interfaces (NUIs). And, yes, the precursors of mind control tech are already here. Again, watch Ghost in the Shell.
  • Neural User Interfaces will probably give way to internet-connected nanotechnology that floats around in your bloodstream. Why not just make this nanotech part of the water supply? That way everyone will be forced to create a Gmail account whether they like it or not.
  • While we’re on the topic of bloodstreams infused with nanobots…wouldn’t it be easy to get all your drugs from an implant? I already conceived of this a while ago. Used in conjunction with Google, the all-seeing-eye-mom-butler-virtual-personal-assistant, you wouldn’t even need to worry about buying drugs yourself or even visiting a doctor – Google could virtually diagnose you and dose you as needed.
  • I almost forgot about human-ish androids. Like Google Glass, Westerners are probably freaked out by the concept. But not all countries are so skittish about the future…Japan sure loves its dolls and androids. It’s a toss-up to which company is more creepy: Google or Facebook. Of the two, Google seems to have less of a problem with overt creepiness. Facebook has better anti-creepy marketing. So it looks like Google will be the ones to run with it. We’ll probably have to go to Japan for our sexbots though…

 

While my vision of tomorrow’s tomorrow’s tomorrow may seem slightly dystopian, I just like to be realistic.

Social robots like Zuckerberg and idiots like Eric Schmidt and Bush will continue to run things, whether we’re flying through space on ships captained by AI, bathing in globally warmed gutter rivers next to a sea of trash, or relaxing on a rooftop luxury cabana overlooking the vast cityscape with clones of superstars fanning us with palm leaves and feeding us with nanobot-produced grapes.

Copywriting & PS4: The Pyramid Scheme

Playstation Ethos

according to PS4…because reality is apparently too boring…

Warning.

This is a long article.

I love long articles.

How else can you really go in-depth?

I love long attention spans, long sentences, long blog posts, long books, long headlines, long commercials, long-tail search, and long hair. My last blog post was merely a pre-amble to a long-planned long-term series of blog entries, but I decided to wrap that crap up now and here, for a few reasons I’ll get into later and somewhere else.

Copywriting, like everything else in the universe, is based on the shape and scheme of a pyramid. The top of the pyramid is the goal of your writing, and the rest of your writing supports that goal. The goal is the eye on the top, the next couple bricks are the headline, the next layer is the first sentence, the next layer is the first paragraph, and if they’re still reading by then you’re lucky, or really good. Each successive sentence and paragraph supports the previous ones.

From the Playstation Ethos commercial

From the Playstation Ethos commercial

Copywriting is writing with a goal. You don’t just write coherently with good grammar, as the SEO clients request, you write to capture attention and influence the reader. This kind of writing takes a lot of time and crafting, and a long attention span, and, incidentally, that’s not really how I write this, my personal blog. I write my personal blog mostly to have fun and experiment and practice writing, and transmit high quality ideas to other people who have long attention spans. But mostly to do my personal work and have fun.

After all, as Noah Bradley says, if you don’t do your personal work, you go crazy. And since my personal work tends to be long, it’s not the best place to advertise my copywriting, which, as mentioned, is designed to capture attention quickly.

Take Twitter, for example, which limits tweets to 140 characters. Copywriting at its finest! The Twitter playground reminds me of the Wall Street stock exchanges, with thousands of loose neck-tied professionals screaming and yelling at banks of monitors. You have exactly 140 characters to capture someone’s attention. If you can’t do it, tweet again. And again. And again. And again. And…oops!

You’ve annoyed them too much and now they unfollowed you. One exclamation point too many. Capturing attention is not an art form, as many internet marketers would fart. To say something is an “art form” means nothing. I prefer the term “craft” over “art.”

Playstation wants you to play

Playstation wants you to play

“Art” in my world means creativity, spontaneity, and the opposite of science, which is calculations based on proof. “Craft” is a balance of both art and science. Carpentry is a good example of a craft. You have a pre-defined amount of space and material to create an aesthetitically pleasing, yet functional object.

Writing can be art, science, crap, or craft, depending on its function. But goal-oriented copywriting is craft, which, because it has goals, implies design.

I hinted at this in my last blog post with the PS4 commercial analysis, For the Players Since 1995. That particular commercial was designed for a specific purpose, i.e., to support the slogan, “This is for the players,” which slogan was, in turn, designed to support the marketing strategy in the Great War of the PS4 vs. the Xbox One.

Let’s take a look at this ad to see why the Xbox One is about as dry as the Arizona desert.

 

Now watch this and see why, in comparison to the PS4, the bland Xbox One does not deserve a place in history or anyone’s living room, anywhere, ever.

 

As we can see, there is a slight difference in the ad campaigns, but some of you might be saying, “What does any of your rambling have anything to do with anything anywhere ever?”

Others may be saying, “Okay, so their ad campaign sucks, so what? Xbox One’s still a good device. It still has cool games and does pretty much the same thing that the PS4 does.”

Hi, I'm old and boring

Hi, I’m old and boring

If all things are pretty much equal, then I would not choose Xbox One, based on how much care and effort they didn’t put into their campaign. I think it’s quite amazing that Sony, some no-name whatever company from some little island off China, has managed to create a gaming device that is outselling Microsoft. After all, the USA dominates the world, and Microsoft has dominated the USA’s technology industry for a long time, yet Sony has created the most amazing place to imagine and play: the Playstation Nation.

Supporting the PS4, powering this David’s rise to meet the Goliath of the Xbox One, lies their energetic marketing campaign, which supports on one copywritten slogan, “This is for the Players.”

At the end of For the Players Since 1995, we see the slogan directly beneath the name of the device, PS4.

Me too.

Me too.

Everything in the ad has been specifically designed to support that slogan, and that slogan has been carefully crafted specifically to support that device, the PS4. In the same way that the slogan supports the name, the whole commercial works together to support the slogan. Therefore, the ad supports campaign supports the slogan supports the device name supports the device itself supports the salaries of the people at Sony etc.

Thus, we can see how the design-oriented disciplines in marketing and advertising, such as copywriting, are shaped like a pyramid, just like everything else in the universe.

PS4: For the Players Since 1995

My last post analyzed a couple commercials from the PS4 and Xbox One campaigns, and in this post I’ll pick up with the PS4 commercial, titled on YouTube, “For the Players Since 1995.” This ad is so detailed and well-crafted that it would take a thesis paper to analyze everything inside it. But we’ll just scratch the surface, to get a rough idea of the kind of work that goes into good copywriting and advertising.

This commercial, of course, represents the culmination of the work of a slew of people, including copywriters, marketers, designers, filmmakers, actors, and so on. These types of commercials are fun to analyze, and a useful way to better understand copywriting. The creation of these commercials involves the same essential process as copywriting: design. In fact, this is the goal of most writing, which is why different “types” of writing skills are so transferable. They all involve the same essential design process.

But on to the commercial.

“For the Players Since 1995” is a coming of age tale, a tragedy, a romance, a bromance, a story of heartbreak, and a story of adventure. We follow Daniel from his high school years to his post-college years, and throughout the ad, the Playstation acts as a centerpiece and an anchor in the storm of Daniel’s normal life. While he grows older, friends and girlfriends come and go, but the Playstation remains.

I can’t emphasize enough the extreme level of detail the creators put into this commercial. To get a glimpse of this, count the number of red and white objects you see in the first thirty seconds. And then count how many objects and symbols you see recycled throughout the commercial. For example, you’ll see a number of guitars, bicycles, Playstations, TVs, Domino’s Pizza boxes, signed shirts, and so on.

 

 

Most of the commercial’s Playstation “eras” are accompanied by band posters — such as Blur, Kasabian, and Tinie Tempah — that indicate the time period. Signed shirts denote Daniel’s graduation from high school, university, and then something else, perhaps a dojo. There are color scheme changes, lighting shifts, and musical shifts, which act to change the mood and transition the story into new life periods. The dialogue bits are windows into the players’ lives, and each little interaction suggests backstory.

Girl’s hand shoots up to Token’s hand. The poster on the wall timestamps this PS3 “era.”

For instance, at around 2:24, as the camera leaves the player party and pans back to the PS3 and TV, the girl’s hand jumps up to Token’s hand at the controller (the black guy). Why? To suggest some love interest, obviously. Maybe this level of detail sounds a bit extreme, and maybe I am reading a bit too much into an innocent action, but the director told her to do that for a reason. When you sit down and actually look at some of the commercials being fed to us on a daily basis, you will start to notice some extreme attention to detail. Lots and lots and lots of work goes into the creation of a commercial like this.

Everything in the commercial is designed with a specific purpose; the commercial has been engineered to support the “This is For the Players” mantra, the latest battle cry of the Playstation Nation. This five-word slogan did not come out randomly at the water cooler or on the toilet. Like all good copywriting, it was crafted over a period of time and takes into account the bigger marketing strategy, the business aims, and the audience. “This is For the Players” is designed to fulfill a specific strategic function, as mentioned in my last post, just as each detail of this ad is designed to create a specific impression on the viewer.

Two red, black, & blue jackets plus a Domino's box

Two red, black, & blue jackets plus a Domino’s box on the left

In the opening PS1 sequence, you may have noticed a large number of red and white objects, which all but disappeared in the later sequences — until, that is, the very final image of the ad, when you see a red and white race car skidding into the future. The PS2 color palette cools down a bit, and in the PS3 sequence, you notice more objects which are red, blue, and black. By the time the final sequence has arrived, Daniel’s apartment is cleaner, more modern, and the modern feel is reinforced by a futuristic blue and purple palette.

Attempts to overanalyze the purpose or the “why” behind the color schemes and significance of the objects might yield some interesting ideas, but it would often just be an exercise in speculation, since only the creators really know the answer to such questions. For example, I could attempt to draw parallels between the red-white-and-blue of the Domino’s boxes and the British flag that appears a million times, or the significance of the guitars and bicycles as objects that thematically suggest playfulness and competition. Such analysis and speculation is a useful way to study copywriting, but there’s no point getting caught up in circumstantial theory.

The abundance of detail put into this ad, and the PS4 ad campaign as a whole, indicate an assertive, knowledgeable approach to their campaign and their target audience. Every time you watch this commercial you will see something new, and that goes quadruple for the Players. I can’t even begin to count the number of game references in this ad.

This ad is one of the more interesting and carefully constructed commercials from which to study high quality copywriting and advertising. I suggest watching it at least one more time. You will certainly notice new things each time you watch it.

 

And after you watch it again, watch this:

 

 

Obviously not all commercials are created equal.

 

 

Copywriting: PS4 & Xbox One Showdown

This copywriting leaves no doubts in your mind. You know exactly what this place is about.

Not the most grammatically correct English, but you know exactly what this place is about.

My little post about why you shouldn’t write how-not-to articles has a parallel in the world of copywriting. The examples I’ve linked to all have something in common with bad copywriting: Don’t Tell it Like it Isn’t,  as Tom Albrighton of ABC Copywriting so succinctly summed it up. The most vivid example in his article — for me at least — is the gym poster by Nuffield Health, and their dead-end slogan, “The gym. It’s changed.” You look at the poster and have no idea what they’re talking about. The entire ad epitomizes what not to do when writing, copywriting, or designing ad campaigns. This particular design reminds me of a teenager suffering from an identity crisis. “I don’t know what I am but I’m not that. I’m different. But I’m still cool.”

A piece of writing, copywriting, or an ad campaign should know what it is about and be able to sell itself to you. Let’s take a look at some better examples of copywriting.

 

Good vs. Evil, Right vs. Wrong, PS4 vs. Xbox One

Kids are cool and different, adults are not. This is the reason video game companies shouldn’t advertise to old people. Albrighton noted that almost half of PS3 owners were over 34, and suggested a few reasons why old people would be a good demographic to target. There’s a number of problems with this, I think, and they all revolve around age and the perception of cool, video games as being a “kids’ thing,” and adults as being uncool. There is a certain age where we all begin to lose our cool, until one day you wake up, look in the mirror, and realize that you are old and not cool. So if you run a campaign that markets to uncool old people, that console’s market might implode. Video game companies would alienate younger generations if they showed middle-aged folks behind a controller with beer and pizza. Sure, it happens a lot, but usually behind closed doors.

Kids don’t want to play a machine that old people play, because old people aren’t cool. Old people who play games don’t want other non-gaming old people to think they’re kids. And old people don’t want kids to think they’re not adults. The only way to fix this problem is to overhaul the worldwide perception that video games and Trix are just for kids. A multi-year, multi-lateral advertising campaign by all the major tech giants, video game companies, and eSports venues should be enough to convince the world that video games aren’t just for kids, they’re for everybody. But until that utopian age arrives, and people of all ages play video games together in harmony, we must live with the knowledge that only kids are cool enough to play and “get” games.

In his piece comparing iPad Air’s and PS4’s ad campaigns, Albrighton criticizes PS4’s “This is for the players” ad for being too busy, among other things.

 

 

At the time of this writing, the top comment under the YouTube video reads, “Playstation makes the best ads ever.” I loved this ad and I think it’s quite appropriate for its target audience: gamers. If anything, the ad needs more adrenaline, more action, more budget, more everything. The PS4 commercial should be compared to the Xbox One commercial or the iPad Air commercial within the context of their respective campaign strategies and audiences. PS4 shoots for younger, cooler gamers, but Microsoft’s strategy is much more ambitious.

Xbox One’s Invitation ad opens up with a twenty- or early thirty-something businessman being invited into the cockpit of a giant robot, but his smooth skin and babyface still don’t make him seem too old. This campaign is shooting for a broader demographic, positioning the Xbox One as the household appliance used for all your entertainment and communication needs.

 

 

Each ad campaign has a different approach to this virtual world of entertainment. The PS4 ad thrusts you into a vortex of gaming worlds (the type of chaos that many games throw at you), which would appeal to a young, imaginitive gamer. The Xbox commercial rather politely brings one world at a time into our mundane lives, invites “a new generation” to step into that other world, then brings that other world into the living room.

And both worlds become one…if you buy an Xbox.

 

Copywriting Serves the Marketing Strategy

And the marketing strategy serves the business’s overall world domination strategy. Microsoft takes on the family omni-device and PS4 takes on the hardcore gaming device. Looking at the big picture, we see that Microsoft aims for the more family-friendly-yet-still-edgy-enough approach to dominate the omni-device market while keeping its foothold in the gaming market via the household. Sony competes by being cooler and entering via the gamer brain.

Since brand or product must define itself clearly in order to appeal to a certain market, it can’t be two things at once. The PS4, by targeting the young gamers and defining itself as a gamer’s machine, can’t appeal to the uncool old people, for instance. The Xbox One has to maintain a more politically correct and calmer approach so as not to disrupt its family-okay image. Therefore, it can’t target adrenaline junkie gamers like the PS4 can.

Obviously, by defining their target market and focusing on that, they make certain sacrifices, because you can’t be everything. But they avoid the trap that befell Nuffield health, which failed to define itself at all — at least in that example. A brand differentiates itself by saying it’s not something, but doesn’t tell you what it is. From our case study of the console wars, we can see how each product shows and tells us exactly what it is, who it is for, how it defines itself for a target market, and how it uses copywriting and ads to serve its marketing purpose.

Resources for Further Study

This post owes inspiration to the above-linked posts by Tom Albrighton of ABC Copywriting. For those interested in learning more about copywriting, head over to his blog and be enlightened. Other good copywriting resources include the Ad Contrarian and Unmemorable Title.

Here is another one of PS4’s cool ads, which follows cool from then till now. In this ad we can see the age boundaries of cool being pushed slightly upwards. Perhaps by PS7 or PS8 we will see senior citizens playing from their wheelchairs, with the slogan, “Players Forever.”

 

 

 

Probably not.

Why You Shouldn’t Write an Article About How Not to Pitch an Article

A sign next to this dog reads, "Don't feed fingers to the dog."

A sign next to this dog reads, “Don’t feed fingers to the dog.”

I could write and spin for eternities about countless things you should not do when you write query letters or pitches. For example, you should not write a query letter that begins with, “Hey, what’s up?” But is that really helpful? It is much more useful to provide specific, directed steps that the reader can follow.

Yet, somehow, published writers who write about writing still write how-not-to-do-something articles. This example from Writer’s Digest offers nothing but an ad for a book and generic advice such as “avoid generalities.” This post, from freelanceswitch.com, offers three pieces of advice that are utterly worthless to anyone worth their salt. Namely, the post panders to wannabe writers foolish enough not to follow basic submission guidelines. If people don’t research the target publication enough to find that information out, they probably shouldn’t be trying to write in the first place. The article only places this common-sense knowledge in the wrong hands. It is actually a good thing to let editors weed out the wannabes who don’t wanna do research.

On the other hand, freelancewriting.com’s sample query letters breaks down query letters into specific steps, and comments on each section of the query letter, providing specific how-to information. They tell you exactly how you should structure your query letters and pitches, without any don’t-be-an-idiot babble. About.com also offers a useful breakdown, rather than disconnected bits of advice that follow a bitch-fest about bad query letters. A notable, hilarious exception to my don’t-tell-people-what-not-to-do rule is Andrew Nathan’s post, How Not to Pitch an SEO Client by Email.

So, my dear readers and writers, I offer one parting piece of advice: don’t tell readers what not to do.

Copywriting as Problem Solving

IMG_1379

Copywriting can solve many problems, but not all of them

In another article, I explained how copywriting is text that is designed to communicate a specific idea. Often, that idea is intended to catalyze a sale. The intent is to persuade the reader to buy something.

The idea behind the text, whatever it may be, is typically part of a marketing strategy, designed to solve a particular problem. Obama’s first presidential campaign adopted the slogan, “Change we can believe in.” This message was specifically designed to convey an idea that would solve Obama’s problem: how to win the election by persuading the majority of voters to vote for him. The idea was the axis of his persuasive argument that eventually won him the election. Political language is one of the most prominent places we can see copywriting as problem solving.

But copywriting-as-problem-solving is everywhere, and it permeates the internet. Most of the problems that need solving in this new marketplace are business problems, such as making a sale, or providing information to the reader. Informative articles often serve the larger aim of convincing the reader to become loyal to a certain entity. Oftentimes we will see articles that appear informative, but are actually plugs for a particular product or service. Though this type of copywriting works on certain demographics, it is very tacky and turns off many readers.

Companies that wish to develop solid relationships with their customers tend to avoid this ineffective combination of marketing and sales. Quality copywriting should communicate its idea and solve its problem without being obtuse. This type of copywriting reminds me of people who use duct tape to patch up a broken car window. It’s certainly not the most effective way of solving a problem.

Copywriting & the Craft of Persuasion

110728_0208_3The aim of copywriting is to communicate a specific idea. Like designers, copywriters work both creatively and logically to solve a problem. They design appropriate text that will communicate their targeted ideas to the reader. “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” and “just do it” both communicate a specific concept to the reader. The former relates a specific scientific fact, whereas the second, like a political slogan, communicates an emotional message. Though the second is less tangible than the first, it has a specific goal: to evoke a specific reaction in the reader. Both use text to communicate specific ideas.

Copywriting is everywhere. It is in political language, legal language, marketing language, the text on food lables, and street signs. Unlike more subjectively interpreted forms of writing, such as poetry or literature, copywriting has the aim of communicating a specific, objective idea.

In the field of marketing, copywriting usually tries to make a sale. Whether it is landing page copy, a slogan, or a blog article, the bulk of copywriting is aimed at persuading the reader to buy something.

Since the advent of the world wide web, copywriters are often hired to write informative articles and web content. Online publication is virtually free, so anyone is free to express themselves on the web. Persuasive and informative copy has become a new commodity for businesses that wish to expand their internet marketing campaigns. High quality copywriting is vital to the development of a competitive internet marketing campaign.