Marketing support services from Black & Write PDF Print E-mail

One Stop ShopDid you know that I offer a range of marketing communications support services as well as copywriting? This means Black & Write can bring much more than well-written copy to your business.

I'm a Marketing Communications Specialist with over 10 years' experience in B2B and B2C marketing (I spent four years as Operations & Marketing Manager for a toy company before going freelance in 2008), so I can bring all kinds of exciting stuff to your business.

The benefits of my marketing support services

  • Flexible services tailored to your company's needs and target markets
  • Expert support from an experienced marketing professional
  • B2B and B2C services both available, or a mixture to suit your business
  • Great ideas and initiatives that boost brand awareness
  • Increased sales through well-planned marketing activities and campaigns
  • You can focus on the day job whilst I take care of your marketing needs
  • Support for your own marketing team as and when they need it
  • Keep your customers informed about new products and company developments

How can I help you?

Here are just a few of the ways I can support your company’s marketing activities:

  • Fresh ideas for your firm

One of my favourite pastimes is brainstorming new ideas. These could be brand name options for a new company or product range, a plethora of salesy strap lines, or weird and wacky ideas for promotional marketing campaigns. Working alone or as part of a team, there’s nothing I love more than getting my teeth into meaty marketing projects. And I’m pretty damn good at it, as my clients will tell you! (Please ask me if you'd like to speak to some existing marketing support clients to find out how they benefit from my services).
  • Foolproof marketing plans

Do you ever find yourself overflowing with good intentions about your marketing that never quite come to fruition? Whether it’s drafting regular blog articles, keeping your website content updated with your latest products, or sending out regular press releases and direct mail, it’s all too easy to let marketing activities fall by the wayside.

That’s where a foolproof marketing plan comes in. I’ll sit down with you and discuss your company's general marketing plans for the next six to 12 months. E.g. new product launches, exhibitions, special offers and campaigns, and so on. Working with this info, I’ll come up with a simple marketing plan listing what you need to do and when to successfully promote each activity. This will make it much easier for you and your staff to manage your marketing in the future.

Of course, I’ll also be happy to stick around and help you implement the plan if you'd like me to. And not just on the copywriting side, either. I can liaise with your internal staff and third party agencies to manage all aspects of the plan, making sure written materials get designed, printed and delivered on time; keeping your website and social media accounts up to date; helping you stay on top of exhibitor requirements for trade shows, and so on.
  • Marketing support packages (monthly service)

If you want ongoing support with multiple aspects of your company’s marketing activities, then look no further than a Black & Write marketing support package. From simply taking some of the pressure off your internal marketing team to acting as your virtual marketing department, your package will be created and tailored to meet your individual needs.

My marketing support packages work on a monthly basis, allocating an agreed number of hours or days to your account each month. This time can be used however you like. You’ll probably want some activities to happen each month, such as website blog articles and social media updates. But some of the time can be allocated to ad hoc work that might change each month.

A typical two day (16 hour) monthly marketing support package might look like this:

•    1 hour attending a monthly planning meeting
•    1 hour spent collating and presenting website SEO statistics for the previous month
•    3 hours researching, writing and uploading two website news articles
•    1 hour writing and scheduling Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin updates
•    2 hours writing and submitting a press release or trade magazine article
•    2 hours writing a customer sales letter or email shot
•    2 hours updating your main company website content with new products etc
•    4 hours on ad hoc activities that could change each month, e.g. writing a new product flyer or company leaflet, creating press packs for trade exhibitions etc.

The possibilities are endless...

There are all sorts of ways I can support your company’s marketing activities – and I’d love the chance to chat with you about your requirements. So whether you just need a bit of extra help now and again or you’re looking for reliable support each and every month, please get in touch. I’m here to help your business move forward.

Contact me today

Please give me a call on 07595 839 550 to discuss your marketing requirements. You can also email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or fill in the Contact form on my website. I'll look forward to chatting with you soon.

Posted by Faye Stenson, 14 January 2014  

A few fascinating facts for a Friday afternoon PDF Print E-mail

Just a few fun and fascinating literary and linguistic facts to keep you amused on a rainy Friday afternoon...

1.    The first novel ever written on a typewriter was Tom Sawyer.
2.    Ernest Vincent Wright wrote a novel, ‘Gadsby’, which contains over 50,000 words - none of them with the letter E.
3.    Sherlock Holmes NEVER said, "Elementary, my dear Watson."
4.    The dot over the letter "i" is called a tittle.
5.    There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with orange, purple and silver.
6.    The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
7.    In Chinese, the KFC slogan “finger lickin’ good” translates as “eat your fingers off”.
8.    A pregnant goldfish is called a "twit" or , according to some sources, a "twat".
9.    Shakespeare was so young when he got married that he needed a special Bishop’s Licence, on which his name is spelled Shagspere. How rude.
10.    Donald Duck comics were banned in Finland because Donald Duck does not wear trousers.

Enjoy the weekend :)

Posted by Faye Stenson, 6 September 2013

Top 5 tips for a great sales letter PDF Print E-mail

A couple of years ago, I wrote a B2B sales letter for a 'Big 6' energy company. It wasn't a big or clever proposition, just a simple letter selling their basic business energy package. According to the agency I was working with, the client at the energy company said it was 'the best B2B sales letter they'd ever seen'.

Not surprisingly, I was dead chuffed :) Especially as the letter brought in lots of new business for the client and I got more work from the agency.

And guess what? It's not really all that hard to write a cracking sales letter that gets results. Here are a few of my top tips to get you started.

1. Know your audience

A successful sales letter is all in the planning. Don't even think about writing the letter until you have a firm grip on who you're talking to, how you can help them and what's in it for them. Put yourself in their shoes. Coming back to the energy letter, the target audience here was SME businesses. Imagine you're a small business owner, snowed under with all kinds of different tasks. You don't have much time to think about energy costs, but you'd like to save money if you can. The sales letter needs to address these needs by showing the business owner how the energy company can save them time and hassle as well as money. You should consider your tone of voice at this stage, too. Should be it chatty and friendly or a little more corporate? You need to strike the right tone to successfully engage your reader.

2. Plan and prioritise your content

Make a list of all the points you need to cover in the letter - product features, special offers, legal information and so on. Then put your points in priority order by asking yourself: 'What does my customer really want to know?' Your most important point should appear in the letter's main headline, then in more detail in the first paragraph. Less important points should follow in subsequent paragraphs, giving your letter its structrure. Try to group related points together and signpost them with relevant sub-headings. For example, if you're offering an energy plan that saves customers money in five different ways, list all five ways in a single paragraph (perhaps using bullet points). The paragraph's sub-heading could read: 'Here's how we could cut your energy costs'.

3. Think benefits, not features

Now you have your list of points, it's time to fine-tune your content. Look at the points you're making in the letter. Do some of them simply describe product features without conveying a benefit? For example, 'Our energy plan includes free energy efficiency tips' or 'We'll send you a free energy monitor.' If so, they need re-wording or expanding so each point answers this question from the reader's viewpoint: 'What's in it for me?' So the above examples might read: 'Our energy plan includes free energy efficiency tips  - lots of easy ways to help you use less energy and control your costs'. And 'We'll send you a free energy monitor so you can clearly see how much you're spending on energy, helping you budget for your bills and manage cash flow more effectively.' Tangible benefits like these - easy ways to save money and predict future spending - are music to the ears of most SME business owners.

4. Use your heading and sub-headings to tell a story

I use this device in several different types of writing, but it works especially well with sales letters (particularly when the audience is pushed for time - like most SME business owners!) When you've decided on a structure for your letter, look at how you've grouped the information. Can you create headings that tell the reader what the letter's about at a glance, without them having to delve into the body copy? This example shows how it's done:

  • Main heading - Our new energy plan makes life easier for your business
  • Sub-heading 1 - We could cut your energy costs...
  • Sub-heading 2 - ...And save you time and hassle, too
  • Sub-heading 3 - It's simple to switch, so sign up today

5. Always include a call to action

It sounds obvious, but don't forget to tell the reader how to contact you if they're interested. Give an email address as well as a phone number if possible, and/or a website where they can find more information or apply online. Unless your product or service is genuinely time-limited, beware of using cliches in your call to action, such as 'Don't miss out - call today!' or 'Sign up now to avoid disappointment'. If your letter's strong enough, you won't need them. Just a simple request to contact you is enough. However, it's OK to give reassurance that you'll make the sales/ordering process easy for them - as in the 'It's simple to switch...' sub-heading above.

Not sure about writing your own sales letters?

No worries - that's why I'm here :) And there's good news as my sales letters are currently on Special Offer at just £72 per side of A4 - that's 20% off my standard rate. Contact me today to discuss your project.

Added: September 2012 by Faye Stenson

Website copywriting presentation at Second Wednesday PDF Print E-mail

On 8th August, I gave a talk on website copywriting at the Second Wednesay networking meeting at Antenna in Nottingham. It's a monthly event for people working in the web and related industries to get together, swap ideas and contacts and refer business. And listen to a speaker, of course :)

It was the first time I'd been to Second Wednesday, but everyone made me feel very welcome and I got some good feedback on my presentation.

Here's a PDF version of my PowerPoint slldes if you'd like to take a look. It's just the bare bones of the presentation, so if you'd like a copy of the PowerPoint version with notes (so it all makes proper sense!) just This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Thanks to everyone who came along last week. I hope you enjoyed the talk and found it useful. I'll hope to see you at Second Wednesday again soon.

Added: 15 August 2012 by Faye Stenson

A few pet copywriting hates PDF Print E-mail

I'm sure all copywriters have their own pet hates. Here are a few of mine. And if you use them in your writing, just stop it. Now. 

1. Using the words 'Please don't hesitate to...' in your call to action. E.g. 'Please don't hesitate to contact me if you would like more details.'

This phrase is old-fashioned and a little patronising. If someone wants more information or needs to speak to you, why would they hesitate? Are you implying they're afraid of using the telephone? Or too self-conscious about their spelling to send an email? It's a daft turn of phrase that makes you sound stuffy, so don't use it. All you're doing is giving them a reason to hesitate. The result? They never get in touch. So get to the point. Tell them to give you a call if they want to know more. And they will.

2. Making assumptions about people, or how they think or feel

You know the kind of thing. The letter that starts: 'We know you're busy'. The headline that says: 'So you're embarassed about your gambling problem.' Or the leaflet that claims: 'We know you'll find our product useful.'  How does the writer know these things - are they psychic? Of course not. They have no idea whether ther reader is busy or not, how they feel about their gambling problem (if they have one) or if they'll find a product useful or not.

The idea of using these techniques is to try to engage the reader by 'understanding' their situation and, if appropriate, offering empathy. But if you make too many assumptions about your reader, it just won't work. So if you find yourself making assumptions in your writing, try a softer approach. These are possible alternatives to the examples above:
  • 'Please read this letter, even if you're busy.'
  • 'Many people with gambling problems feel embarassed.'
  • 'If you do a lot of DIY at home, you'll find our product useful.'

Note that the last example still assumes the reader will find the product useful, but adding a qualifying statement makes it relevant to the target market. People who do a lot of DIY probably will find the product useful. So it's a reasonable assumption to make.

3. Not getting to the point

People love to waffle. Even copywriters (sometimes). But if you're not careful, the message you're trying to get across will be lost somewhere in your beautifully-constructed prose. So start as you mean to go on. Give your readers an inkling in the headline and then explain yourself in the first paragraph. Leave it any later than that and you're in trouble. They'll have no idea what you're on about and will stop reading. Of course, adding an air of mystery to your writing with the odd cryptic headline is OK - especially if it inspires genuine curiosity. But you must explain why you're writing to them sooner rather than later.

Getting to the point is important in all writing, but especially in press releases. The first rule for writing a successful press release is to summarise the story in the headline and then use the first paragraph to explain Who, What, Where, When and Why. Avoid using cryptic headlines in a press release. If an editor doesn't 'get' your press release at a glance, they'll file it under B in a flash.

4. Over-using the passive voice

When people talk to each other, they use the active voice most of the time. For example, 'I ate my tea' or 'The cat sat on the mat.' We tend not to use the passive voice when speaking ('My tea was eaten by me' or 'The mat was sat on by the cat'). So why do so many people use it in their writing? Perhaps they think it sounds more impressive, or they want their writing to have a more formal or corporate feel. This can sometimes be appropriate, for example, in legal contracts.

But in other settings, too much of the passive voice will make your writing sound lifeless, cumbersome and boring. Even worse, it can make you or your company sound evasive - especially if you've done something wrong. Compare these examples:

Passive: 'A mistake was made on your account. Action was taken to correct the situation but it is feared that it has not yet been possible to resolve it fully.You will be contacted by an engineer next week.'
Active: 'We made a mistake on your account. Although we've tried to correct it, we're afraid we haven't managed to fully resolve it yet. One of our engineers will contact you next week.'

Note how the active example makes the company sound 'real'. They're owning up to making a boo boo. But the passive one is very impersonal, almost robotic - no one wants to take responsibility for the cock-up. The passive sentences are longer and harder to read, too.

Having said all that, the odd passive sentence can be useful to break up your writing. For example: 'Your gas will be turned off for three hours'  is fine as an altenative to 'We'll turn off your gas for three hours'. But try not to use the passive voice more than 20% of the time. There's a function on Word to check the percentage of passive sentences, as well as other readability statistics, so use it.

5. Abusing the English language

My thoughts on this subject would probably fill several books. But I'll follow my own advice from point 3 and keep it short. English is a difficult, contradictory, ambiguous and often infuriating language. It can be very difficult to master and very easy to make a fool of yourself with. So if you can't write good English, don't. Hire a copywriter.

Added: July 2012 by Faye Stenson

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