Although it might feel like sky-diving without a parachute, there are times when you have to write without keywords
I’m back to writing headlines again. Pure standalone advertising headlines. The type that trigger people – hopefully in the right way.
We all know the process: you get the briefing, absorb the background info, subscribe to the goal and then try to get inside the head of the reader.
It’s interesting to note that all this part is a question of subtraction rather than addition (or multiplication). We’re whittling down the options to find the right headline for that person. The old principle of “Less is more”.
And something struck me right there.
We are told not to do that anymore.
The whole process for writing online content for marketing, notably, is to say stuff with as many keywords as possible. Question of density. It makes algorithmic sense, of course.
But it has trained a whole generation of writers (and account managers) to think in very literal terms. It is no exaggeration to say that many copywriting briefings these days become exercises in saying things in ways that are painfully obvious. This makes sense in a world regulated by SEO and algorithms. Every keyword counts, after all.
But what happens if you want to make friends and influence people? ? Maybe it’s time to kill your keywords.
As a reminder, I sometimes flip through examples of great branding through headlines, baselines and brand slogans.
Apple. Think different.
Nike. Just do it.
Chambourcy, oh oui!
The first two have been talked to death, so I’ll pass on them. But what about the third, developed in the nineties for the French cheese and dessert company Chambourcy? What hard information do we get? How many keywords? Zero-point-zero.
But the implication is one of total surrender to the pleasures of the world, the type of thing you would hear from guests after dinner if you ask them if they’re up for a dessert. Oh oui. How is that not brilliant positioning?
I have often challenged other copywriters to come up with a better alternative that is as evocative. I couldn’t. Can you?
It’s worth remembering that these sorts of headlines are not sent onto the pitch alone. They come with 30-second films, print and radio ads. They are supported by advertising air fire and online foot soldiers.
But when it comes to creating a rallying cry, a hero headline or a champion brand position, I’d say there is a good case for killing the keywords.
If you want help on this or other copywriting issues, just call me on +32/496 62 68 433
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