Make a Ton of Cash with The Innocent Virgin Scam

Posted in ,

If you had to make a serious ton of money this year…

(And you had no conscience…)

So you’d stoop to literally anything, no matter how depraved…

What would you do?

Me? I wouldn’t get into drugs or human trafficking. No point. There’s an easier, totally legal way:

Become a Tone of Voice Consultant.


You can make some real wonga from this. (If you’re happy losing your soul..!)

Here’s how to do it:

#1: Put up a web page, and talk like a pretentious get about brand engagement. Actually claim (with a straight face) that people will recognise you by your “brand personality”…and go for broke, claiming “a recognised tone builds loyalty, which leads to sales”. (It doesn’t).

#2: Trap set, now wait for prey. Enter dimwit corporate marketing manager. S/he has to spend the department’s full budget by year end, or lose it for next year – so asks you to do a “Brand Language Discovery Exercise”.

#3: Talk bollocks. Set up a boardroom sesh with senior managers, and get them to discuss the company’s “brand values”. Then pick any 3 or 4 from “inspiring”… “pioneering”… “intrepid”… “bold”… “innovating”… “captivating”… “caring”… “sharing”… and “daring”.

Oh yeah – and “different”.

#4: Turn said brand values into a vast document that will sit forever in the boss’ filing cabinet. This is where you say:
…Copy 101 stuff, like “use simple words” and “talk from me to you”.
…”We tell stories” (a good idea, but hardly a revelation).
…Some quirky shit, like “we write everything in lower case”.

#5: End it by saying “This will make your brand instantly recognisable” – with a footnote that says “Aim to sound like Innocent or Virgin”.

Job done.

Now, run away before your client realises:
(A) They’ll never make the new tone stick.
(B) Even if it stuck, it wouldn’t make the brand more recognisable.
(C) Even if it brought recognition, that’s a world away from selling stuff.

There you go – The Innocent Virgin Scam.

Look, I’m not saying tone of voice should be a free-for-all. If you’ve got several people writing for the same company, then obvs you want them all to write in a similar style. But you do that for consistency and impact – not recognition.

And you don’t need to squander a King’s Ransom to get everyone on the same page.

Assuming your team can already write copy to a decent standard, you can sort this out with a quick analysis of old marketing campaigns – followed by half a day in a training room. That’s it.

Because ultimately, all you’re doing is speaking to customers in the style you’d use if you met them in person.

Now, I’m gonna get some shitty replies to this post. Mostly from newbie copywriters who write soft copy for social media (people who dream of the day when they can write tone of voice tat of their own).

But I’m telling you, as a copywriter who’s worked with over 200 clients…with direct response copy going out to thousands of people every day, and raking in new business…you don’t make sales by gazing at your own belly button.

Tone of voice is a narcissistic distraction from the real (less “sexy”) task: educating customers and edging them towards the checkout.

Disagree? Well be honest, how many brands do you recognise by “tone”? One, maybe? Or two at a push?

But the thousands of other companies who’ve done the brand language thing? Nah – you’ve plain ignored their style and focused on their message.

But whatevs. If you want your own tone, save your coffers and answer this question instead:

If you could choose any famous person as the face of your business, who would it be?

Just think of someone who’s loved by your typical customer.

Then write your copy as if it’s coming out of their mouth. Hear them speaking the words as you write them.

There you go, I’ve just saved you a fortune!

Now you can get on with making sales.

UK Copywriter James Daniel

James Daniel

You might not know who I am, but no doubt you've read my copy. If you've ever bought a hearing aid, a pizza oven, flat roof or vacuum cleaner. If you've hired a will writer, an IT guy or accountant. If you've been to events on marketing, acting or how to buy a business. There's every chance it started with a bit of my copy - a few simple, chatty, gently persuasive words. Ring any bells?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *