“Yeah, but that’s how they do it”

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I would say “Happy New Year!”

But we both know, it’s pointless.

We’d be celebrating a spinning rock hitting a random point in its solar rotation cycle. And that’s hardly cause for donning a paper hat, linking arms with strangers, singing a song you don’t know all the words to, then staggering home stopping only to vomit on a garden gnome.

Is it?

Call me a Hogmanay Scrooge if you will. But I’ve never got the New Year thing.

Sure, it’s a great chance to take stock while the office is quiet. But that aside? Count me out.

I don’t need the forced jollity. That sense of “This is how we do it, you will have fun!” – like a Gestapo Officer forcing you at gun point to hit the dance floor and boogie.

It ain’t my thing. So 30-odd years ago, I opted out. And now? New Year’s Eve in the Daniel Hut is a quiet affair, with a bucket of Thornton’s, Graham Norton and lights off by midnight. No bongs.

But what about you? Do you follow the crowd? Or do it your own way – adapting “the norm” into summat that works for you?

The latter, I hope.

And, I hope more, you take the same approach when it comes to plugging your business.

See, these days, we’re swamped by “Imitation Marketing”. Stuff that’s ripped off (aka “swiped”) from classic ads or the latest mailer from the Ninja Du Jour. And that’s nothing but New Year Syndrome: people following the herd, by just accepting “that’s how it’s done”.

It leads to false, insincere crap. Copy with no substance, masquerading as something deeper.

You’ve seen this stuff. It’s overrun with stock phrases like “kick-butt”, “killer” and “stratosphere”, because “hey, that’s how Dan Kennedy talks”. Or it turns great headlines into drivel.

So John Caples’ classic –

“They laughed when I sat down at the piano. But when I started to play…”

…gets bastardised as:

“They laughed when I said I’d make a million dollars this month. But when they saw the size of my yacht…”


“They laughed when I hired Dave as a fitness instructor. But when they saw my new six pack…”

See? Endless repetition. Cheap, veneer imitation. Like a woodchip table pretending to be 200-year-old oak.

And all because “that’s how it’s done”.

It bothers me, this. Copy should look to the world outside – not turn in on itself, and stare up its own butt.

That doesn’t mean we should all go reinvent the wheel, and ignore the lessons from the past. But it does mean we should be ourselves, and quit swiping so literally.

So, if you go for resolutions, I’m asking you to add this one:

Use your own voice in your copy. Try to sound like you, not the latest Kennedy/Caples/Halbert clone.

Deal? Yep, great. Let’s do this.

Be Real You, and a (genuine) Happy New Year is bound to follow…

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?

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