Plain Words
Training Bulletin
issue 11

Web Site Home

Back issues

Editor Recommends

Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples

My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising by John Caples

Subscribe to this training bulletin

Update Me! Service

Interested in a course but unsure when you can attend?

We’ll email you the date and venue when we schedule it

Subscribe now!

Training Bulletin Issue 11

This is the eleventh issue of The Training Bulletin, and we hope you enjoy it.

We have a new service called Update Me! to keep you informed about courses in which you’ve expressed interest. There’s more information about this below.

Marketing is cheating

There have been a lot of stories in the press lately about “Silicon Valley Envy” – wondering why the Googles, Yahoos and eBays of this world are all American. I drove to work the other day listening to Radio 4 asking why Britain, with its world-class universities and thriving financial sector, can’t match up with the entrepreneurial spirit across the pond. Indignant listeners soon emailed and texted replies, pointing to British successes like and Autonomy.

In an interview, a representative of Autonomy said that there are many differences between the American and British approaches to business creation. One of them is the attitude to marketing. While Americans don’t hesitate to blow their own trumpets, the British attitude is that, if you build a better mousetrap, the world should beat a path to your door without your needing to do anything to publicise your product. People here see marketing as cheating, he said.

I’ve worked in a couple of places where writing sales collateral and newsletters fell to an office junior who had no particular training or aptitude for creating copy that sells – and such a priority seems to epitomise the British attitude to marketing.

Like winking at a girl in the dark

If your company thinks that marketing is cheating, then you might be doing the equivalent of winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but nobody else does.

Does your promotional material take advantage of all the hard-won hints and tricks that the American advertising industry has gained? For example, if you have a small space left on a page of text, what is the most effective illustration you can put there? A picture of the product? A chart or graph? Neither, as it happens: the most eye-catching thing you can include is the head of a person who is connected with your service or business, smiling at the reader.

What are the strongest elements in a headline that gets attention? Curiosity and self-interest, along with news and assurance that a thing is quick or easy to achieve. What’s the best way to produce a successful headline-spend ages crafting one perfect gem or brainstorm lots of ideas and try them out on colleagues or customers? And, if you want to brainstorm, what questions should you ask to get you (and your readers) buzzing? Here are some suggestions:

Copywriting for marketing and promotions

Copywriting, like any other form of writing, can be improved with practice, and anybody with a basic affinity for words can learn to write more effective promotional material.

The suggestions above come from Plain Words’ Copywriting Essentials training course, aimed at anyone who has to produce marketing copy for their company.

The course covers basic copywriting principles, information-gathering, writing informative promotional articles and designing attractive and readable newsletters.

See the full course outline

“Good Practical Tips and Techniques”
“Reinforced some areas I already understood, and opened my eyes to the other areas which were outside the box”

New Update Me! service

If you are interested in a course but are not sure when you’ll be able to attend, why not sign up for our new Update Me! service?

Every time we schedule the course or courses that you have expressed an interest in we will send you an email with the date and venue. If you sign up, you can expect to receive an email approximately once every six weeks. You can, of course, unsubscribe at any time.

Call us on 01635 202013 for details, visit the Update Me page or email .

Editor recommends

John Caples, Tested Advertising Methods

While this book focuses on advertising rather than corporate marketing material, it includes basic principles that will strengthen any promotional copy.

– find it at

Claude C. Hopkins, My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising

Claude Hopkins was a pioneer of advertising, getting his grounding in direct mail. He devised measured returns, and laid the basis of the modern advertising industry. This book is partly autobiographical, and is a fascinating look at the foundations of the way business is done today.

– find it at

Guy Kawasaki's blog

There’s also an interesting discussion of the whole “Silicon Valley Envy” issue at Guy Kawasaki's blog entry for June 6, “How to Kick Silicon Valley’s Butt”

Kind Regards
The Plain Words Training Team

Public course schedule

The price is £495 + VAT per person for a one-day intensive course and £850 + VAT for a two-day workshop. Half day courses are £295 + VAT per person.

We also offer private courses at your premises. Please call 01635 202013 or 0207 0960 749 for details.

To book, call Abi on 01635 202013 ext 28 or use the booking form.