Episode 5 – Obtituaries ‘You really are wonderfool’.
You mentioned that you were going to do a podcast about obituaries and real estate ads. I would love to hear about how to write a product description in one or two sentences.
I have to write these all the time for our website and would love some hints/pointers.
Let’s talk about real estate advertising first:
From A 380 degree View, which by the way, is a title I took from an real estate ad: assuring the buyer of 380 degree views.
She stood in the center of the faded harvest gold carpet and surveyed the tiny living and dining room. Well maintained original carpet, I wrote. The kitchen was so small I had to back into the door to get a good photo. Efficient kitchen. I scribbled in my notebook.
I angled away from the pellet stove and took a shot of the living slash dining area. Intimate living area, I wrote down.
The full apartment down stairs was accessible by an outside stairs. Possible rental/in-law unit, I wrote down. It was unremarkable, a sofa that will have to be thrown out and a tiny kitchen featuring an old electric stove. I scribbled, move-in ready
It was not a good time of year to take pictures of the yard, but that creek access would be an excellent selling point. Your own private creek. I wrote.
Here are some things to be wary of:
Motivated Seller – we looked at a lovely house that was perfect in every way, except for the homeless encampment spilling onto the drive way.
Charming means small
Do not make your house breath, gush or otherwise exude charm. This is not a blind date; it is a house.
If the copy has defaulted to naming the appliances, it means the house has nothing else to recommend it.
Close to anything is dangerous, the house could back into the wall mart parking lot or be located under a freeway overpass.
check it out on Google maps
How to write a product description. Or in other words, what does your product do in one line or less?
Find the features benefits. Oh how boring. How about considering what your product would do if it was as magic as you hoped everyone would believe? Make a person younger, thinner, more hair, richer? Think of the extreme, dial it back just a bit, now you have a clever ad campaign
Reduce that cleverness to key words, some companies work this thing with consultants, experts and linguist. Some of us just have to make it up because we are the whole damn department.
Ads are wonderful and they translate so poorly into other countries.
Some examples of bad translations.
General Motors had a very famous fiasco in trying to market the Nova car in Central and South America. “No va” in Spanish means, “It Doesn’t Go”.
The Dairy Association’s huge success with the campaign “Got Milk?” prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation read “Are You Lactating?”
Frank Perdue’s chicken slogan, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken,” was translated into Spanish as “it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.”
Pepsi’s “Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave” in Chinese.
Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing Sucks like an Electrolux.”
Great ads in general
Be ready before the moment – think tank photo (camera bags)
Just do it (Nike)
The ultimate driving Machine (BMW
The Antidote for civilization (club med)
Let your fingers do the walking (2002)
Drivers wanted (VW)
It’s everywhere you want to be. (Visa)
Think Different (Apple)
Write yours ahead of time, otherwise your children will be writing it, and do you really want them to have the last word? I didn’t think so. Have you noticed that obits written by the children are not about you, they are about them? Survived by, and a long list of everyone who is still here and is interested in seeing their own name in print.
Do not let this happen.
Write your own obit.
Make stuff up, who is going to argue with you?
Myself, I think I’ll be a pirate. Think of everything you didn’t get to do, try or be, write that into your obit. While you’re at it, do some of these things you cheerfully lied about. Really, before it’s too late.
Not just what you wrote in grammar school
Bring Out Your Dead- Listener submission/our own personal early piece of writing dredged up from the dust pile.
Word of the week
This word hit the newspapers and public notice on 19 January 1952, the day after a plaque was presented to its inventor to mark his creation of this invaluable word. He was Milton A Smith, assistant general counsel for the US Chamber of Commerce. It was presented by Michael V DiSalle, the head of the Office of Price Stabilization, who rejoiced in the title of Price Stabilizer. (Where are people like this when you need them?)
Milton Smith coined the word in a piece he wrote for the Chamber’s weekly publication, Washington Report, which criticised the OPS for the bureaucratic language it used in one of its price orders. This was picked up by the Bellingham Herald in Washington State, which wrote an editorial about it, saying “Gobbledegook is mouth-filling, but it lacks the punch of bafflegab. The inventor of that one deserves an award.” The newspaper made sure he got one by paying for the plaque to be made and organising its presentation.
The inventor said he had spent a maddening day trying to explain the OPS order to a colleague and decided a special word was needed to describe its special blend of “incomprehensibility, ambiguity, verbosity and complexity”. He tried legalfusion, legalprate, gabalia, and burobabble before settling on bafflegab. There’s nothing mysterious about the make-up of the word, and that’s part of its appeal. But it’s the stress on those plosive consonants that really makes it fly. It might well have succeeded even without the publicity associated with the award.
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Publishing: POD or Traditional
Social media for the non-social writer
Promotion for the panicked