20 Feb

Is the art of copywriting dead? (not to be confused with “copyright”)


More and more marketing is visual. Fewer people take the time to read even short passages of text.

Super bowl ads get the glory while most people assume text on their website never gets read.

Bosses delegate the job of writing (copywriting) the company’s marketing to the lowest bidder or an employee that’s willing to take on the task.

So does it really matter who writes your website, blog, sales literature and social media posts?

Is the art of copywriting dead?

Long-form vs. short-form advertising

If you type “long form advertising” into Google some interesting links pop up:

“Why long form content marketing works and why it doesn’t”

“Long form advertising: A growing opportunity”

“Branded content: Why long-form ads are the wave of the future”

What does “long form” mean?

It means lots of words—or “copy” as it’s called in marketing.

Full-page ads for Bose’s famous noise cancelling headphones you may have seen while browsing an in-flight magazine are a modern long-form advertising classic.

The ads are informative, detailed and well-written, and that’s because Bose’s founder Amar Bose was a big believer in the effectiveness of long-form advertising.

Have things changed?

Maybe. Bose’s current CEO Bob Maresca told CNET last year:

“We used to have a forum with our copy-heavy direct marketing ads and people read it. But people don’t read anymore so we’re struggling with this new way of short attention spans, how to get people to actually listen.”

Here’s a video of a short-form Bose NFL ad.

All visuals. All sound. Little or no text. Just 30 seconds.

The problem is, not every product or service can best be sold with just sound and video.

Take for example a fitness tracker watch.

How do you win over customers in such an intensely competitive market?

Lots of words

One of the reasons Amazon.com is driving traditional retail into the ground (besides one-click shopping and Amazon Prime delivery) is because Amazon gives you lots of product information in just one place—including reviews from other buyers.

(Tell me you don’t read buyers’ reviews on Amazon and I won’t believe you.)

For starters, the description for this Fitbit watch on Amazon is no less than 169 words.

And that’s just the description. There’s lots more text to read.

Chances are Fitbit’s marketing director didn’t outsource the copywriting to the lowest bidder or a novice.

Every. Single. Word. Counts.

One of Fitbit’s competitors on Amazon wants your attention so badly they made the headline to their watch 26 words long:

“Fitness Tracker with Real-time Heart Rate Monitor, Runme Activity Tracker Smart Watch with Sleep Monitor, IP67 Water Resistant Pedometer Bracelet with Call/SMS Remind for iOS/Android Smartphone”

(I’m not so sure I would call that good copywriting.)

Long-form and the age of SEO

In today’s world of “search engine optimization” the future of long-form advertising looks positively golden.

Neil Patel is one of Forbes Magazine’s top ten marketers.

Patel notes on his website that President Obama recognized him as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30.

The way Patel sees it, long-form advertising is the best way to boost your website’s rankings.

“High quality, in-depth long form content is crucial to increasing rankings, driving search engine traffic, and encouraging a better conversion rate,” Patel writes on his web site.

“You better get used to creating the highest quality long-form content in your niche. This means striving for 2,000 words, but realizing that 3,000 is even better.”

Who writes your marketing?

So who writes your long-form marketing?

Do they understand your product or service? Target market?

Are they able to incorporate the “keywords” that drive organic search engine traffic to your site?

What about your blogs and social media posts? Is the writing consistent with your creative strategy, and company’s tone and voice?

Finally, how do you select someone to write your marketing content?

These are questions I’ll leave for a future article.

For now, long-form advertising is clearly in vogue, and Amar Bose is still spot-on.

The future of the art of copywriting looks bright.

Mark Browne is a professional marketing writer, journalist and Brazilian Portuguese and Mexican Spanish translations provider originally from Boston. He has written marketing copy for the semiconductor, travel and leisure, business consulting, consumer goods, retail and other industries. His articles have been published by Bank Technology News, US Banker, The Boston Business Journal and the Associated Press. Mark can be reached at markb@mbrowne.com

05 Jul

What makes Mexican Spanish translation different


So you’re planning on learning Spanish, or you’ve taken a job in marketing that requires you to supervise the translation of your company’s website from English to Spanish.

Are you up to the task?

One thing’s for sure, Spanish will put you in touch with a whole lot of people in the US—not to mention Latin America and Spain.

According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the US now has more Spanish speakers than both Spain and Colombia.

There are 41 million native Spanish speakers and 11 million bilingual Spanish speakers in the US today.

Only Mexico has more at 121 million.

So you’ve decided now’s the time to get a better handle on the Spanish language?

Well, get ready to sweat a lot whether it’s in a classroom or supervising the work you send to a translation agency.

Spanish is way, way more complicated grammatically than English.

Verbs, verbs, and more verbs

You thought Chinese was difficult?

According to Wikipedia, Spanish has fourteen regular verb tenses which can be subdivided into seven simple and seven compound tenses.

(A student of mine once told me she had a lot harder time learning Spanish than Japanese.)

So if you’re supervising say the translation of your website, hire a Spanish expert who knows what they’re doing.

Because you won’t have a clue on how to catch Spanish grammar errors that could make your brand look bad in the eyes of your Spanish audience

And if you’re planning on speaking Spanish, get ready for a lot of memorization. A lot.

And how long will it take?

The following advice posted on the web from a foreigner living in Mexico is about right:

“For the rest of my life and then some. jajaja.”

“It is a never ending process. I am just glad to be conversational, but being fluent is a bar too high for me to ever achieve.”

What’s more, ask any expat living in Mexico who has taken the time to learn Mexican Spanish and you’re likely to hear the same story:

Mexican Spanish is different—a lot different.

Mexican Spanish: Caution!

The differences between spoken Spanish in Mexico and the Spanish you would use to promote your business in writing are huge.

Mexican Spanish when spoken is coarser, and sometimes extremely impolite, something you would never want to write with.

The natural rebelliousness of the Mexican culture, where authority is distrusted—especially among millennials—means the ways people speak in everyday life is nothing you would ever want to see in print.

Take for example the word “guey” which loosely translated means “dude.”

While you hear it all the time on the street and in bars, don’t ever put it in writing since it’s way, way more disrespectful that “dude” is in English.

Your readers will be rightly insulted.

There are literally hundreds of other examples, but your biggest risk when wading into Mexican Spanish is something way more embarrassing.

Common words, like the Spanish word for sweet potato, have double meanings which are almost always sexual.

And if you don’t know them and make the mistake of using them in the wrong context, you’ll be laughed out of the room.

The same applies to some verbs. While the verb “coger” which means “to choose” in Spain, it means to have intercourse in Mexico.

The list goes on and on.

As a bilingual translator from the US living in Mexico, I’ve learned to pick my Mexican Spanish words with caution, and have spent more years than you’d like to know learning the grammar and how to speak the language fluently.

But there’s one golden rule I never break: at my translation agency www.mexicotranslation.com.

We hire only native Mexican Spanish speakers to translate from English to Spanish.

We want it to be right, every time.

05 Jul

What to look for before purchasing Mexican Spanish translation


If you invest thousands if not millions of dollars in your marketing communications, each translation carries the full weight of that investment. Your total satisfaction is not an option; it is the standard you have a right to expect.

But what if you don’t speak Mexican Spanish? How do you know the translator got it right? Make sure the translator is never the final judge. His or her work should be evaluated, edited and proofed by another translation professional fluent in both languages and native in the source language.

Do you know who your translator is? The problem with working with mega-sized translation companies is that often it’s impossible to know who is doing the work. You should insist on working with a translator that is well-educated. Translation involves writing and good writing requires clear and concise thinking. The more educated the translator the better their writing skills are likely to be.

What should you pay for authentic Mexican Spanish translation? Rates vary greatly depending upon the source and target languages and the region where the work is being done. Keep one cardinal rule in mind: high-quality, trustworthy and authentic translation usually doesn’t come at the lowest price. The best Mexico translators are seasoned professionals and their work doesn’t come cheap.

Phone or email me today at info@mbrowne.com for an immediate consideration of your next translation project. Or visit our website at www.mexicotranslation.com