Archives for category: Copywriting

The Subject Line is: “What a Lemonade Stand Taught Me About Storytelling” – – the email starts like this: “I was on my way to play golf this past weekend when I drove by a young girl selling lemonade on the sidewalk in front of her house….

I know the source, so in two seconds, I’m drawn in.

In 5 more, I see video clips from Seth Godin and Rolf Jensen – business storytelling legends – that support the premise that a little girl’s lemonade stand is relevant to my brand. Great communication about communication.

~ Christopher Smith

I know, I know, I need to use a new resource… but GOOD keeps on giving, and I want to share this great example of the power of storytelling with my thousands of readers (cue the crickets…).

Seems little bitty library in a little bitty town (Shutesbury, MA) is under threat of closure. Just like in your hometown, “Kids come to practice their reading. Adults come to use internet and search for jobs. And just like in other towns, a budget crisis is preventing the community from maintaining the facility they deserve: The 900-square foot building, built in 1902, doesn’t have running water or even any space for patrons to sit down and hang out. Much of the town is restricted to dial-up internet, so townspeople naturally want to use the library’s high speed connection, says Emily Bloch, a volunteer. “Except there’s no place for people to sit inside, so people park in the parking lot and idle with their laptops.”

So small there’s no place to sit down? What’s to love?

A lot, as it turns out. Libraries everywhere are under siege by the dual threats of imploding tax revenues and the internet.

But Shutesbury is not going to allow its library to go down easy:

“An incredibly cute YouTube video by filmmaker Lindsay Van Dyke recruited local people to demonstrate their love of their library. The short gets to the essence of what makes libraries so important: having a haven for ideas, inspiration, and creativity. The video’s gotten 35,000 hits in a little more than a month, inspiring nearly $40,000 in donations from donors across the country as well as Singapore, Australia, Canada, Kenya, and Europe.”

I couldn’t summarize this story any better than GOOD has, so here goes: “It’s an amazing example of what creativity combined with a community’s passion can do to get the world engaged about a local problem.”

Make a donation fans. Save a library.

~Christopher Smith

“Back in the day” I taught a copywriting course at the University of Oregon. I was teaching there at the same time as the inimitable Jelly Helm, and hope none of my students were not too disappointed when they found out the real genius was just down the hall. In any case, one of my favorite texts was Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan. As those with pants below their butts say, Luke is the sh*t.

I might delete that.

Point is, studying Whipple and following Luke, I got the students to understand a little about the CRAFT of writing. Because, as Luke describes himself, he’s a writer by trade.

What’s by trade got to do with it? Well, writing consistently well is not magic, it’s hard work. Luke is a singularly talented writer who, by his own admission, sucked in the beginning.

How did he overcome his suckitude? Like any artist, he listened, he learned, he paid his dues and wrote until the garbage was flushed out.

Read Luke here:

  1. “Study the masters. Immerse yourself in their work over and over again until you have it memorized.
  2. Surround yourself with people who are better than you are.
  3. Don’t waste time defending your early efforts. Just shut up and listen to your teachers.
  4. Stay humble.
  5. Stay hungry.

Sooner or later you’ll produce something that looks like the work you’ve been studying and admiring. Like Ray Bradbury, one day you’ll lean back and realize, wow, all that work, it’s starting to pay off.” (Luke wrote this as a paragraph, you’ll see).

 

~Christopher Smith