I first came across Lesley Morrissey through her excellent website, which is full of great resources for anyone wanting to improve their marketing writing skills. I just had to pick her brains on all things writing, and B2B marketing. You can also follow Lesley on twitter here.
Lesley Morrissey runs Inside News Ltd specialising in reputation marketing; creating commercial copy and teaching people to use online marketing tools. She is co-author of The Reputation Game (with Peter Roper), published by Bookshaker in 2013.
Claire Trévien: Increasing readability is something you advocate, would you say that content marketing is still king?
Lesley Morrissey: Increasing readability is as much about how the message is presented as about the message itself. You can have a perfectly good message that is almost impossible to read because of things such as moving images, justified (or centred text), reversed out writing – and other things that zap comprehension!
Content is important though – there is nothing that has yet replaced words to explain the benefits you can get from engaging the services or buying the products on a particular website. Today content includes images (and video), but the words and the images must work together – you don’t know what people will choose as their preferred means of getting information.
CT: What drew you to commercial copywriting originally?
LM: I’ve always written since I was a child and did a lot of freelance feature writing during the 1980s-1990s. My writing skills got me a job with Dubai Duty Free and I moved to writing newsletters, awards presentations, marketing material and more.
During this time we worked with J Walter Thompson as our ad agency and I started learning about how people process information from an ‘old-hand’ at the agency. I was fascinated and continued learning.
CT: What would you say are the greatest challenges faced by B2B businesses trying to market themselves?
LM: Marketing is something that ‘anybody’ can do, especially with easy access to the internet and all the tools that are now at our command. The secret is to have a plan!
The thing that makes the biggest difference to the success of any company’s marketing is a clear idea of their ideal client and so few businesses bother to really nail this down. If you know who you are trying to reach, finding them gets easier and the message can be highly targeted.
CT: Do you think there’s danger in over-emphasizing the importance of social media, or should it be a key part of any marketing strategy?
LM: Social media is a tool – and it can be used well or poorly – or, in some cases, not at all. Social media should not be ignored – but used with discretion so that your input is focused on your target market in the places they are likely to be looking. If you’re a B2B business LinkedIn is going to be the most effective platform; if you’re B2C then Facebook could be much more successful. It’s part of your overall strategy – failing to use it can label you a dinosaur and lose you ground in the marketing battle, especially if your competitors are active.
CT: What do you think is the ‘next big thing’ in marketing? Or, what you like to see more of?
LM: I wish I had a crystal ball! Some of the next ‘big’ things have fizzled out whilst others have flown. With Periscope starting to gain ground, the video side of online marketing on mobile devices is clearly established, I think that creating online video content will get easier – and tools to improve the results for non-professionals will get better.
I’d like to see websites that don’t sacrifice content for aesthetics; you can have both, but designers are rarely taught about how the human brain processes the written word – or doesn’t – I’d like to see that become a much more important aspect of creating a website.