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New Work – True|IT Gets IT with Messaging, Website, Copywriting

fredcomm boils IT down for business technology company

“Technology That Works” is the tagline for True|IT, a business technology company in West Fargo, N.D. When the company needed messaging strategy, website content and marketing material copywriting that works, it turned to Martin at Fredricks Communications. Check out the new True|IT page in the “my work” section.

 

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Brand Story: 10 Reasons to Work with FredComm

it’s your business. it’s your story. let’s tell it well.

 

  1. Focus on Your Strengths
    There’s no need to steal time and energy from your passion and core competency. Instead, benefit from a great brand story without taking your eye off the ball. Listen, you’re great at what you do. Why not hire someone who is great at strategic messaging development, copywriting and content creation for advertising, marketing, public relations and social media?
  2. You’re Too Busy
    Isn’t everyone? Let me take that copywriting or content creation project off your plate, get it done well and give it back to you, ready to go.
  3. Copywriting Is Not Like Other Writing
    Anyone can string words together, but few can effectively copywrite. Advertising, marketing and promotional materials require specialized experience and expertise, and Fredricks Communications has it.
  4. Fresh Perspective
    You’re close to your business or institution, as you should be. But maybe you’re too close to give the branding and messaging a new, more objective and more effective approach. I’ll bring a fresh eye to the project and to your business.
  5. Experience
    I’ve been in advertising, marketing and advertising for a couple of decades, and I was a newspaper reporter/editor before that. I’ve served all kinds of clients, from sole proprietors to companies with hundreds of employees, that do business in my region, across the country and globally. And they keep coming back.
  6. Strategic Focus & Execution
    You need more than just a wordsmith; you need someone who can help with strategic direction, too. I’ve been building brands and strategic messaging for a long time, so I can, and do. Plus, I can do it better, faster and cheaper than a large agency with several layers of people (bottlenecks) on your account.
  7. Deadlines Are Sacred
    FredComm has a rock-solid track record for on-time delivery.
  8. Pout-Free Service
    You want someone who is easy to work with, puts ego aside, produces crisp and effective writing, and won’t make a scene if you make copy changes. That’s me.
  9. Best Team for Every Client
    I’ve worked in agencies and as part of an in-house marketing team. That background trained me to think visually and work closely with art directors and graphic designers on creative concepts, a valuable skill essential to producing strong work. With my “virtual team,” a group of talented professionals who provide complementary services like graphic design, website design, photography and so on, I’m able to deliver exceptional work without breaking your bank.
  10. Less Expense
    Some people think hiring outside talent on a project basis is expensive. In fact, the opposite is true. You get exceptional results while saving the costs of salary, benefits, and office space for an on-staff writer. Plus, the more you work with me, the more I get to know your organization, products and services, and the faster I can do every new project.

Bonus: Fun
I like to have it. So do the pros I work with. And FredComm clients appreciate it.

Let’s get started. To build an effective brand story through strategic messaging development, copywriting, content creation and all the associated services that lead to advertising, marketing and public relations success, get in touch today.

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Man in front of blackboard with huge, muscular arms drawn on board

Creativity Muscles: We All Have Them. We All Can Build Them.

Creativity is not a birthright.

It is not something you’re born with.

It’s not something you either have or you don’t.

Even so, you’ve probably heard something like this before: “Oh, wow, she’s sooooo creative,” or “I have no idea where he comes up with his ideas. I could never do that.”

I can’t say this strongly enough –

BALDERDASH!

Let’s Make That Baloney into a Sandwich

Creativity is something we develop, so I’ll revise my previous statement. We are born with creativity; it’s called imagination. And that means every single one of us is born with the potential for creativity.

Every. Single. Rootin’ tootin’. Ever lovin’. One.

Whether it’s creating campaign concepts (i.e., coming up with The Big Idea), copywriting, graphic design, photography, videography, audio or a thousand other endeavors, creativity is in our hands, our heads and our hearts. All we need to do is look for it or, alternatively, be willing to let it in (or out, depending on your perspective).

To put it yet another way, we all have a set of creative muscles. And like literal muscles, we can exercise them, build them into something awesome with practice and repetition.

Take a Whack at It

Roger von Oech’s timeless book, “A Whack on the Side of the Head,” is a great place to start.

Von Oech, founder of Creative Think, says creativity is the result of thinking about what you already know in new ways. “Look at the same thing as everyone else and think something different,” is his advice.

He also defines 10 mental locks that keep our minds from making creative connections:

  • The Right Answer
  • That’s Not Logical
  • Follow The Rules
  • Be Practical
  • Avoid Ambiguity
  • To Err is Wrong
  • Play is Frivolous
  • That’s Not My Area
  • Don’t Be Foolish
  • I’m Not Creative

Fuhgeddaboudit

Like Von Oeck, I suggest turning those “rules” on their backsides.

  • There is no right answer, or, there’s always more than one right answer.
  • Creativity can be illogical, and that makes all kinds of sense.
  • Rules are made to be bent, broken and beaten into submission.
  • Be practical and see how far you get. Hint: not very. Besides, what seems impractical right now might be the most practical idea or solution in the world once you’ve tested it out.
  • Be ambiguous. Equivocate. Confuse things, stir them up and see what you wind up with.
  • Make mistakes. No one ever learned much from their successes.
  • Fool around. Have fun. PLAY with your ideas and thoughts, fer cryin’ out loud.
  • Approach everything as if it is your area. Pull the totality of your life’s experiences into looking at things in different ways.
  • Edison failed 1,000 times before inventing the light bulb. Some great fool, eh?
  • Not creative? Rubbish.

Release yourself, let your mind wander, follow paths that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. You might be surprised where you arrive.

What is “Creativity,” Anyway?

Dictionary.com defines it this way: (Creativity is) the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

  • Imagination? Yes, absolutely.
  • Original ideas? Well… maybe.
  • Especially in art? No siree.

Are artists creative? Without question. But you don’t need to be an artist to be creative in your work.

Mathematics jumps immediately to mind. (I can’t personally attest to it; there’s a reason I work with words, not numbers. Even so.) Without creative problem solving, it’s unlikely Katherine Johnson would have ever figured out how to get NASA’s ships into space, into orbit and back again. (Check out “Hidden Figures,” the book or the film.)

Your accountant wouldn’t be able to use combinations of rules, regulations and programs to your advantage come tax time. A logistics manager wouldn’t be able to come up with more efficient delivery routes. And so on.

Creative Connections

Some say there are no new ideas, that new ideas are simply combinations of old ideas or new applications for old ones. I think there’s something to that. How many TV ads have you seen lately that combine two seemingly disparate ideas into something new?

Familiarity or expertise breeds creativity. The better someone knows a topic, practices a skill or understands a concept, the more likely it is they’ll be able to make connections between old ideas that lead to new ones.

An oldie but a goodie is the milk mustache and overall health. Got milk? More recently, an insurance company developed the personification of mayhem with hilarious effect. Another pulls together the idea of insurance and replacement of damaged takeout. Good stuff, even if you don’t like the pizza.

Think. Or Maybe Don’t Think So Dang Hard.

In my view, creativity is simply the difference between stop-criticize-worry and allow-imagine-innovate.

Whatever works. The point is, when you give yourself that whack, you’ll have to think something different, or think differently, or don’t think at all and just let your mind wander, instead. You’ll be forced to be – drum roll, please – creative.

Do your reps. Build up your muscles. Don’t give up. And always, always remember, you can do it.

Heck, anyone can. How do I know? Because I was one of those “I’m-not-creative” guys myself once.

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Fredricks Communications Tips Graphic

Tip Tuesday: In Order to Achieve Greater Impact…

To be more concise and effective, always edit out “in order” and simply leave “to” in your advertising, marketing and public relations writing.

You’ll improve the impact, the POP!, of your writing without changing meaning almost every time.

Example:

  • In order to achieve invigorating writing, use active voice.
  • To achieve invigorating writing, use active voice.

Example:

  • We provide technical training in order to increase your efficiency and reduce overall costs.
  • We provide technical training to increase your efficiency and reduce overall costs.

But what about that pesky “almost” above?

Purists will spew some grammar mumbo-jumbo about how “in order to” is a subordinating conjunction. Huh? They’ll also say that when you drop “in order” you lose the underlying meaning of the phrase, which more clearly conveys intent than “to” alone. Your intent is to achieve invigorating writing, they’d say, and “in order to” conveys that more clearly. Same goes for the desire to increase efficiency.

They’re right. After all, they’re purists; being right is their job.

But who the heck even knows what a subordinating conjunction is. Right? Plus, here’s the thing –

Randomly ask 100 people which is more correct in those situations – “to” or “in order to” – and I’ll bet 99.99 percent of them won’t know the difference. Or give a rat’s patootie.

Which brings us back to Rule #2 for marketing writing: brevity.

(Rule #1 is to answer the Golden Question of Marketing – What’s in it for me?)

Dropping “in order” keeps your copy shorter, punchier.

It might not seem like much,  but over the course of a longer brochure or training video, dropping the two extra words makes a difference.

If you’re writing a novel or an in-depth assessment of foreign affairs, by all means, write “in order to.” I don’t want you starting any wars because the intent of your sentences wasn’t absolutely clear.

Otherwise, go with “to,” especially in advertising, marketing and public relations.

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No Pride in “Pretty Sure”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned about taking pride in my work in the back of a 1970s station wagon. That just sounds wrong, I know. But it’s true, and I apply what I learned there to copywriting, content development and dozens of other tasks for my clients every day.

It was my Uncle John’s old wagon, a Chrysler, I think, or maybe a Dodge, and I was tasked with cleaning it. Well.

If you’ve been around long enough to recall what was on the roads in the ’70s, you can picture it. Big as a freakin’ boat. Drove like one, too, floating on struts and shocks that made the huge, heavy car feel like it was rolling to and fro over waves. Faux wood paneling down the sides over that awful, dull pea-soup green that was so popular at the time. If my uncle had been a family man, this baby would have been the epitome of the fabled Family Truckster.

I was a broke teenager. Uncle John needed his roadster cleaned. He said he’d pay me $30 to clean it. I figured it would only take a couple of hours. Yeah, the car was big, but how hard could it be? Remember, this was the early 1980s; $15/hour was doggone good money.

A couple of hours later, I called it. And my uncle called the job what it was – crap.

I hadn’t vacuumed out the crevices, cleaned the insides of the windows, wiped down the dashboard… I thought he’d never get done pointing out all the things I hadn’t done, or hadn’t done right.

You’re not finished. / What? / The deal was you’d clean my car. It’s not clean. / But…

I whined. Kicked a couple of stones out of the dirt driveway. Uncle John stood firm.

“No use whining about it,” he said, “If you want to get paid, you have to finish the job and do it right.”

No one has better summarized work ethic, taking pride in your work and good customer service since.

I finished some time later, irritated as only a teenager can be. But I got paid.

I think of the old wagon and my uncle’s lesson every time I get shoddy, careless service. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. Like recently, at a home improvement store –

Excuse me, I’m looking for some plumber’s tape. / If we have that, it’ll be down aisle nine. “If,” I thought to myself. What “if” I go there and don’t find the plumber’s tape. Then what?

Or the thousands of times I’ve called a store in advance to find out if it stocks a certain item – Um, yeah, I think we have those. / You think? / Pause. Yeah, I’m pretty sure. / Pretty sure? / Pause. / Can you check, please? / Harrumph. Yeah, hang on….

One of the worst examples unfolded in front of my wife and me at a local grocery store over the past holiday season (and this was an exchange with the manager on duty, for cryin’ out loud) –

Hi. I’m trying to find the Keurig machines you have on special. / We don’t have those. / But I called earlier today and was told you have several on display and more in the back room. / Oh. Well…

She walked away, but stayed in our view, pushing empty carts toward the stacks near the front doors. She didn’t bother to call anyone to ask or send anyone in search of the Keurigs. Finally, I went searching myself, not for the Keurigs but for a stockboy. I was a stockboy once, so I knew that the stockboy knows or can find just about anything in the store. The young man I lassoed looked up and down several aisles, then went in the back and found a stack of about a dozen of the machines. Cheerfully. He’ll have her job in no time.

The manager on duty was the face of the store. Her service was crap. She was the face of crap.

If you want to get paid, finish the job and do it right. I always keep in mind that the result of the work I do will be associated with me forever. I want to be able to take pride in it.

To put it another way, I don’t ever want to be the face of crap. Who does, right?

Doesn’t matter if it’s copywriting or cleaning out a car, always do the best you can, and you won’t be.

 

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