This week I was in London and it reminded me of an exercise I was once asked to do on a copywriting course to prove the importance of storytelling technique. The exercise was simply this…

Grab a piece of paper and spend five minutes writing down everything that comes to mind when you think of a black cab.

If you’re like me, you might have things on your list like comfort, more space, iconic, safe…

Now categories these things according to whether they’re features of the cab, or an emotional connection with the cab. For example, if I categorise my list above it would look like this:

  • Comfort – emotional
  • More space – feature
  • Iconic – emotion
  • Safe – emotion

Now take a look at the features on your list and consider whether they really are features, or if there’s a deeper emotional connection. For example, I’ve said the cab has more space when compared to the bus/tube, but this makes me feel relaxed and very happy that I don’t have to spend my journey pressed into someone’s smelly armpit.

Substitute ‘black cab’ for your product/service and this exercise can be applied to anything to help you make an emotional connection (even to something seemingly boring, like cloud storage!).

People buy based on their emotions

As a rule, if you feel something you do something. Make me angry and I’ll probably vent online. Make me fall in love with a gorgeous pair of glittery shoes and I’ll buy them. So when you’re writing about your product/service, you need to make the reader feel something.

In ‘Contagious ’, a fabulous book about how to give your content the best chance of going viral, it talks about emotion. Specifically, if you want people to share your content, you have to induce a ‘high-arousal’ emotion, such as excitement, awe, amusement, anger, anxiety – anything that gets your blood pumping and gives you butterflies in your tummy.

Therefore, if you’re to achieve extensive brand awareness, you have to drop the features-led copy, and instead, opt for something more engaging that hooks people in, and compels them to share it with others.

Don’t be a ‘me-too’

“We’re a trusted partner.

“Our experienced consultants.”

“A first-class service.”

“Working as part of your team.”

“We’re different.”

Any of those sound familiar? I often have a feeling of déjà vu, and it’s because after a while, everyone starts speaking the same language. They all pump out the same jargon and technobabble thinking it makes them sound different, or even unique. In reality, adopting this corporate façade only makes you sounds like everyone else.

People buy from people

I know, I know, you’ve heard it a million times before, but who would you rather buy from:

“At Black Cabs Ltd, we offer a first-class service that gets you from point A to point B.”


“Take an iconic London black cab and Dave will show you the sights in comfort as you make your way to the West End.”

Be human. Be honest. Just be you.

Practicing what I preach!

When I started freelancing seven years ago, I went under the name ‘Copy & Cupcakes’. I put up this corporate shop front, adopting an authoritative tone and style – but it just wasn’t me. So after having my second son Oscar, I returned to work as Alice Hollis. I told people my story, shared my experience and stopped treating people as clients. The way I see it, if people want to work with me, it’s me they want; if they wanted corporate, they’d go and find a suitable agency.

Want to know more about me? Visit my ‘About’ page.