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A list of posts I wanted to write…

… but couldn’t find the time to finish.

1. Is the Boy Scouts’ survey designed to change minds?

The BSA sent out a survey about their policy banning gay scouts. Based on what we know about suggestive questions—how words can frame ideas—does the survey give us insight into the BSA’s plans?

Why I didn’t find time to write it: By the time I got around to it, Slate had already done it better.

2. Did bad copywriting kill Groupon?

Two years ago I wrote a post called “What Groupon Knows About Writing That You Don’t,” in which I attributed Groupon’s meteoric rise to the success of their copywriting. Now Groupon’s stock is down 80%, they’re losing money, and their CEO Andrew Mason was fired last month. The Groupon brand and the “daily deals” business model they pioneered is nearing irrelevance. Given this outcome, did copywriting really make any difference for Groupon? Has their writing gotten better or worse? And would I be better of scrubbing my old blog post from the Internet, since it’s now slightly embarrassing?

Why I didn’t find time to write it: I started reading some of the latest Groupon emails and promotions and got bored. That combined with a feeling that there isn’t a need to keep piling on Groupon.

3. The devilish “in customer cart” callout

one_kings_lane_cart

Popular deals site One Kings Lane has a callout that shows when products are “Sold Out” (a standard feature on e-commerce sites everywhere) but also has one that says “In Another Member’s Cart” (something relatively new). The “in cart” callout suggests that if you don’t buy the product at the next chance, it will soon be gone forever. Urgency! And yet, very often products on One Kings Lane switch from “In Another Member’s Cart” to available in just a few seconds. I suspect this might be a fake callout designed to whip people into a shopping frenzy. Whichever it is, it works. I bought a chair almost instantly after seeing that callout, convinced it was a great deal I was going to miss if I didn’t act fast. (It worked on me and I’m a marketing professional who ought to be immune to such tactics!)

Why I didn’t find time to write it: I’m not sure if the callout is real or engineered, and I felt uneasy about accusing somebody of playing tricks without evidence. Especially since I might sometimes have to interact professionally with people who work for One Kings Lane.

4. Why ad-supported online journalism is finished

Lately, several writers have gotten some social media attention by bemoaning the state of the journalism business on their blogs. (In particular, see Nate Thayer and Allyson Bird.) But to me, the most alarming story I’ve read lately is this Adweek article about sketchy publishers who reverse-engineer ad metrics. Journalists, THAT is your competition. It’s not about quality content, it’s about code and cunning. In the ad-supported online economy, a journalist has no leverage, no purpose, and no hope of making a living.

Why I didn’t find time to write it: Nobody wants to read another sad article about journalism. I’d rather look for something cheerful to write about.

* * * *

Finally: I’m sorry for the slow pace of updates on Breaking Copy lately. I’ve been busy doing real work!

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Copywriting

One comment

  1. Filip says:

    Tell me about it :-). So many ideas and so little time..

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