Quest for Bold Web Content/Copy

letter "w" old typewriter key

hat will come next in the realm of web copywriting?

Content will certainly be a reflection of the current Google or Bing search results page– an amalgam of mixed media content from text results to video, images, and real-time feeds. Already many site owners, marketers and even businesses are incorporating a blend of content types.

Words are fundamental. In order to give search engines “consumables” associated with video, photos or graphics you need to supply alternate text anyhow, so keywords and relevant copy as content are hardly disappearing.

But now that web publishing and even business building tools have become popularly available tools for the masses, how will you go about bending page content so that it is less a mass produced replica of the “other guy’s” and even more engaging and appealing?

Look Outside the Web for “big” Content Ideas

Once you’re wired to the web it’s difficult at times to look outside it. But the concrete world still holds fast to some of the more compelling ideas available for the grabbing. Take your average book store…

I’ve written before on the inspiration I’ve gleaned from a bookstore–ANY bookstore– and I’ll emphasize it again since I just dug up a classic Clayton Makepeace post from 2006 on this very subject, Billions of Dollars in Marketing Research for Free. His thesis: from the works readily available to you in any bookstore you can glean marketing and sales inspiration and strategy all from sources that have been produced according to big-time marketing and consumer research.

Makepeace literally walks you around the key parts of a bookstore so that you have the opportunity, if you’re curious enough, tobooks on blue sunburst background see headlines, graphics, attention-getting tactics, book covers, book titles, magazine ads, storylines and much more. Check out the titles of all the bestsellers, he suggests; then go onto the non-fiction bestsellers, open them up and see where the most interesting chapter titles are; don’t miss the magazines–headlines, font and typefaces, graphics, design elements, seasonal colors, stories, etc.

I’ll add to this some young adult novels and games, especially the fantasy– extremely marketing-driven. Words like “magic,” “secret,” “discover,” “imagine” all are marketing terms and scattered throughout these products. My 11-year old nephew is crazy for fantasy fiction, games, swords, ninja stories and fables. He has “magic” game cards, elaborate picture books, and stories about made up people that read more like fact than fancy–they are all works quite capable of bending reality, or from my creative writing days– building verisimilitude.

Contemporary movies–the same. Ask yourself what is the current appeal? What are certain audiences most turned on by? Check out the current movie listings. Do they differ geographically? High tech animation, 3-D effects, drama, comedy, holiday, current documentaries, current indies….

(I just watched a great documentary, Helvetica. It is the story of the typeface and it’s loaded with inspiration. I literally filled 2 notebook pages with notes while I watched)

Here’s a list of concrete content sources existing outside the web that are fodder for bigger and bolder content and copy ideas:

  • Fiction books
  • Non-fiction books
  • Magazine rack
  • Newspapers
  • Mainstream movies
  • Indie movies
  • Documentaries
  • Current events
  • Fashion trends
  • Sports
  • Seasonal colors
  • Holidays
  • Current design movements and trends
  • Art galleries and museums

The external sources around you available for inspiration are only as limited as your imagination and inner eye. I believe that web copy and content is going to plateau in effectiveness and value at some point in the not too distant future and the ability to be bold and creative while still staying relevant and appealing will be critical for breaking ahead of the pack.

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2 Comments on “Quest for Bold Web Content/Copy”

  1. merck Says:

    Reminds me of when I went to go see American Gangster a few years ago. Since I always carry a pen and paper, I found myself grabbing it to take notes on Denzel’s lines! They were choc full of legitimate business ideas like “be a giver first and foremost.”

    Crazy to take business etiquette from an international drug dealer?

    It’s media, like you say, but once you add in your own personal ethics and creativity then you’ll never be at a loss for good business ideas.


  2. jrotman Says:

    Yes! Exactly. You’re watching this movie and suddenly you’re struck by some bit of dialogue, or a plot twist and if you’ve anticipated your nature, you have a pen tucked close by….nice. Thanks.


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