The Subtle Art of Writing like Mark Manson

August 30, 2019 - Reading Time: 4 minutes

There’s much more to glean from Mark Manson, New York Times bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Everything is F*cked, than just general advice on life. Much of his popularity can be attributed to his style of writing. Manson has a way of drawing readers in with words and making abstract concepts easy to grasp. His works are also immensely entertaining; before you know it, you’ve read all the articles on his blog.

Here’s what makes his writing so addictive.

1. Storytelling

There’s a reason why every TED Talk begins with the speaker telling a story. It is the same reason Mark Manson starts many of his articles with a story or personal anecdote.

Via Mark Manson

Stories draw readers in immediately and make them interested in what comes next. It keeps them hooked. Personal anecdotes help Manson establish common ground with his readers and narrow the emotional distance between them. It also makes him more relatable to his audience.

2. Be your reader’s friend

The tone of your writing does two things: it builds your brand image and it determines the type of relationship that you have with your readers. Decide on your tone of voice by looking at the nature of the industry you’re in.

Manson is a self-help writer and personal development consultant. People look to him for life advice. Thus, he needs to appear authoritative yet approachable. This, in turn, informs how he writes his books and articles. Manson’s tone of voice is friendly but assertive. His use of colloquial language, as well as a generous amount of curse words, allows him to establish intimacy with his readers. This is why reading his articles may feel akin to having a conversation with a friend. The lesson here isn’t to swear in your writing but to adopt the language in which your audience speaks so as to connect with them. Your tone should also always be consistent with your brand image. For instance, a B2B business should adopt a more formal tone of voice and swearing is a definite no-no.

3. Be passionate

Why do so many readers all over the world trust the words of Mark Manson? The reason is simple: he believes in those words he’s preaching.

Passion is as captivating as it is contagious and it is important to bring that across in your writing. It is the difference between a boring piece and a persuasive one. The good news is, if you’re passionate about the topic you are writing about, it will naturally manifest in your writing. However, it won’t hurt to pay special attention to your sentence structures and the words you use to convey your point. Using words that evoke emotion can make a flat sentence more dynamic.

Here’s an example:

The first sentence makes you feel something while the other leaves much to be desired.

4. Use short, concise sentences

Short sentences are great.

They’re punchy.

They’re easy to read.

They create good flow and rhythm.

Manson uses this technique a lot in his work. Here are some excerpts taken from one of his articles on love:

“One of these two men had a clear and realistic understanding of love. One of them did not. One of these men idealized love as the solution to all of his problems. One of them did not. One of these men was probably a narcissistic asshole. One of them was not.”

 

“You can fall in love with a wide variety of people throughout the course of your life. You can fall in love with people who are good for you and people who are bad for you. You can fall in love in healthy ways and unhealthy ways. You can fall in love when you’re young and when you’re old. Love is not unique. Love is not special. Love is not scarce.”

Short sentences make reading less daunting and that means your audience is less likely to ignore your content. They also help readers grasp concepts more easily. Writing in short sentences forces a writer to distil the key points of his or her message and to keep things simple for the reader.

5. Be funny

Humour never fails to make things more interesting and to keep people engaged. It also makes things more memorable.

Manson’s brand of humour might not be for everyone but it appeals to his target audience. Likewise, brands should make jokes that fit their audience’s sense of humour; this will help you connect with them. Do your market research before you try anything funny. Do what seems natural for your brand; don’t try to force jokes into your writing.

The next time you need to write copy of your own, keep these five tips in mind. Just remember: your writing style should be always aligned with your brand personality and the context of your message. Be sure to apply these pointers only when it makes sense.

 

 

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The Rise of Socially-Conscious Businesses

August 15, 2019 - Reading Time: 5 minutes

Diet Coke recently launched a campaign to start conversations about societal labels by removing their own. The ‘[unlabelled]’ campaign aims to encourage people to look past labels and to recognise the individuality in each person.

The campaign got a soft launch in June where unlabelled Diet Coke cans were distributed at events it sponsored. There are plans to expand this to retail outlets. Diet Coke has also turned its Instagram and Facebook accounts into safe spaces where people can share their own stories.

Via Diet Coke

It wasn’t too long ago when brands taking a stand on sensitive topics was unthinkable. Fearing that doing so would be a turn-off to potential customers, businesses have developed a knee-jerk reaction to avoid talking about these issues. So why are we starting to see brands like The Coca-Cola Company publicly taking a stance on controversial and sensitive issues, even going as far as to initiate it?

Here’s the answer in a statement from Keri Kopp, group director of Diet Coke, on the ‘[unlabelled]’ campaign:

“In today’s culture, people believe in a world where everyone can be their true, best selves – and Diet Coke wants to celebrate that. We’ve been our fans’ wingman since the ‘80s and we continue to listen to what’s important to them and honour who they are.”

Diet Coke recognises the change in public rhetoric and is aligning its brand with the values of its consumers. Millennials prefer to do business with corporations and brands with pro-social messages, sustainable manufacturing methods and ethical business standards. In 2015, Nielson’s Global Corporate Sustainability Report showed that 66% of global consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. Another study found that more than 90% of Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause.

In the age of “woke-ness”, where “woke” means to be aware of societal issues, brands are no longer penalised for speaking up on them. In fact, the opposite is true – brands could get flak if they stay silent on an issue that the public perceives to be in their influence. Think oil companies and climate change.

So how should brands go about being more socially responsible and communicating it?

1. Choose who you sell to

Patagonia, an outdoor brand, recently changed its policies for corporate sales clients. It will only take on new corporate clients that have a charity element or are committed to supporting a cause, namely B-Corp certified corporations. Current customers in their corporate sales program won’t be affected.

Via HBO

This move will strike a significant blow in revenue considering the fact that many of Patagonia’s corporate clients come from tech and Wall Street. However, it is a move that makes sense branding-wise. The brand has become too closely associated with Wall Street and Silicon Valley, to the point where its vests are being viewed as “Wallstreet uniforms”. By carefully selecting which companies they sell to, Patagonia is practising what it preaches and cultivating its image as “The Activist Company”.

2. Collaborate wisely

Colin Kaepernick made headlines when he refused to stand during the American national anthem at the NFL to protest police brutality. It was controversial; some Americans supported him while others, including President Donald Trump, criticised him for disrespecting his country.

Nike then made a bold move. They picked Kaepernick to front their commemorative “Just Do It” campaign.

By having Kaepernick front the campaign, Nike was aligning itself with a stance. It was a risky move and the backlash came. People uploaded clips of themselves burning their Nike products on social media with the hashtags #BurnYourNikes and #NikeBoycott.

As with any controversial act, you win some and you lose some. In this case, Nike won more than it lost. Its stocks rose since it announced that Kaepernick would feature in the campaign. This added nearly $6 billion to the company’s market value. People were buying Nike shoes in support of the ad.

Nike’s move also struck a core in young Americans. According to a poll, 44% of those aged 18 to 34 supported the brand’s decision to have Kaepernick front its campaign while 32% opposed it. The poll also showed that a majority of African-Americans and college-educated Americans supported the ad.

Consumers in support of Kaepernick and Nike were buying the brand. Those who weren’t in support were also, ironically, buying the brand just so they could destroy them. Either way, Nike’s move paid off.

3. Raise awareness through campaigns

Dove is a brand known for being an advocate of natural beauty thanks to its numerous campaigns centred on the topic. The Dove Self-Esteem Project is one example. Aimed at cultivating self-confidence and helping girls overcome body image issues, the Self-Esteem Project provides free online resources for parents, educators and youth leaders. This campaign follows other multiple great campaigns by Dove that seek to rewrite conventional beauty standards.

These campaigns are not tactical in generating sales but they have been extremely effective in building Dove’s brand image and positioning the brand as a champion of natural beauty.

4. Encourage customers to support a cause

Kiehl’s ‘Recycle & Be Rewarded’ programme encourages customers to recycle their empty Kiehl’s bottles by rewarding them with stamps for every bottle they return its store. Customers can also collect stamps by bringing their own reusable tote bags. Customers can use these stamps to redeem travel-sized products and even a tote bag. The programme is a hit – Kiehl’s collects about 2,000 bottles each month in Singapore.

Businesses could also offer discounts to reward eco-friendly behaviour. Starbucks customers in Singapore get to enjoy a S$0.50 discount whenever they bring their own mug or tumbler. Starbucks also gives a free drink with every purchase of one of their tumblers.

Implementing consumer-targeted initiatives is a good way to raise awareness for the cause you support and the fact that you support it.

Being socially-conscious isn’t just a new wave that brands should ride for the sake of it. It is important to practise what you preach; this means your policies and marketing tactics need to align with what you say you are. When it comes to socially-responsible marketing, having a clear understanding of your company values is important because those values will help you determine what causes you are most suited to commit to. Lastly, don’t see it as “marketing” but rather a way to give back to the community. It can’t go wrong if it comes from a genuine desire to help.

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Taylor Swift: Pop Icon & Marketing Genius

August 1, 2019 - Reading Time: 3 minutes

A celebrity is essentially a brand and Taylor Swift is one of the biggest in the business. This isn’t by sheer luck. Like most celebrities, Swift’s reputation has seen its fair share of ups and downs. What sets her apart, however, is her shrewdness in marketing herself and exercising control over her own image. By doing so, she has earned herself legions of loyal fans all around the globe.

Here are some branding lessons from the pop star:

1. Show your fans love

Taylor Swift takes fan interaction to a whole new level. From sending fans gifts to inviting them into her home for an exclusive preview of her new album, Swift consistently reaches out to her biggest fans to form genuine relationships with them. This has earned her die-hard fans and positive media coverage.

Via Taylor Swift

Here’s the takeaway for businesses: If you want loyal customers, you have to earn them. Customers, like fans, want to feel seen and heard. It always feels nice to be acknowledged and even appreciated by a brand you frequently buy. Reward returning customers by giving discounts, freebies and even invitations to exclusive events. This encourages them to be loyal to your brand.

Businesses should also build relationships with customers. One way to do that is through social media.

2. Build relationships with fans

Swift is known for her interactions with fans on social media. She actively engages fans on social media by commenting on their Instagram posts, taking part in their polls and even sending them messages directly. This sets her apart from other celebrities; most only go as far as replying comments left on their own social media posts. These intimate interactions have helped her build a loyal fan base.

Don’t be afraid to engage your social media followers in a conversation. This doesn’t just humanise your brand, it allows you to get to know your target market a little better.

3. Use social media to get to know your fans

Before the release of each new album, Swift invites her biggest fans to attend “Secret Sessions” where they get to meet the star and listen to her new album before everyone else. Swift supposedly “stalks” her fans and selects them for the event personally.

By looking at their social media activity, Swift is able to determine how big of a fan they are, as well as their names, ages and interests. This helps Swift engage them in a conversation when they do meet face to face. It’s clear that her fans appreciate the effort she puts in.


There’s a wealth of information on your audience on social media. Use it to gain a better understanding of them. This will help you create content and brand experiences that are catered to their tastes.

4. Take control in a crisis

Via TAIT

When you’re as famous as Taylor Swift, you’re bound to get embroiled in controversies. Negative press could make or break a celebrity and a brand. Swift was labelled a “snake” due to a very public fallout with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Her “good girl” image crumbled overnight and it looked like her career would follow suit. However, instead of trying to bury the incident, Swift hit back with a new album, merchandise and music videos that heavily featured snake imagery. By embracing what was initially meant to hurt her, Swift didn’t just regain control over her public image, she profited from it. You got to admit that’s pretty savvy.

Even though her methods would probably never work for a business experiencing bad PR, there is still something to be learned from this: Don’t run away from a crisis. Staying silent is the worst thing you can do. Address the situation publicly; this will allow you to regain some control over what is being said about your brand in the media. You should also convey your sincerity to change, one way to do this is by publicly announcing concrete plans for improvement.

Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift’s smart marketing has made her one of the biggest stars on the planet. Brands could really learn a thing or two by observing how she navigates the media and interacts with fans.

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