Book review – May I have your attention please? by Mish Slade

When it came to deciding what to call their copywriting business, Mish and Rob Slade went for Mortified Cow. (Unfortunately, there’s no entertaining story about how it happened, because they just ‘pulled it out of the air’.)

Mortified Cow is a strategic choice, a take-no-prisoners kind of name that bangs a drum while yelling, ‘if you’re a fan of joyless, robotic corp-speak, we’re not the right copywriters for you.’

Given the couple’s obvious commitment to ‘personalityful words’, it’s no surprise that Mish Slade’s book May I Have Your Attention, Please? Your Guide to Business Writing That Charms, Captivates and Converts, is gunning for puffery, clichés and vagueness – anything that makes copy dry and unappealing to customers and clients.

Short, snappy and upbeat, the book’s target audience is small business owners who suffer from Flat Copy Syndrome, and need help sounding more human and engaging.

But if you’re a newbie copywriter who’s looking to get a handle on the basics, it has plenty of hints and tips for you too.

Even though May I Have Your Attention, Please? wants to stamp out the kind of copywriting that causes drowsiness, it doesn’t recommend making everything you write sound Innocent-esque.

(Don’t get me wrong, the smoothie-monger’s cheeky tone of voice is great. The lacklustre imitations? Not so much.)

Instead, it’s all about producing copy that:

  • reflects what brands stand for
  • is easy to understand
  • has individuality
  • shows customers and clients why buying what’s on offer is a no-brainer

Slade’s wordsmithing wisdom is divided into brief and easily digestible chapters. The topics she covers include: grabbing your audience’s attention, planting your personality firmly on the page and getting rid of any filler.

And, as well as convincingly arguing for conversational language, Slade shows why it’s daft to try and win everyone over instead of finding a niche.

She also describes the perils of copying your competitors’ writing instead of having the guts and self-belief to craft your own.

The book’s peppered with a mixture of ‘I wish I could write like that’ examples from brands like Apple and Dollar Shave Club, and lesser-known companies like Smooch Rings.

They’re helpful because they give you an idea of what effective copy sounds like. And they make it clear that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to coming up with irresistible words. It depends on who you’re targeting, what you’re about and what your aims are.

Slade’s well-chosen examples are motivating too. Seeing stuffy, character-free copy side by side with the type that effortlessly draws you in, makes you want to do better writing-wise.

Reading how-to books like May I Have Your Attention Please? is the easy part. You sit back, let the advice and instructions wash over you, and secretly hope you’ll absorb it all without having to do anything.

But you don’t need me to tell you that, to get the most of out of what you’ve read, you need to take time, and put effort into, applying what you’ve learnt.

Slade’s got this covered. She has a free, 2-week, online copywriting boot camp that helps you put what you’ve read into practice.

Sign up and you’ll get 6 emails over 2 weeks with instructions, templates, and exercises that’ll help you create copy you can be proud of.

Don’t worry, the quality’s top notch. Way higher than what you get with the usual ‘here’s a few nicely presented, but bloody obvious, titbits for the price of your email address. We both know the main event’s the course I’m selling though, don’t we?’ type of freebie.

The upshot? Reading May I Have Your Attention, Please? is like having a session with a sharp, funny and encouraging copywriting mentor. (One who’s a total hardass when it comes to boring writing.) Buy it now if your copy’s aching for an injection of energy, personality and wit.

This article was first published by Lynn Reynolds on her website

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