Booksplanation- Scientific advertising

Scientific advertising (by Hopkins) outlines timeless observations on copywriting and advertisements. 

Lessons I learnt from the book- 

  • Salesmanship- Ads are sales engines. Interest of the buyer is the ONLY thing that needs to be conveyed in your ads. Write things that will make them buy. 
  • Offer service- A good ad, never screams ‘Buy this for  $$$’. Talk about the value, offer service and let consumers take action. 
  • Headlines- People don’t read, they skim. The headlines should seek out your audience from the crowd. 
  • Being specific- If a claim is worth making, do it the most impressive way. Generality suggests looseness in expression and carelessness. 
  • Reasoning- People don’t switch products/habits without a reason. Find ‘THAT’ reason for your product. 
  • Fail fast- Any assumption can be answered cheaply with a test campaign (not by arguments) with your consumers. Let a few thousands decide what you will show to millions. 

That’s 150 words. 


The compressing excercise

I was browsing for topics to write. Some of the ideas I had

  • Required more research
  • Couldn’t fit in 150 words or less.

While I could solve for research, I couldn’t solve for concise writing. So I took up an exercise- rewriting one section wikipedia page (of CrowdStrike).

Why? Primarily because, Wikipedia encourages users to write ‘concise’ copies.
Compressing an already edited article (with the essence intact) is going to be a challenge.

I took this (196 words).

And condensed it to 71 words.

CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. is a technology company in the cybersecurity space. It was co-founded by George Kurtz (CEO), Dmitri Alperovitch (CTO) and Gregg Marston (CFO). Their first product CrowdStrike Falcon helps government agencies and against cyberattacks. They have a sister company CrowdStrike Service Inc, focussing on incident response services.

CrowdStrike was instrumental in helping US agencies uncover

  • Economic surveillance by Chinese on corporations.
  • Russian surveillance against companies in the energy sector.

If you’re someone getting to master copywriting, nothing better than compression exercise. This exercise was inspired from here.


Being specific is convincing

“Generalities roll off the human understanding lik water from a duck” wrote Hopkins in Scientific advertising (in 1923). 

Cut to today

Scrolling across product websites, and you will find copies with non-specific words like transform, seamless, etc. Rarely specific. 

Let’s see a parallel example. 

A salesperson answering- How are you different from your competitor?

S1: We are the best and the most economical option for small business accounting. We have better features. 

S2: We have been rated by 76 SMBs as their top choice for accounting software. Plus, we are cheaper than our competitor by 18% at every pricing plan. 

It’s a no brainer- S2 was more convincing. Specific details in conversations and landing pages show implied promise. They also ascertain that you have done some groundwork before making a claim. 

Generality is like asking  “How do you do?” when you have no intention of inquiring about one’s health.

Specifics sell, always. Here are two examples I love from Ahrefs and Tyepform




Microcopies as a growth tool

Micro copies are smaller texts, that elicit a specific action from the user. Done right, they create memorable experiences with your product. 

Here’s an example from Slack. They had a unique message every time I clicked on their search bar. 

So this got me thinking- How can micro copies be used as a marketing weapon. I researched and found a few use cases for various scenarios. 

Social proof– Ahrefs shows how many people signed up in a particular week. Note how they’ve placed their customer logos

Customer delight– Freshdesk shows this microcopy when someone clicks on “View detailed pricing plan”. That’s microcopies creating customer wow.

Clarifying messages– Done right, microcopies can dictate user behaviour. In this case, Trello clearly points out what each type of board means, shortening the learning curve. 

Persuasion– Copywriting and Apple. Enough said.  Here’s Apple addressing their biggest pain point (their cost) with a microcopy. 


‘Ask’- The underrated marketing skill

I’ve been a marketer for 4+ years. Most of the successful campaigns I have seen, observed and implemented had one thing in common- Great distribution. 

When it comes to distribution, one place where we have seen a lot of frustrations is asking influencers and friends to share your stuff. It becomes trickier when it does not involve an incentive. 

Couple of pointers when asking for favours- These are not exhaustive, but things that have worked for me. 

  • Make it attractive for them- Opportunities, conference passes, exposure, exclusivity, etc. 
  • Invest in relationships- Make a list of people and keep engaging with them continuously. Not just when you need them. 
  • Be specific- One email, one ask. 
  • Keep your pitch to less than 150 words. 
  • Be genuine and reasonable. 

Make no mistake- A good idea, copy and design are necessary for a good marketing campaign. But distribution trumps all. Ok, that’s 150 words.  


Three observations on community building

Let’s admit it- Building communities is hard. It becomes more if you’re a brand trying to create a group of super fans. I found myself heading the path, and made three observations. 

Hence, the three observations of community building. 

First law

The community continues to remain in the state of a ‘support channel’ (or rant platform) unless acted upon by the community manager. 

Second law

Number of full time (F) members in your community is a byproduct of good Marketing (M) and Answers (A) they can seek for their product needs or their everyday challenges. 

F= m*a

Third law

For every engaged user, there are 100 others who are just consuming content from your community. 


Booksplanation- Atomic Habits

It’s the ‘milli’ things that matter. Be it building great things or cultivating habits. Atomic habits uncovers the hacks and science of building habits. It revolves around two principles

  • Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.
  • Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. Tiny changes (good and bad) compound over time.

A few hacks from Atomic habits that helped me

Make habits a part of your identity. Ex- Don’t lose weight, try to become fitter.

  • Habit stacking- Stack a new habit over what you already do. Ex-I will write after my morning coffee.
  • Be part of a culture where your desired behaviour is the normal behaviour. Ex- A group that writes everyday.
  • Instantaneous rewards drive habit repetition. Ex- Workout to change your mood/feel(instant reward) and not to lose weight (delayed reward).

Here is my favourite quote from the book

That’s 150 words!


What is Millimatters?

Milli- The word denotes one thousandth of something.

And our everyday life is filled with a ton of ‘milli’ moments. Takeaways from impromptu conversations, random reflections and observations. While they create an ‘aha’ moment the first time we read/see/reflect on them, we tend to quickly forget about it and move on.

That’s precisely what I want to journal. I am blessed with a great set of friends, mentors, and family. I keep discussing stuff around marketing, advertising and books. I want to capture those ‘milli’ discussions and document them.

How? I want to do this in a crisp and concise way. Hence I am challenging myself to write these in 150 words (or less).

So each blog will

  • Take less than 90 seconds
  • Have 1 takeaway.

I hope you enjoy reading it (and show some love).