Display ad design

Need inspiration for a digital display campaign?

Oracle recently bought a little known internet company called Moat.com.

It lets users search for web banner advertisements by brand. 

It’s a Godsend.

Screenshot 2017-06-28 at 12.54.07

Most web media designers are employed full-time by expensive web agencies. Your regular wordpress developer often prefers to focus on the technical side, and even exclusively on websites – which makes it difficult to get a compelling display banner ad for your campaign.

Researching what’s out there by the main players in your industry lets you research a really thorough brief.

This makes it much more achievable for a designer to create something stunning.

Marketing in the customer’s environment


Everyone is busy. C-suite decision-makers are usually not available to take a call. It doesn’t matter how good your pitch is if nobody gets to hear it.

Traditionally, glossy direct marketing pieces in attractive boxes were considered the way to capture your prospect’s attention. The cost was huge.

If you have a really compelling message, there is a simple way to get it across.

This approach can be used to access sales decision-makers, court the press or head-hunt a candidate.

A custom, pre-recorded MP3 lets the customer hear what you have to say. They can listen on their smartphone while moving between meetings. It could be hosted and linked with SoundCloud or emailed directly.

A basic example is start with a voicemail and add the audio from your company video.

For a more sophisticated approach, first practise and perfect your script. Then use audio editing to personalise, update and reuse the same recording every time. You could even add a background soundtrack.

All this can be created with free tools or save time by outsourcing to a marketing freelancer.

My favourite direct marketing piece

Irish lottery ticket

A marketing team with large budgets receives lots of mailshots. Everything is trying to get your attention. One piece I remember vividly was a simple letter with a lotto ticket enclosed.

It’s impossible not to 1) check the ticket and 2) marvel at how the sender got your complete and undivided attention. It was also a very low budget execution for a B2B marketing campaign.

In spite of it’s simplicity this technique has not been overused.

And if you’d like to brainstorm new ideas for cold calling hot prospects, please get in touch.

Write Marketing Copy to drive sales


Marketing and copywriting are part of the same process. Typically the marketing brief defines the core messages and after this the copywriting process focuses on wordsmithing.

However, most businesses do not employ a professional copywriter so the two activities go together. This is not a problem once you take time to think about what is going into the piece before the writing process begins.

Here are some marketing tips to develop your copywriting brief:

  1. Jump straight in on a persuasive, clearly-defined benefit. Make sure “it does what it says on the tin”. Use descriptive language economically by prioritising strong, descriptive verbs in favour of adverbs.
  2. The classic marketing approach is to create a need – and have the product fulfill that need. Unlike the Dettol no-touch handwash, make sure the need is legitimate. Customers are intelligent.
  3. If there is a USP already defined on your company website, focus in on this. Easy!
  4. Nutribullet does this brilliantly. Associate the product with an idea or emotion. Strange how we feel healthier after watching those infomercials. The feeling of being healthy becomes the goal. It can also work in reverse, when the product aims to solve a problem and provide relief to a negative feeling. Senokot’s happy morning after shot shows how this is done.
  5. Show how popular the product is and quantify this with numbers. No!No! use millions of customers as their core message. It shows the product is mainstream. Updating the number of customers regularly shows a consistent pattern of success, and therefore evidence of value to the customer.
  6. Use a case study or testimonial: A really good B2B case study quantifies the value of the product or solution to the end customer in a tangible form. This could be revenue, ratings, inbound links or customer service KPIs. The important thing is that it is measurable and easy to reference back to the product or solution. Potential customers are also interested in installation details, lead time, pricing and the overall professionalism when they are assessing value for money.
  7. Endorse the product with a well-respected, relevant personality. This does not need to be a TV personality. It may be worth checking with your industry association to see who might be available to fill that role. Bring it into the discussion if you are considering an event sponsorship deal. Allow the person testing your services to share their experience in their own words, and always get permission before quoting them.
  8. Create a “pen picture”. This involves creating characters who have a scenario where the product can benefit them greatly.  This process helps to pin down a complex message and it’s particularly useful in explainer videos.
  9. Compare your product to the competition. In simple terms, show how your product or service outperforms the competition in terms of value. Use percentages to quantify this. The telecoms and energy sectors do this very well. Find an example you like.
  10. New product/feature announcement. Early innovators itch to handle new launches first. Speak directly to them – they are influencers. Allow their word of mouth, social media and blog posts to diffuse and amplify your message.
  11. Highlight a Guarantee. Guarantees build trust. There have been many business books written about the speed of trust. A sincere guarantee can remove inertia and mobilise a customer to take out their wallet.
  12. Show a strong offer with the price, a product image or images and where to buy. Don’t leave the customer in the dark. If the offer is compelling, don’t direct the customer to a list of distributors. Geotarget your message to make their journey as short as possible.
  13. Use the word Free in your content. This may involve highlighting special features and characteristics of your after sales process. Littlewood’s USP is Free Shipping. You get the total price upfront with no extra research needed. It sounds appealing and it saves the user time.

You can view an example of my copywriting in this case study.

If you would like to read examples of my copywriting, please get in touch.

The importance of communicating with stakeholders

Thejournal.ie recently covered an advertising campaign by Griffith College where 3 out of 4 outdoor advertising providers refused to put up the below billboard:



Apparently, it reflected badly on their employees.


Even photos of the final billboard clearly show that it’s a representation of an uneven job, rather than actual misaligned poster sheets.

Somebody, somewhere in the process took offence. It would have been much easier to manage the situation if the campaign had still been at the storyboard stage. As it happened, it had already eaten a significant portion of the 50K euro budget before the issue raised its head.

The learning is that we can’t control everything. However, it’s a good idea to engage stakeholders early in the process.

The sign-off process


It’s a bad idea to sign off anything after 6pm on a Friday evening – especially if it’s for print. The human brain is simply not working at full capacity at the end of a frazzled week.

Getting extra pairs of eyes for proofing can be helpful, but it’s not guaranteed to be foolproof.

If the item is a branded giveaway or signage of any kind, every nuance of the logo must be considered, from the space around it, to the font, to the particular colour shade.

See if you can guess which of these 2 logos is the correct one.



It’s actually the first one, but it has nothing to do with the coloured part of the graphic. The double “M” is deliberately joined up in the official version. It’s possible the second version was created by someone who needed the logo quickly but didn’t have time to contact the organisers for the original.

This week An Post (Irish Post Office) implemented a mailshot promo, but didn’t leave enough space for the Postcode (Eircode) on the entry form.

With experience, we learn the best way to avoid these small mistakes. Often the simplest solution is to negotiate a Monday morning deadline. It makes a huge difference.


What should I post on my Facebook page?


When blogging was still a very new phenomenon, blogger-turned-journalist Sarah Carey was asked to describe it. She wisely defined it as a pen and paper. Infinite possibilities.

Social media shares the same fluid definition. It’s easy to feel like a writer with a creative block. And yet there is significant pressure to use it as a revenue generating business tool.

Richard Branson uses Facebook to cover his public charity work, climate change and beating poverty activity. He uses Google Plus to cover his business leadership and service launches. He stays in touch there with a close circle of those connected to his brand.

That’s just one way to do it.
Another effective way to use social media is to show what inspires you.

A graphic designer might share pictures of visually striking and beautiful things that are not obvious to the average beholder. This proves she has a good eye for design. That’s a USP.

A recruitment agency might share a commentary on the latest trade union negotiations, even if it has nothing to do with their industry. This shows they closely follow and understand the subtle science of negotiating, and could probably get you a better salary than you could negotiate on your own.

So, with that in mind, here’s a marketing campaign that inspired me. Try watching this Herman Millern recruitment video and not visiting their website afterwards.



Video Production

Here are some videos I produced:

Custom Slideshows:

Graphic designer Emer Byrne kindly allowed me create a showcase for her high quality portfolio using a cheerful, compelling soundtrack.

Product and Service videos:

I produce videos for Irish companies in a variety of industries. This example includes my own voiceover and video editing.

This video aims to boost apartment bookings and includes a voiceover.


This video has generated hundreds of organic video views from within Youtube. I created it a long time ago as an amateur project. I have a special interest in using video for educating preschoolers.

Facebook Video Promotions:

This video promotion generated thousands of views at very low cost.


Audio Editing:

I also record voiceovers and edit the audio directly into an existing video with adjusted timings. In this example, the customer needed an Irish voice to replace the English accent voiceover originally used in the video.

  • Listen to my voice recordings here


In addition to marketing services, I also offer female Irish accent voiceovers for Explainer videos, phone systems, video narration and more. Here are examples of my work:

Explainer Videos

BT Young Scientist


Bumblebean App

Podcast introduction

I recently recorded an introduction to an exciting new podcast covering entrepreneurship with business leaders, startups and solopreneurs.

IVR recordings

Voice Acting



Project Management by Week and Best Before dates

Week numbers matter. There are 52 weeks in the year – that’s 13 x 4 weeks, and yet we only have 12 months.

The 3 days difference between February and March can mean loosing over half of a working week. It can slip by unnoticed, leading to last minute panic.

A simple solution is adding the week number to your Google Calendar.

On an iphone, visit Settings > Mail Contacts and Calendar. Scroll all the way down until you see this: 

An extra bonus is that you can check the best before dates in Aldi. They label their fruit and veg by week number + day of the week.

In the first example, 3503 means the 3rd day of the 35th week of the year – which commences August 29th – making the best before date August 31st.

You won’t be fooled any longer!