May I Have Your Attention Please

Book Review: May I Have Your Attention, Please? Your Guide to Business Writing That Charms, Captivates and Converts 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 the couple just ‘pulled it out of the air’.)

Mortified Cow’s 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 your writing dry and unappealing to your customers and clients.

Short, snappy and upbeat, its target audience is small business owners who’re suffering from Flat Copy Syndrome, and need help sounding more human and engaging. But if you’re a newbie copywriter, it has plenty of hints and tips for you too.

Even though May I Have Your Attention, Please? wants to stamp out 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 you and your brand stand for
  • is easy to understand
  • has individuality
  • shows your customers and clients why buying what you’re offering’s a no-brainer

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

And, as well as convincingly arguing the case for conversational language, Slade shows why you’d be 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 well-known 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. Waaay 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.

Click here to buy May I Have Your Attention, Please? Your Guide to Business Writing That Charms, Captivates and Converts

Dawn is an ace wordsmith with a background in arts journalism – writing features and book, food, film, TV, theatre and stand-up comedy reviews. She has also written speeches for politicians, and is a skilled business writer who’s drafted and edited content for the Scottish Government’s website.

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