On the 298th episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast, Avi Webb joins the show. Avi is a copywriter who specializes in naming businesses and offers (not an easy task). Is there a method to the madness? Avi spills his secrets to his research and creativity processes, and how you can tap into the naming market.
Check out the goods:
- Avi’s transition from creative writing to persuasive writing.
- Why is there a lack of emphasis on copy?
- Are there any advantages to design vs copy first?
- How design and copy are two separate languages and how to navigate both.
- The better way to work with designers, so each vision can come to life.
- What kind of communication needs to happen between designers and copywriters?
- How Avi became the name guy.
- Do you have to love everything about copy?
- How to find your unique, comfy, copywriting chair.
- Is there a method to charging for taglines and names and how are you supposed to communicate the value?
- Avi’s naming process – What happens before the verdict is decided?
- What mistakes do people make in the naming process?
- When should you use your name vs a business name?
- How to stay creative and continue to tap into your creativity.
- The key to developing your own unique perspective.
- Avi’s lead generation process for his signature naming offer.
Tune into the episode to learn how you can improve your own naming process.
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The people and stuff we mentioned on the show:
The Accelerator Waitlist
The Copywriter Think Tank
How Much Money Can an Author Expect to Make on Their Book? Blog
The Copywriter Club Facebook Group
The Copywriter Underground
Free month of Brain.FM
Don’t Call It That by Eli Altman
Rob Marsh: Have you ever been hired to name a product, or a service, or a business. Naming is one of the most fun kinds of projects that you can work on and also one of the most difficult, because so much depends on getting things right. Does the name you come up with describe the product or what it does? Is it desirable? Is it easy to say, or spell, or remember? Is the URL available? Is the trademark available? Is it too close to a name or a term that your competitor uses? Naming is hard. So we invited copywriter Avi Webb to join us for this episode of The Copywriter Club Podcast to talk about his process for naming and what we need to think about if we’re going to make naming a part of our business services.
Kira Hug: This episode of the podcast is sponsored by The Copywriter Accelerator. That is our program designed to give you the blueprint, structure, coaching, direction, and community you need to accelerate your business growth in four months. So you can go from feeling like an overwhelmed freelancer to a fully booked business owner. We’re actually opening this program, The Copywriter Accelerator, for new members next month. And if you have any interest at all, just jump on the waitlist to be the first to hear all the information about the program when we open it up in August. So to do that, just go to the show notes and check out the link for the wait list.
Rob Marsh: Or you can go to thecopywriteraccelerator.com. Now let’s jump into our interview with Avi and find out how he became a copywriter.
Avi Webb: How I ended up as a copywriter is, I don’t know, that interesting. About when I left school a friend of mine was involved with a children’s museum that was just rising in Brooklyn. Kira maybe you know the area on Eastern Parkway, the Jewish Children’s Museum in Crown Heights? And they were just opening then and looking for a creative team. He knew me from camp. I had been involved in writing plays and songs and sort of the creative writing kind of guy, and pulled me in to see if I could be helpful. “So, what do you do?” I said, “Writing.” I don’t know why exactly that time, but that really became the first time that I wrote to persuade. Although I couldn’t have put it in those few words at the time. They were looking for sales, content and collateral, they were looking for membership type stuff. And different from the things I had been doing, which was like I said, creative type of writing to be enjoyed. That was the first time that I got the importance of writing things to compel and to persuade. And so, from there, I sort of kept going.
Rob Marsh: So, you were doing creative writing, like stories, poetry, that kind of stuff before?
Avi Webb: Yeah, a little bit of poetry and plays and story and song lyric type things. Not professionally. This was kind of as a teenager and as a counselor, that type of thing. So it’s like someone asked me where my creative experience is. That’s what I reached for it. It wasn’t so intentional.
Rob Marsh: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. And then, as you started writing copy for this client, what did you do to figure all of this stuff out? Because obviously you hadn’t been thinking of yourself as a copywriter or even advertising yourself as a copywriter, you were just sort of helping out. How did you turn that corner and really turn yourself into a copywriter?
Avi Webb: Yeah, not only was I not calling myself, I didn’t know the term. Probably three or four years into being a copywriter I didn’t know what the job title was. They had very specific needs, which sort of worked the backward way of some clients where they’re like, “I need something to, just write something.” And then the copywriter needs to say, “Well, what do you need to do?” And sort of dig into all those things. At that point, they were a brand new museum, and they were looking for somebody to write collateral that was going to get people in the door. So it was a pretty straightforward first assignment. Like a tri-fold brochure that was going to be left around different parts of New York, sent around to the public school system, just various things like that. They had a very clear goal and a very clear need.
So, asking questions of those people, then I guess intuitively, I started to ask what people that were going to be reading this wanted to know and what would compel them to join it. But I didn’t have a very clear process or understanding of where to be looking for those things.
Kira Hug: So, let’s say I start my own museum, which would be pretty fun. What would you recommend for me if I want to attract people, and get people in the door? Based on your experience, what worked?
Avi Webb: I think you probably have a good sense of where I would go with that answer. Really, really every single experience and every type of potential visitor and every time is going to have a different message and different way to go about that. In this case I had mentioned that I was involved with the Jewish Children’s Museum. There’s a backstory to that, some list of very familiar, that there was a Jewish student who was killed on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994 for being Jewish. There was a gunman who pulled up alongside a van load of Yeshiva students and opened fire on them, and Harry Halverson was killed then, and his mother was the one who spearheaded this museum to teach. Really a big motivation of hers I think was to teach the public school system or to just engage the public school system with the Jewish community in New York to sort of create this familiarity, and in that way get people to understand each other a little bit better.
So, a big goal for them was to speak to public school students who weren’t necessarily driven to understand the nuances of Jewish culture. So it was just kind of to engage with culture that is different from themselves. I guess my long-winded answer to you is how I would go about pushing your eventual museum is to understand the motivation of why you built it. What people might be interested about it. Individuals, groups of people who might be interested in coming toward it. And finding how to create a compelling and concise message to get them interested.
Rob Marsh: I want to curate the museum of Kira. All the stuff that goes in. Like the cheerleading outfit and the old retainer that she would have had.
Kira Hug: I got rejected from cheerleading. There’s no cheerleading outfit.
Avi Webb: Yeah. I’m not that surprised here that you reach for that particular example, because I think there’s a lot that you can probably put into a museum of Kira.
Rob Marsh: All the costumes. This is a future project for us, I think.
Kira Hug: Yes, another project.
Rob Marsh: We might need some help with…
Kira Hug: Another project.
Rob Marsh: So Avi, so as you were working then with the museum and sort of figuring out the copywriter stuff, how did you go from that to now finding additional clients or the next job? Build that career ladder for us.
Avi Webb: So, the bulk of my copywriting career happened right after that, in that I created a role in that museum called staff writer. And it was sort of PR plus marketing and a mix of it all. And at the point that that, I felt I had grown out of that or maybe they felt I had grown out, I don’t remember exactly. There was a boutique agency here in Brooklyn as well that was looking more specifically for a copywriter. They were really design-heavy, but they knew they needed somebody who can create the actual strategic language for what they were doing. And so that’s where I took my next job. And I was there for about nine years as kind of the Jack of all copy. I did really all print ads and packaging copy and shipping email receipts. And just really anything that our clients came to us with that was related to language came onto my plate. And so I cut my teeth on that and really enjoyed it.
Kira Hug: So can I get a timeline here? Because I need to just put all of this into context. What years were you working at this agency? And then when did you start to open up and take additional clients and really start your own business?
Avi Webb: I think I went in-house around 2007 or ’08. It was before the recession, but not long before. And then I went solo about 2017, ’16, ’17.
Kira Hug: Okay, all right. So what happened around 2016, 2017? What inspired you to jump and go out on your own?
Avi Webb: My wife primarily. I had been working there, and it was a great team, and I’m still close with them. We had a great team going there. I mentioned that they were very design-centric, and I felt that there was always going to be a design-first focus. So, when projects came in that could use a copywriter, I had a lot to do, and I had a lot to say about it, but it wasn’t a real reliable flow of projects that really needed the skills that I was beginning to really dig into and develop.
And there wasn’t a ton of growth there. So, it just was time I think to step out and see if we could turn this into something bigger. And on the one hand, from just the money side of it, do something that I could make more off of. But also have more of a say in the types of research and questions I was asking and goals that we were reaching for and copy we were creating. I had found essentially in that job that I was getting so much about, the client wants a six part print ad to do X, Y, and Z. And we’d start digging into the questions with the client that says, “Why are you even pushing that message? And why to this community of people? And why in this publication?”
And what I would find is that they’re really often starting the marketing part of this, of their investment long past where they can be getting a lot of people interested, which is kind of how I went off to start my own business. And also to focus specifically on that, what I would call the first encounter messaging. When someone just sees your truck driving down the road or hears about you from a friend who refers you, not as Global Solutions LLC, but as something that really is a headline to a story. Around that time a lot of these things happened at the same juncture. So I went off to start my own thing and did it in a way that could focus on this particular aspect of the copy.
Rob Marsh: So before we go deeper into the kind of work that you do today, Avi, I’m curious; with that design experience, and you mentioned the projects were design-first, as opposed to copy-first. Do you think that there are any advantages at all of starting with design versus copy? I would just love your thoughts about the juxtaposition there. Because so many of us work with agencies or designers and they obviously are starting with the design. I tend to push back against that, but I’m wondering, and maybe there are some advantages that I haven’t seen.
Avi Webb: That’s a really, really interesting question. I don’t know if it’s an advantage to start with design. I absolutely appreciate all I learned in a design firm, and really apply a certain layout to my copy as well. And working with designers, I talk with them all the time that I don’t want to see 50% copy and 50% design, and then call it 100%. It’s like 75% of the copy and then 75% of visual communication, and together you’ve created something. So you’re creating two different languages. Some people are visual learners; some people are word readers. And you’re communicating on two levels. So, knowing that what you’re writing needs to be designed, and starting from that place, I think is invaluable. It’s really, really important, I think, for us as copywriters to think it through to the end. Not necessarily what it’s going to look like, but it needs to look like something.
And so if you’re writing a website or you’re writing product packaging that’s going to have a fold somewhere and you’re like, “Well, I want these massive letters to say whatever.” If that’s not going to work in practical design because of how packaging is created or because of how websites are clicked on or whatever’s going to happen, we need to be conscious of that. Now I don’t see really how it could start with design, in most cases.
Kira Hug: I was recently working on a project, and of course, I loved the copy that I was handing to the client, it was for a website, and I had wire framed it with a rough wireframe, handed it to the designer. The designer just didn’t know how to handle the copy at all. It was almost like they’d never seen copy and didn’t know how to lay it out on the page, which can happen. How would you recommend copywriters work with designers? And we’re not necessarily working in a larger agency. We’re freelancers working with other freelancers so that we have a smooth transition. It’s more collaborative. The designer understands how to treat the copy, even if they are less experienced so that we have a better final product.
Avi Webb: I think this goes back a little bit to understanding what their experience might be before jumping into it. And this is something I do with clients as well. It’s a really simple question that I added to my form some time ago that is very helpful. And that is, “Have you ever worked with a copywriter before?” And what that does, or what I’ve seen it do, is first of all, trigger a thought on the part of the client or the other creative, if it’s a designer or something. There’s an aspect here, there’s a learning curve here that I might not already have. And so just creating that conversation, not, “Here’s what you need to do, or here’s what people get wrong. And I want you to do it correctly.” Just understanding, have you done this? Have you worked in this dynamic before? So that if the answer is no, it leads automatically to the thought of, “Okay, I do want to ask questions. I do want to figure it out, I do want to understand and leave space that it’s not just my process, there’s also a copywriter and a client and all of that.”
So just starting with their familiarity. And there’s nothing wrong with saying no. It’s just a question of where we need to talk about this. And working with a client as well to find out who they intend to design with. And does that designer have the particular experience that we’re going to need for this project? And if not, would you be open to another recommendation, or would you understand that at the very least that we can’t control the ultimate outcome. We did the best we could. So those are some areas I would do it.
And then in my own process, I do provide a transition once I deliver a copy to talk directly to the client and the designer together to be sure that we’re speaking the same language. Because it’s obviously in all of our best interests to know that the copy we’re writing and that the client has engaged us for, gets to the world and the way that we understand that it can do well.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I like that your career has started out like this. Mine started similarly. I think there’s almost an advantage in having to work with designers and other team members early on that forces you to start thinking about, “Okay, how is my copy going to integrate with what they’re doing? How do I bring in this person’s perspective so that it’s not all on us?” Which, sometimes, I revert to that now. Because I’m here alone, I’m working on the copy. The copy is the most important thing, at least in my opinion, and I hope the client’s opinion. But I admire that. And I think that’s maybe a smart starting point for a lot of copywriters. And it’s not really my question, I think; I’m just following up. But having said that, let’s talk about what you’re doing today, Avi, the kinds of projects that you tend to work on, the kinds of clients that you work on, what does that look like?
Avi Webb: Now when clients reach out to me, I have made a little bit of a name for myself as the name guy. I specialize in brand name development and messaging roadmaps that come from that. And my first question to people who reach out to me is, “What scaling roadblock are you running into that you can attribute to messaging?” And what that looks like is very often to a company that might have some success, a million to $5 million in revenue, five, 10 employees, and they’re doing very well regionally. They’ve got a lot of first circle clients and then second circle referrals, direct referrals. They’re going to networking events, et cetera. But they’re starting to see that when they show up to those third circle, flying to a networking event or industry conference of some kind, it becomes very difficult for them to communicate in a really short and punchy way why they’re worth stopping and listening to.
And when companies reach that sort of point, they’ll realize that “If we had just a really clear sense in our own heads and our team as our team is growing, something that we could hand that growing team to understand what we’re trying to communicate here. If we had that in hand, we could really scale and sail in a way that we’re not able to right now.”
Kira Hug: Yeah, I feel like we skipped over, you’re the name guy. And how did you become the name guy? Because it sounds like you just figured it out one day and that’s your specialty. I know how brilliant you are at that, because I’ve seen some of your work, and we know positioning is hard for copywriters. It’s hard to figure out what your specialty is, even though we help our clients do this all the time. So I’m just curious how you ended up really stepping into that specialty and owning that specialty and feeling confident in it?
Avi Webb: So I’m going to cheat here and say you could check out my LinkedIn post from today. If anyone’s listening to this, this is June 2nd because I just posted about this specific thing. And because it was a LinkedIn post, it was skill, thrill, and bill. That was the Venn diagram that I kind of used to find my specialty, and that I recommend others to use. And what that means is, that skill is something that I find speaking to a lot of other copywriters; they are really intimidated by having to compact a full message or even the beginning of a message into one or two words. To me, I have found that to be really where I shine. So the one-liners and slogans and a turn of phrase that really just gets a smile or gets someone thinking or an aha of some kind, that’s somewhere that I’ve found myself to do well with. Whereas others are much more into communicating over the course of 5,000 words.
Conversely, I have a really tough time with long-form copy and get bored by it easily. And I just, it’s not really where I love to be. So the first part was the skill. Not just being able to do it, but then digging into that and seeing how I could turn that into a reliable process and product. The second part is the thrill as sort of the other side of that same coin is that I just really, really enjoy that. Being able to get a laugh out of somebody or a smile or interest in hearing more with a really quick line is thrilling. It’s amazing. And then the third part is, was there a market for it? Will people pay for two words? Which is what many people think a name is. Obviously, the process itself is all, the strategy going into it and then the name and if there’s a slogan and then all the copy and roadmap that comes out of it. But essentially, when people think of a name just as a name, it’s just a couple of words.
So how will people value that? So figuring out how to turn that into a product that specific types of businesses are looking for and value highly was eventually how I felt much more comfortable saying, “This is what I do, and this is what I’m focused on.”
Rob Marsh: So yeah, I know we’ve got a ton of questions about naming, coming up with names, all that stuff. But while we’re talking about value, one of the challenges that I’ve seen copywriters have when we’re hired to write a slogan or come up with a name, is that because the deliverable is only a couple of words, oftentimes we feel like we can’t charge several thousand dollars for it, even though the process of coming up with a really good strap line or a tagline could take weeks. Or coming up with a name could take literally hundreds of hours. And so I’m curious how you’ve crossed that divide. How do you get your clients to understand the value of a name or a tagline? How do you just have that conversation with them?
Avi Webb: There are three things I think that come to mind when you ask that. The first one is, that not everybody will, and that’s okay. And I say that sometimes on calls, “What? You would charge X, Y,” well, I try not to even get on the call if I get a sense that that’s where they’re going. Somebody literally said to me last week on LinkedIn, can you … I could even pull this off and read it verbatim. “Can you come up with a name in 20 minutes?” And we had a very interesting back and forth and ended up booking a call.
Kira Hug: Oh, geez.
Avi Webb: But oh, he started with, “How long does it take to come up with the name?” So I said, “15 years and four weeks.” And he, of course, thought I was joking. And he was like, “What are you talking about? Can you do it in 20 minutes?” I said, “There’s no straight answer to that, but I was just answering you that with the 15 years of messaging experience I have behind me, I could probably come up with yours in about four weeks.” He didn’t appreciate that. But I know I had mentioned there are three things that came to mind. Number one is, that not everybody’s going to be the right candidate to value it, and that’s okay.
I’ll say to people, this is a little bit of a tangent, but I think this is an important piece. When we’re dealing with people valuing our products, often I have found that people feel bad about themselves for not knowing the value. And so it gets into this weird conversation where “Why do you charge so much?” And now they’re accusing you of charging too much, where really it’s about like, “I’m not the idiot here, right? I should have known that this is worth that.”
So I like to frame these conversations generally to say, “I understand if this is not the right value for your project. Not every project is.” And in this way just takes some of the sting away from the client or the prospect. “It’s not your fault that I charge what I charge for something that people will value at that value. It’s just not the right thing.” But the second piece I think is that there are companies that understand this very, very well. Founders, others who have started businesses before, Fortune 500 companies. They spend a ton on getting it right. I mean, if you have a retail product that needs to sell in a row of 30 other similar products, they understand the value of positioning this correctly with a single word and slogan. So you have people that know this as well.
And the third piece is, that once people are past the point of asking for a name, I do pretty deliberately talk about the product in much more detail and scope. And so when I’m on an intake call and people are, “Okay, so you talk to me about having this name, and then you’ll come with dah, dah, dah. So how much does it cost?” I’ll say, “Well,” and then I’ll repeat the steps of the process to go through the project that you’re talking about, understand your industry a little bit better, speak to some of your customers or those that are, others in the business. And then come up with five, up to five potential names. Each one will have been vetted, I’m not going to bore you with each of the details, but I’ll just make it into the project that it is, and then drop the number. So there’s a really, a good sense by the time that conversation has had that you’re not paying for two words. That’s really important.
Kira Hug: Can you talk about how you’ve packaged this in your business? Because there could be some copywriters who are interested in getting into this space and starting to sell similar packages. What are some of the packages you’ve created around naming?
Avi Webb: My, I would say flagship package is the research and recommendations. I recommend up to five names, not five names. There’s reasons I would do more than one or reasons that I wouldn’t, that can get you to market with reasonable, I would say with full, I would aim for, but I’m not a trademark lawyer. There are a lot of variables that are beyond our control, but with the reasonable confidence that this can do well within the market that you’re moving this product or service or company into. So, that’s kind of the general project. And then for those not looking for that kind of thing, because they have a specific sort of a messaging barrier, or they’re looking for some clarity in another way that’s not going to result in an absolute product like, “This is what I’m going to call my product.”
I do more of a consultation where I’ll sell a full-day intensive or half-day intensive or a brand therapy hour. And those are more likely to show up on a certain day. We’re going to take the challenges that you have in a specific whatever you’re dealing with. We’ll start at the beginning of the day, prioritize it, and brain smash, copy, or solutions or messaging smooth things whatever we can do over the course of that time. So I found that those two extremes help most of my customers and clients to have some sort of solution. Either get the product or get the consultation and brain and come out clear on the other side.
Rob Marsh: And Avi, when you’re doing a naming project, do you do things like URL searches or trademark searches or any of the legal background, or is it just straightforward, “I’m going to give you a bunch of names,” and the rest of the figuring out how to make it work is on the client.
Avi Webb: No, absolutely, I give it as complete as I can. And one of the things that I’ve found from working with other service providers, attorneys, accountants, one of the most frustrating things is: I don’t know what I don’t know. So if you hand me my 1040 or whatever from my taxes and say, “Here, go take it somewhere.” I don’t even know if I have the right documentation. I have no idea where to send it or file it. So, I do try to give as complete a picture of what you’re going to need to do with a name like this, with a brand direction. And I do as much as I can of the legwork to clear that you’re going to have a sensible URL, social names. And as much as I can do as a non-attorney, to say with 95 or 99% confidence, this should clear trademarking. If I couldn’t do that, I wouldn’t recommend a name in most cases.
Kira Hug: All right. So beyond the fact that I’m so excited that Avi started his career in Brooklyn, what stood out to you, Rob, as you were listening to this part of the conversation?
Rob Marsh: Yeah. So there’s a bunch of stuff that I like and that I was glad that Avi mentioned. I like the discussion about design first or copy first. It’s always attention when you’re working with a team. And as I mentioned, I started my career working in-house with a bunch of designers. Then I worked at an agency with a bunch of designers. And at one point, I had a whole creative team working together. And I think there’s a tension that when we’re working on our own, as we kind of mentioned during the interview, that we don’t get, we don’t always think through the design side, or how is this going to present, or should there be sidebars, different elements and how that all plays together. Sometimes we just throw it all onto the page and we trust the designer’s going to understand it. And I’ve had that experience before where the designer absolutely does not understand it. The design is a disaster for communication.
Yeah, it looks really nice, but none of the messaging comes through. So, I thought Avi’s approach to that and noted that it’s not always copy first. It’s probably also not designed first. But oftentimes we need to speak both of those languages and work together in order to make the work that we create work. I just, I appreciate that.
Kira Hug: Yeah, and I think there’s a lot we could do as copywriters to strengthen the relationship between the copy and the design. I shared in that conversation with Avi a recent project that wasn’t going well as far as the final design and the implementation of the design. And when I look back, there are things I could have done to help that project be even more successful for my client. I could have asked for information about the designer from day one when I started the project to have a conversation with the designer early on and just touch base. I’ve done that on previous projects, but I just kind of left it out this time. And I think anytime as copywriters we can connect with the designer we’re going to end up working with, or at least our clients working with it just cuts out some of that tension from the beginning and helps everyone really show up on the same page, from day one of the project. And so, that’s something that I need to do moving forward with any projects that will involve another designer.
Rob Marsh: And that communication is really important. The project that I mentioned was a disaster, the designer was a label, a packaging designer. And I had written a sales page. He designed the sales page to look like a label for this lotion, this really killer lotion, that it was a great product, but again, it just calls for a different kind of design. And so sometimes that communication’s just really important, making sure that the client knows the difference between how to communicate on, say a package versus a sales page. All of that stuff that we know. Sometimes a client doesn’t know, the designer may not know, and that communication is just critical.
Kira Hug: And it’s also worth noting when something goes wrong on a project, or even when it doesn’t go wrong, you can be the point person for your client. So even you can continue to provide support. Even if you’re not a designer, you still are in charge of making sure that the copy shows up in the best light, that the copy converts, and that it’s working. And so, I would recommend staying involved in the project until the very end, so that you can add your opinion and feedback on the design as the project moves forward. And that’s something that clients will appreciate if you’re not already doing it, just to say, “I’m with you until the end, I will offer that feedback and send you video reviews of the final design, even after I’ve handed in all the copy.” That can go a long way, and I know clients appreciate that.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, another thing that I really liked is Avi’s kind of phrase, the skill, thrill, and bill. I thought that was just kind of a fun way to think about what we do. Skill, do you actually have the ability to write as a copywriter, or if you’re applying this to something else, the ability to do the thing that you say you can do. Do you enjoy it? Do you get the thrill from doing the work? And bill, can you actually make money? It’s a useful way of thinking about that. I think that applies to how we choose our niches, or how do we identify the problems that we can solve for our clients? So again, just kind of a cool kind of phrase and shows why Avi’s so good at naming. But skill, thrill, and bill is a nice way of thinking about that.
Kira Hug: Yeah, why am I not surprised that skill, thrill and bill is so catchy with Avi as a naming expert. We also talked about really finding the value and helping identify the value in packages like these naming packages. But a lot of obvious advice can apply to any of our copywriting or marketing packages that we’re trying to sell. And really speaking to the value, because we will have those prospects who are like, “Hey, can you just come up with a name in 20 minutes for me and bill me for your time? And so I could just pay for 20 minutes.” And I love Avi’s response where he said, “It took 15 years and four weeks to come up with the name for that product.”
And so that’s just such a great reminder for us as copywriters, even if we’re not focused on naming. When we’re handing over deliverables to our clients, it’s definitely not about the time. And it is about the value and the value you’ll provide with that asset over the next few years or beyond. But it’s also about the decades of experience you bring to the table. Sometimes it’s also life experience. It’s the professional experiences, it’s your X factor and the expertise in all of that is rolled up into that final product too.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, it reminds me of that story that people tell; it’s probably apocryphal about Picasso being asked to do a drawing in a couple of minutes. And then asking for a million dollars for the drawing. And the person balks. And of course, Picasso says something similar. It’s like, “Hey, it took me my entire career to be able to draw that drawing.” And the value that we bring to the table isn’t time, it’s never the time that we spend doing something. And a name or a tagline that may last a company for decades has an amazing value. Companies that do naming and come up with strap lines and taglines, they literally charge tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars for that work. Even though the end result is one word, or four words in a tagline, or whatever. Because the work to get there to make sure that it’s differentiated, that it reflects the brand, all of that is work and it takes far more than 20 minutes, or even in most cases, two or three weeks to really get it right.
Kira Hug: Yes. And I want to go back to the beginning of the conversation where we talked about his initial experience at the museum, working at the museum, and trying to get people in the door. And that was his objective. And creating copy to do that. And I think it’s such a great reminder that what we do as communication experts and copywriters is quite simple. The outcome, our client’s desire is really simple. It’s like, get people in the door. Get people to say, yes. Get people to open this. And sometimes I know I can overcomplicate it, and think about the funnels and all the bells and whistles when it’s really just solving a problem for people. It’s just getting them in the door, getting their attention, and it can be as simple as that. We don’t have to overcomplicate it.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I think this is one of the first mindset things that we talked about in the Copywriter Accelerator is just, that you are not there to write words to make the words sound great; you are there to solve problems. And once you make that shift in your business, it really opens up so many possibilities of ways that you can work with clients, even beyond copywriting.
Kira Hug: Yeah, and you could even give yourself a title that speaks to that problem that you’re solving, and rather than calling yourself a copywriter, or maybe you call yourself a copywriter and then you give yourself a secondary title that you lead with that speaks to the problem that you solve. And I know we’ve talked about Robe Skrob many times in the podcast in his interview, but he calls himself a membership retention expert because that’s what he does. He helps his clients retain their members. And so is there another title that you could give yourself that could really speak to the problem you’re solving so that immediately a prospect gets it and knows if you can help them or not?
Rob Marsh: Yep, I agree.
Kira Hug: All right, well, let’s get back to our interview with Avi and hear his process for naming offers. I know we have a ton of questions about naming. But I would like to look under the hood of your business and have you talk through your process in some detail, just so we can understand how much work goes into this. And like you said, it’s not something you can do in 20 minutes. There’s a lot of attention to detail and research that goes into it.
Avi Webb: There is. The biggest piece of it to begin with, and this is before even taking on a project. I know there’s a lot of variables among us copywriters. How much do you want to know before you actually have a client sign-on. To me, I always want in the first intake question to have a really clear sense of what this client will articulate to be their number one need from me. So, I talked earlier about two different packages. One of the ways that I will send somebody to more of a consultation is when they come even asking for a name, if I don’t have a really great sense that’s going to solve what their current roadblock is or what their five or 10-year roadblock is, I’ll recommend, “Maybe it’s a better idea to sit on some of these questions for a few hours and help work through them that way. And then in six months’ time or a year’s time, if you’re still chasing this particular product, maybe that would be the right time to actually name it.”
So really understanding upfront what they’re going to get out of this deliverable is, to me, the most important thing. The next section, the next piece is I send the questionnaire that’s a little more formal that formalizes these questions in a little more detail to ask them how they perceive the market solving the solution that they are proposing. Or they’re already providing in many cases. And what this does is not only give me the answers. But it’s also, I find it very helpful to understand from my client their self-perception. Because it’s important when I’m communicating solutions in messaging down the line, to be careful to address not only what I see as the right language, but what they might not value at the same point.
So in that process, I want to come back to them and say, “I see you noticed, you mentioned that nobody else is addressing X, Y, or Z. Or company A is your biggest competition. I wonder, are people looking for the solution in a different place in company B or C or in an industry that’s completely different?” So fleshing out their self-understanding is probably the next piece. Then I go to sort of a quiet zone for a little while where I go into competitive research, looking if there’s competition already, competitive products and services. Looking at how they present themselves, looking at how their reviews tend to go, speaking to customers of my client to see if there’s a thread that goes through all of their reports. This is also a big blind spot I think a lot of us have, speaking to clients. And similar to the self-perception idea is, are their customers experiencing, even happy customers, are they happy for the reasons that we think they are?
So sometimes speaking to, and I think you guys, for sure, and many of the people listening to this have the same process, speaking to many of their customers and seeing is there a thread that runs through this that was not obvious to the client that we can sort of pull out? And then there’s the more technical side is knowing what sort of vibe, association, feeling we want to be giving with this kind of name. Every industry and every need is going to; you want to dig in a different place for it. If you’re a fashion line going to be experienced by people walking into Nordstrom who are in this sort of slow sense of touching and feeling and checking it out. You might be able to do something that’s more abstract and heritage-based. If you’re a SaaS that’s zooming past your client in the opposite direction on the highway, and you have like 0.0 seconds to scream something out the window, you want selling much more impactful, something much more communicative.
Avi Webb: So a lot of those, the technical things, what does it need to do? And then there’s the development of the actual name. Looking for inspiration and digging in various places to pull up the right associations and the right words and name storming, all these different places we could go with it. And then presenting it to the client hopefully for a huge thumbs up. And then I guess the next part is being there as much as I can for that little bit afterward to transition it, to design and seeing it into the world.
Rob Marsh: So that seems like a really in-depth process and a good one. I’m wondering if you can make it real and tell us about a project that you’ve worked on, maybe some of the ideas that you had and the name that you ended up with at the end, if that’s something that you could talk through?
Avi Webb: Whew, a real-life idea. Yeah. I think one that comes to mind was a company that specializes in reverse logistics. And I know most consumers use reverse logistics. Most probably don’t know that they do. And in really short, what that is, is most products come from the manufacturer to a wholesaler, to a retailer, to the consumer. The second the consumer opens that box, it can no longer be sold as new. So, that entire process exists in reverse. And it goes back to a retailer, or a wholesaler, or a refurbisher, a third party seller, whatever it might be, but it’s an actual industry that is complete. And when you go on most refurbishing, electronics, secondhand sites and those kinds of things. Those are part of the reverse logistics things.
So one company that I think actually was called Global Solutions LLC, or something like that had a really hard time getting in the door with some of the higher-end companies they wanted to work with. So, if they were sort of downstream electronics they’ll, “Yeah, I’ll sell a lot to you. You can sell it on eBay, do what you’ll do with it.” But when they wanted to work with Apple or Dyson or some of these companies that are very particular and intentional about their brands, they weren’t getting in the door. Because, “Global Solutions, what are you going to do with my products? Where are you going to sell them? What are you going to do with them?”
So we really, there was a lot of competitive research to do in there. And what we landed on and the name I eventually recommended was Back in the Box. And you can find them backinthebox.com. What they really did. It was an amazing experience to feel within like 24 hours of recommending it. And before they even gave me the full approval, they started using it in some of their cold calls and started to see results from those who just heard a little earworm that said, “These people are doing something with fewer hands in the process.” Maybe they intuited. I mean, I don’t want to go too deeply into the psychology and assume that everyone that hears something understands your whole brand story, but the associations of get out of the box, put it back in the box, the associations with Jack in the Box, some of these like feelings that just say, “We have a specific process, we have a very streamlined way of doing things,” got them into doors immediately. And it was very, very gratifying to see that happen.
Kira Hug: Okay. So Avi, for someone who’s listening, again, I mean, I’m really interested in naming; in these types of packages and processes. So let’s say I want to try it and test it for the first time, and I’ve had some other experiences as a copywriter, so I feel like I’m equipped to at least try it. What are some mistakes I should watch out for?
Avi Webb: In the technical sense, or in the business sense, or both?
Kira Hug: Specifically with the naming process, if I’m offering that for the first time. In any sense, any mistakes maybe that you’ve experienced or that you’ve seen other copywriters make, or that you’ve heard about from your clients who maybe had a bad experience? Anything I should just be aware of before I jump into my first naming project?
Avi Webb: Probably the biggest challenge people have with naming is not knowing where to dig or spending too much time and energy and frustration and hair-pulling in places that are non-starters. So I think both from those who don’t do this professionally and those who do not have a sense of what general associations we want this to communicate can really send you just all over the map and be very, very frustrated.
Rob Marsh: One question that I have, Avi is something that comes up a lot when we’re talking with copywriters, and that is, when should you use your own name in business? And when should you build a business name? I’m curious about your thoughts on that?
Avi Webb: It’s different if you’re building a business outside of yourself, or if you are the business, that’s the biggest differentiator. And if you’re an individual creative who’s writing copy or a photographer, I’ll start there because I think a lot of the listeners probably fall into that category. Unless and until you have come up with a communicable process that’s different from what others are doing, I would say, use your own name. I think in our industry, there’s people like Joel Klettke’s Case Study Buddy. Or you guys, Copywriter Club. I heard you talking on a previous podcast about it wasn’t the most exciting name, but it communicated something different from receiving copy; rather you’re joining a club. So this kind of thing, unless you’re creating something that needs to be communicated differently because it is a different thing, that would be a time to name it. Before then, it really serves you when you’re an individual creator and provider to build your own reputation on your own name.
Another time that would be different is if your reputation or your personality is like so out there. And I think of Talking Shrimp. Laura Belgray, some people may be familiar with her. I mean, she took a personality that’s really different and not like, happy copy or something. That’s just a little bit of a term phrase on the product itself. So as far as an individual creative, I would say, build your own reputation on your own name, unless and until you’ve done something different, that needs to be branded. For a product or a company or store or something like that, I would go the complete opposite direction. And I would always recommend a way from a personal name or a family name. The reason is, similar to how we do from a financial place we’ll incorporate or build an LLC so that your own finances are not affected by whatever’s going on in your business.
In the other direction, you don’t want your own business to be impacted by whatever’s going on with your name. And that could be because someone with the same last name gets into the news, or it could be because you built equity that you want to sell eventually, but nobody sees great value in starting, taking the business further on someone else’s last name. There’s just so, so many things. The other could be partners that split, and one of them that can go wrong with naming a business after your own name that I think is not the right direction for most businesses.
Kira Hug: So let’s say you present your name recommendations to your client, and you’ve done all the work to get there. What do you do if they just don’t land? And you feel like they’re perfect, but your client is not in love with them. How do you move forward? Do you factor that into the pricing, the original pricing so that you have extra bandwidth to continue working on it?
Avi Webb: So the first thing I do is I turn off the zoom and I put my head in my hands and cry for a few minutes. But I do try, and thankfully I’m very grateful that over the years, it’s gotten less of a chance of hitting it completely, completely off the mark. I’ll get a no, and I’m fine with that. What scares me most is coming back with a name, or any copy really where the client says, “You completely missed the mark, where this is a different company. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” So, a lot of that comes from doing the legwork upfront to really, really understand what we’re looking to communicate so that that doesn’t happen. If a client doesn’t like the particular name that I’m recommending, we try to find out why. Did it hit the marks, but it’s a personal association that they just can’t get around? I’m not going to sell someone overly on something that they just don’t want to represent them.
So, there is an element of feeling comfortable that this is the headline that represents my brand story. But as long as we’ve done the legwork upfront to find out what this needs to communicate, we’ve seen pretty good success with approval to say, either we got it, or some variation of that name within a short time should hit.
Rob Marsh: So, Avi, one thing that I think a lot of people struggle with when it comes to names is that with marketing being this discipline that’s been around for more than a 100 years and product development and all this, a lot of people start saying things like, “All the names are gone.” And we start seeing weird combinations of words. Medications are named weird things. Or services are deliberately misspelled in order to make them original. What do you think about that kind of stuff is effective?
Avi Webb: It can be, I always like to look at the why, not the what. And medications are a good example of that. You have the wonkiest names out there. For a very specific reason, and part of the reason is the one you just mentioned that they’re running out of names. Now that’s especially relevant to medications because there’s a ton of regulation around medication specifically to prevent a doctor from miss prescribing something. If something has even the smallest chance of being confused with another one, that’s a really, really big health problem for the individual, as well as a liability problem for the provider. So they’re really, really strict. And that’s the reason you see tons of Z’s and X’s and Y’s and five-syllable names. They don’t care if you can’t pronounce it; as long as a doctor’s not going to get it wrong, that’s their number one thing they want to go for.
But just a word smash kind of word, a portmanteau or something like that could be very effective. I think one of the names that I like a lot is Fabletics. It’s very basic. They came into the market with two sorts of areas that don’t necessarily work that well together. Being fabulous and athletics, and that was their solution. And so pushing those two words together have a nice flow. Communicates really nicely, and it works. If you tried to do the same thing with two words that just don’t tell you anything new, or the combination doesn’t create anything, then it’s not a good solution. So I think it’s less about the trend, less about the particular formula and format for the name and more of why you chose that one and what the resulting name is and what it does.
Kira Hug: Are there more formulas? So that one’s the smash, word smash, which makes sense. But are there, maybe it’s like, okay, then you can also play around with alliteration. Are there a couple go-to techniques that work for you when you’re working through your process?
Avi Webb: Yeah, there are. And I also informed a little bit by the particular brand and the need, but one that I like a lot is old words and the new use. So something like the word life jacket is something that we’re all familiar with. Is a boring word, but there’s a sign called life jacket beer. When you put that word on a beer, it’s not something I named. I just came across it recently and jotted it down because I like it. Life jacket beer. There’s nothing interesting about either of those words, except that you use them in a new way. Extracting an element of something you see a lot. Where if someone has a shoe shop, they’ll call it lace or something. I guess that’s weird. That could be weird also, but people extract a particular ingredient.
So that could be done well, or it could be done poorly. There’s a pizza shop local to me that’s called Basil Pizza and Wine Bar, which I think did it really, really well, because basil does not have to be in every pizza, unless it’s a little bit upscale. So they sort of indicated with their name that this is a little bit different from your average pie’s place. So, there’s this and that, which can be used to great effect or to boring effect. There are certain formulas that I do look through as well. Yeah.
Rob Marsh: You mentioned Fabletics being one of your favorite names. I’m curious about other favorites. One of mine is Blackberry. I think the name Blackberry is brilliant for maybe three or four different reasons. The fact that the thing actually looks a bit like a Blackberry, it’s small, it’s black, the little buttons look like seeds. It’s kind of a cute name for something that’s technical. So it makes it more approachable, especially if Blackberries were around before smartphones and cell phones were just becoming accepted. So I’m curious, as you’ve looked at the world of names, what are some others that you’re just like, “Wow, that is a fantastic name. I kind of wish I’d come up with it myself.”
Avi Webb: Well, I’ll say on Blackberry. Yeah, there was, that got a lot of coverage. I think David Placek named it, and he did a lot of press on it because it was such a great example of how you use the tactile part of the product and the newness of it really to name something that would not belong on a piece of technology. It’s a word everyone’s familiar with, a Blackberry, but it is very new for that scenario. Names around… I tend to appreciate simple names that communicate something specific to the right people. So I like Whole Foods as well. At the time that it was created, it was kind of a boring name, but it wasn’t a very popular way to sell food. And we were going through decades of Americans buying ready-to-eat and fast food and all that. And when they came on the scene, Whole Foods, that’s a good way to go about that. I’m sure there’s a ton that will come to mind if I’m not pushing myself to think of it, but right now.
Rob Marsh: Right. Of course, yeah. As soon as we end recording, you’ll be like, “Oh, I should have mentioned this name, that name.”
Avi Webb: I mean, I come across names all the time that I really appreciate. And I’m just not thinking of any right now, and maybe not jotted down, but.
Kira Hug: How do you stay creative? What are some of your creative practices to keep you kind of sharp, and just tapping into that creativity as needed?
Avi Webb: A lot of prayer, a lot of closing my eyes and asking, “Please, feed me the right answers.” And I’m not really joking. I mean, it is something that in a way there is a lot of creativity in what we do as copywriters. There’s also the need to remember that we’re business people and we’re providing a business service. So, there isn’t really an excuse to say, “I wasn’t creative today, so I guess I’ll try this again next month.” You could do that as an artist, not necessarily as a commissioned artist, but even as a commissioned artist, you could say, “You know how it is with artists. So it’s just not coming to me.”
When you have a business need that you’re solving for somebody, there is a timeframe, and there is a particular right and wrong answer. Not always is there only one right and wrong answer, but there’s a way that this needs to get done. So, part of seeing myself as a business has helped me stop getting stuck by, “Oh, I’m not feeling creative.” You have a job to do, and there’s something that needs to be done, so push through and do it. Definitely easier said than done, I recognize that. But part of how that happens is also routine. And when I went solo, something that was very important to me was to see myself as a business. And so I rented an office about a mile from my home, and I got a new email address and a new desk phone and really separate this so that I go to work every day to do my work and go home and not live in sort of the feeling of a creative, what could I think of today just as a sort of abstract hobby type thing.
And then there’s the parts of, when things do get a little bit stuck, I would say the most helpful thing to get out of a thinking rut is to go back to the information of this project and read it again. If it’s a book I’m trying to market, just page through that book again, if it’s a course, read what they’re talking about and see if I can come up with a better title for the course. Or what am I actually dealing with? Have I gone too far off base where my brain is getting itself stuck because it’s not even trying to solve the original problem? It’s just going off in places. So going back to the stuff and saying, “Okay, what’s the ultimate need here? What are they actually expecting from me? Is this getting bigger than it needs to be? Because my brain’s making it that way, but it’s just really pretty straightforward.”
Rob Marsh: So Avi, if I’m a copywriter and I’ve never done naming before, but I’m thinking, “Hey, this would be a great service for me to add to my business.” What should I do to you to learn the art of this? Are there books that I should check out? Do I just create a product and throw it up on my website and start doing it? Are there things that I really need to know before I get started? Just tell me, let me be your assistant, your apprentice. What do I have to do to be the next Avi?
Avi Webb: Oh, I don’t want taking that, but you can be the next Rob. I think that looking at names out there and seeing, again, not what they are, but why they work. And in many ways developing your own opinion about them. And so you may think that Blackberry was a very poor choice of name, especially as the product itself has gone the way it’s gone. So, I mean, I think most people would say it’s pretty good. But you might choose to say you have a philosophy that’s different. And for whatever reason, you see that naming things in a different way, things that are very literal. I don’t know. I think most people wouldn’t say that. So sort of allowing yourself to develop your own perspective on what a good name needs to do can be a good place to start. And then looking out in the world and seeing the names that do something for you that speak to you in a certain way, why.
Ask yourself what would be a literal way of doing this and how did they change my perspective through their name or through their slogan, or through that first encounter copy. Looking at the whole picture of what the process entails. We talked a little bit about the research going into it, and then the recommendations and knowing that it’s clear for domain name, for social handles, for trademark. Knowing what you might need to do here. And not necessarily providing all of it, but not getting caught, recommending something after tons and tons of work that it was just a non-starter because of a blind spot like that. As far as books, one of the books that I really appreciate is called Don’t Call It That by Eli Altman. And he has a company called A Hundred Monkeys, which specializes in naming. And I’ve seen his … He has a kind of a workbook called Don’t Call It That, which I actually use as well. And he has a naming game that comes along with it or is associated. So those are good places I think, to start and see how others are doing it.
Kira Hug: Okay, my next question. We talk a lot about lead gen with copywriters. Most of our conversations are, “Okay, how do I get clients? How do I find clients?” Just curious, what has helped you land the right types of clients? What’s worked for you?
Avi Webb: Well, I’ve been very, very blessed to have happy clients in the past. And a very good network and a good community within my own personal Jewish community. Many people who work with others in the community who have referred me or who get to see my work in a sort of narrower context than all over the place. So, that was the first getting the business off the ground. More recently I found a pretty good stride on LinkedIn. I can’t necessarily say that I get like a ton of leads directly. Oh, this post does that. But I think I’ve been able to see more informed inquiries, people with a better sense of what copywriting is, what naming is good for, and what I specifically can do. And so, in addition to getting leads in that way, I’m also finding, like I said, that people are further along the awareness of what this can do for them and why it’s valuable. So, that’s been helpful as well.
And networking has been very helpful to me as well. I’m very, very grateful to you guys, as I came to Nashville for the first time. Well, I guess it was only once in Nashville, but I came to TCCIRL for the first time this past March, which was incredible. I’ve been working a lot with Amy Posner and many of the people that she has in her circle, which they’ve been just an incredible group of people to get to know what each of us is really great at and refer to each other for those specialties. So I think referrals from clients, for me LinkedIn has worked. and some of these referrals to other professionals who you respect and get what you’re doing have been very helpful.
Rob Marsh: Kira, you’ve got more questions. Keep asking.
Kira Hug: Sorry, Rob. And I was trying not to hog the mic. So one of my last questions, I’m curious what you’re struggling with right now. I mean, you have a great business. You’re clear on what you bring to the table. What’s the struggle today in your business?
Avi Webb: There are probably two aspects that I’d really like to have a better handle on. One is scaling in the near term. So thank God I’ve seen the business really improve and expand and grow over the last 18 months specifically. And I started taking on junior copywriters for certain projects so I can actually get more volume going. So that’s sort of new and getting more processes into place. So scaling in the near term is something that I’m not great at. And I think many of us struggle with delegating. Especially because writing and communication is what we sell. So even a simple email of, “Can you meet on Zoom?” I’m like nervous. Is it going to come off with the wrong tone? Every word in an email is so important. So that’s something I struggle with, being able to delegate and do this in a way that hopefully can help the business really scale.
And in the long term, I think that there’s probably for all of us a certain peak, we’re growing and growing and growing and getting more of a reputation, and people really turning to us for a certain expertise. And then as I’ve observed, it either becomes a legend or it has been. Where there’s a new class of people that come up and do what you do very, very well. Better perhaps. There’s new knowledge, there’s new technology, there’s all certain things like that. And so, how am I putting things into place today so that when that inevitably does happen, there’s a sense that the experience I have is still valuable if not the freshest and youngest to those that are doing it now, but it hasn’t just dropped off a cliff. There’s a lot of bedrock-type stuff built-in that’s still going to be useful down the line in consultation or things like that. That’s something that I think about as well.
Kira Hug: Before we wrap, tell us a little bit more about what’s next for you? What are you most excited about right now?
Avi Webb: I’m really enjoying day by day. I really am. I have a wife and three kids at home and we’ve been building this together. My wife is a partner in the business, a silent partner, but she gives all the good advice. So, we’re building this together as a sort of … I said that separating yourself and your business is important, and it is. And we work really hard at the boundary of that, but I love what I’m doing and I enjoy it beyond just the actual work of it. So, building this together and seeing where we go as a family. And as we grow up a little bit, seeing my kids grow, we’ve got a 10-year-old and a seven-year-old, and they’re just starting. My daughter’s really great at naming, actually. She loves this stuff. So she comes to dinner every night with a new idea for a business that she can name. I’m just enjoying the day by day and trying to do one thing at a time to head in the right direction of where we want to see this go.
Rob Marsh: Thinking about hiring your daughter to name something. I don’t know what I need to name right now, but it sounds like she might have an inside track to the experts, but is still just figuring it out?
Avi Webb: Yeah, I would say hire her now. She’s really good.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. She might be the bargain, the diamond in the rough ready to shine. So, Avi thank you so much for everything you’ve shared. If somebody wants to connect with you know, get on your list, or even work with you to name a program, a product or service, where should they go?
Avi Webb: The best place to find me is for a project probably is aviwebb.com. It gives you a little sense of some of the things I’ve done, and there’s a form on the bottom, not too difficult to just, if this sounds like something that is what you’re looking for, you can schedule time to speak. I’m also on LinkedIn, I guess my name, Avi Webb, A-V-I W-E-B-B. Those are probably the two best places to be in touch.
Kira Hug: Thank you, Avi. And it was so great to meet you in Nashville. So I’m glad that we were able to meet in person. And thanks for joining us today. We appreciate it.
Avi Webb: I am too. Thank you so, so much.
Rob Marsh: Yeah. Thanks, Avi. That’s the end of our interview with Avi. I’ve got notes as I always do, but Kira, what about you? I went first last time, you go first. What stood out to you here?
Kira Hug: Lots of notes. Okay. Well, I really appreciated that Avi talked about not everyone being a good fit for him. And I respect the fact that he has conversations with prospects and will tell them if they aren’t a good fit and maybe they should return in a year or six months, or maybe it’s just they’re not ready and they need to work through some other business struggles first. And I think that’s just really cool as a business owner to be able to get to a place where you can say, “Hey, this is what I offer, is really valuable. I know it can help you, but also you’re not quite ready for it. You would get a lot more out of this package if you worked on this part of your business first.” And so that type of diagnosis is really powerful and I’m sure that his clients appreciate it.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, it’s really tempting when a client comes to you with a need, just to say, “Yes, I can do that.” Rather than taking the step back and say, “Wait, is this the thing that we really need? Is this the thing that’s really going to move your business forward?” And it takes a level of maturity in business to be able to take that step back like Avi was talking about and saying, “You’re not ready for this yet. You’ve got some other stuff that needs to happen. And maybe that’s stuff I can help you with. Maybe it’s not stuff I can help you with. It has to happen first.” And I appreciate that as well.
Kira Hug: And we also talked about some of his naming techniques. So I felt that was a fun part of the conversation to hear some of his examples. I know he talked about Back in the Box as a name for one of his clients, a reverse logistics company and how he uses word smash to come up with different names like Fabletics. And how he brings old words combined with a new use, like Life Jacket Beer. So, I mean, just hearing him talk through, it just feels so creative. To me, it was just like, “Oh, we have such large creative capacity as copywriters. And maybe sometimes I’m not using that enough. And how much farther can I push that creativity with the client work that I do.” And so it was just more inspiring than anything to hear his names and how he’s worked with his clients.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, I know I asked Avi about some of his favorite names that he’s seen maybe that he hadn’t actually created, but that others had. And we talked about Fabletics and Blackberry. I’ve been thinking about it too. And was just kind of thinking, “There’s some other great names like Häagen-Dazs ice cream, which is totally made up. It doesn’t mean anything, but it feels really extravagant. Sort of obviously, or I guess it’s not obvious because it’s not real, but it sounds sort of Dutch or European. And so there’s got to be some kind of mystery to it or whatever, what a great name. Or even product names like Walkman and Game Boy that tell you exactly what it is. I mean, it’s just they feel the product that you have in your hand.
And there was a company, there are actually a lot of little companies that came to us when I worked at the startup that I was part of where we did brand identity. Not necessarily naming, but creating the logos and all of the design elements that would go along with that, including copy. And one of them was called The Sod Father, and it was a gardener yard work kind of thing. And of course the design sort of followed the Mario Puzo design of the movie, whatever, but it was very creative and it’s just those kinds of names just sort of stick in your head and good names are hard. And so I just want to appreciate some of those good names that are out there.
Kira Hug: You know which name I still don’t like as a business and a brand, even though I appreciate the brand?
Rob Marsh: Which one is that?
Kira Hug: Goop?
Rob Marsh: Ugh. Yeah.
Kira Hug: It’s the worst.
Rob Marsh: Yeah, it sounds like a blob of stuff you wouldn’t want to touch, right?
Kira Hug: Yeah. I mean, I didn’t like it from the beginning. I still don’t like it, even though I will shop and surf the brand and check it out, but it’s never stuck with me. Can’t make it happen.
Rob Marsh: It’s easy to go wrong with names, and maybe Goop does resonate with some of that audience, but-
Kira Hug: If it resonates, you’re listening to this and it resonates with you, please reach out to us. I would just like to know if it does resonate with anyone at all. Okay, we also talked about creativity and how to pull that creativity into your work, especially for Avi, who really, his work is so creative. And I liked his tips around getting out of your space, going to an office space. I mean, that for me, I recently started going to a coffee shop on Mondays, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but after not doing it for a couple of years, it’s huge for just helping me feel more creative and think a lot bigger about what I’m doing. What helps you Rob, feel more creative in your work?
Rob Marsh: So for me, there’s a couple of things. It always helps if I have a clean desk. So when my desk is sort of stacked with piles of things, lots of open books, lots of stuff going on, it’s really hard for me to get focused on that. We’ve mentioned Brain.fm in the past. I love that it just helps me focus and be more creative. There’s some really cool musical mixes that they have that just let me get into that zone. But then also, play, just sort of being able to get up away from the desk, walk around, be outside. Play with the dog. Even taking time to go to the bookstore or sit down, watch a movie. Those kinds of things, I think just pull you away from the stream of thought that is work and really helps focus and be a little bit more creative.
The one other thing that I’ll mention that I love to do. It doesn’t necessarily end up reflecting in the writing that I do, but I’ve got a bunch of design annuals that have these fantastic examples of copywriting and old ads that are, among the best of the old ads. I love just paging through those, seeing the headlines, the way the copies are written. The interesting terms of phrase. And that usually gets my brain sort of thinking a little bit differently when I’m looking at that. Not necessarily as a way of writing my own headlines, but just to kind of have me thinking in a different direction.
Kira Hug: Yes. And we also talked with Avi about, as we were talking about the names and which names resonate with him, and which ones don’t resonate. He offered some advice to just continue to think about names as we hear them day to day. I mean, the Goop’s of the world, or as you purchase new products to think about the name and think about why it works or why it doesn’t work. And to just form an opinion about it, whether or not you share it, just to learn by forming opinions. Because we have lots of opinions, and so why not learn through that process? And I think what also could be cool is just creating your own marketing content by sharing what works and what doesn’t work. Even if it’s not your area of expertise, even if you’re not a naming expert, you could still share what names resonate with you, why you think it works, break it down and be really selective. Because I think those opinions and those viewpoints really help differentiate you from everyone else in the space.
Rob Marsh: Agreed. The last thing that I want to mention is what Avi had to say about when to use your personal name as a business name or when to use a business name. I thought his advice was really good. We get that question a lot. And as I think about it, I think about what is the thing that people are looking for when they search for you? Do you want them to search for your name and find you, or do you want them to search for something like a SaaS copywriter and find you? And depending on how you answer that question, maybe change the answer for your own business. Whether you should use your name or your business name. We did talk about this on the very first episode of the podcast, episode one with Kaylee Moore and how she actually changed from using a business name to using her own name. And that’s kind of an interesting discussion.
Kira Hug: Yeah, that conversation never gets old because it continues to resurface. And I’m always thinking about it as I think about new projects. I’m like, “Well, where does this new project fit? Is it under the Copywriter Club? Is it under Kira Hug? Is it a different brand? And how does it all fit together?” It’s kind of a fun puzzle to put together.
Rob Marsh: We want to thank Avi Webb for joining us and sharing so much about what he does as the name guy. If you want to connect with Avi, you can visit aviwebb.com. That’s A-V-I W-E-B-B.com or check him out on LinkedIn because he tends to spend a lot of time there and post quite a bit. You might be able to connect with him there. This week’s review shout-out is from listener El’s Angel. She’s in Great Britain. I’m assuming it’s a she since it’s El like maybe I’m making that assumption wrong, but she’s in Great Britain. She called herself a loyal follower. Her review is short and sweet, five stars. And thanks for that El. She says, “I love this podcast. Packed with great info, great guests. And I can still listen in the car with my son around as the language is clean.” And yeah, usually, the language is pretty clean here. Maybe we-
Kira Hug: I feel like we should make it dirtier.
Rob Marsh: Change that up. No, we don’t want to lose El. So thanks El’s Angel for listening and leaving a review. And if you are listening and want us to mention you on a future episode of the podcast, head over to Apple Podcast, leave a review yourself, it just takes a second. And we love to hear what you think.
Kira Hug: And if you want to listen to even more podcast episodes, you could go way back to the beginning of the Copywriter Club and tune into the very first episode with Kaylee Moore, where we talked about whether you should use a personal brand name or a company brand name. And why she changed her approach. I would like to listen to that, because this is five years ago. So I do not remember that episode.
Rob Marsh: Time to tune in again, yeah.
Kira Hug: Yeah, I feel like I was a teenager back then. And if you want to dive deeper into the research process. Listen to our interview with Hannah Shamji, that’s episode 154.
Rob Marsh: That’s the end of this episode of the Copywriter Club Podcast. The intro music was composed by copywriter and songwriter, Addison Rice. The outro was composed by copywriter and songwriter, David Munter. If you liked what you heard today, share a screenshot of the episode with your favorite takeaway and tag us with that on Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn. And we will see you next week.