Content Is King

With the sweeping success of iPads and the mind-boggling reach of the internet, the publishing world has heard the same thing over and over again; print media’s days are numbered. Glossy magazines are experiencing dwindling sales and many have folded.

Editors around the world have come to the humble magazine’s defence and have said things like “you can’t read an iPad in the bath” and “you can’t get that tactile feel and pictures aren’t the same on a screen.” But you can’t just sit back and hope that Apple doesn’t release a water-proof iPad and that digital displays won’t improve. So what’s the answer?

Many publishers have taken the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ approach; jumping on the digital bandwagon and really expanding their impressive brand’s online presence.  What these big names have is just that; big names. Many have profited from their branding and expanded their reach to online mediums. Others, and I’d hate to name and shame, have not been as successful. They have diluted their brand through gimmicky online mediums and tacky Facebook pages.Conent-is-king

The most important point to take from this transition from printing press to pixels is that ‘content is king’. This sentiment has been echoed in many a magazine office. In her recent biography Former Vogue Australia Editor Kirstie Clements finished on a message of prevailing integrity, “The mediums have changed and will change again, but honest, intelligent content is still key.”

While the our Copywriters love a good sound effect and character voice as much as the next guy, we know that as soon as you say something like “just give us a call for more information” on the end of an on hold message you’ve lost your credibility. Ultimately if you have a potential customer who is waiting On Hold for you to return, getting them to give you a call doesn’t make sense and no amount of sound effects or music is going to disguise that fact.

No matter how great your website looks, or how interactive your new app is, content will always be important. So if you have a typo on your homepage or a cliché in your On Hold production, don’t shrug it off. Take this opportunity to breathe new life into your content. And if you don’t know where to start, talented and modest copywriters will be happy to show you ways to deliver your business’ message to your callers in pithy 50 to 60 word bursts.

– Emily

For All Your Marketing Needs & Requirements

I bet you’ve heard these common phrases a million times, on TV & radio ads, on websites and in print:

‘We’ve got all the products for all your electrical needs…’

‘We’re your one-stop-shop for all your hardware requirements…’

‘Our friendly staff are here to help…’

Feeling sleepy yet? I sure am.

Here in the Copywriting Department we have a self-imposed ban on clichéd phrases like needs, requirements, one-stop-shop, and ‘friendly’ staff.

Cut back on the waffle.

Cut back on the waffle.

Why? Well to start with; what does ‘all your electrical needs’ really mean? Does your life depend on that new iPod or television… probably not, although the members of Generation Y may feel differently. And ‘friendly’ staff; the fact that your staff are nice people who will treat customers with respect shouldn’t be a drawing card, it should be a given!

When you’ve heard something a million times before, you just switch off. When we’re writing an On Hold production we try to be as succinct, effective, ear-catching and original as possible. Words like ‘needs’ and ‘requirements’ don’t grab people’s attention. They turn people off. You only have a few moments to impress your callers, so don’t waste your time with meaningless drivel like “for all your insurance/financial/shopping needs”.

These clichéd phrases don’t grab people’s attention because we hear them so often we’ve conditioned ourselves to stop listening. Like when you hear ‘Thank you for holding, your call is important to us’; it doesn’t really grab your attention does it? You know in your heart of hearts that it’s an empty sentiment. If you avoid these clichés, you dramatically increase the odds that people will listen, and then act.

This time can be put to better use.

Instead of writing:

“For all your insurance needs…”

Why not focus on a benefit:

“For award winning insurance and the expert advice that comes from decades of experience…”

By reducing the amount of empty jargon on your On Hold you can increase the amount of time spent talking about the real benefits you offer your customers.

What if a restaurant ran with the slogan:

‘for all your nutritional support needs’?

That doesn’t sound very appetising. Don’t just tell your callers what you do; tell them why & how you do it better than everyone else:

‘Using only the freshest ingredients and inventive recipes we guarantee your dining experience with us will really satisfy.’

So get in touch with us and put the Copywriting Department to the test. We can ensure your On Hold production focuses on what makes your business better than your competitors… and keep your callers listening to boot!

P.S. If you’re after more copywriting tips, watch this Copywriting for Results Mastering Marketing video.

– Emily

Is Your Caller Important To You?

The worst recorded words you can hear over the phone are; “Thank you for holding, your call is important to us. One of our operators will be with you shortly”. The first time you hear it you believe it. “Why would this lovely voice lie to me?” As time goes on you realise that in your heart of hearts they will not be with you shortly. The tell tale signs appear; you might put the phone on speaker, you go on the computer, maybe turn on the TV because you to know ‘shortly’ is a relative term.your-call-is-important

In our Copywriting Department we shudder at the phrase – knowing full well that it does the complete opposite of what it is supposed to do. It does not put the caller at ease, especially when they hear it multiple times. In fact, it reminds the caller that they’re caught in ‘on hold purgatory’ and makes their wait time seem longer.

When a client requests a generic courtesy message in their on hold production, we remind them that doing so has the opposite effect. We remind them that it’s much wiser to inform callers of the new services available at the company, encourage the caller to like a Facebook page or check out the website. After all, the longer a caller stays on hold, the less the courtesy message sounds reassuring and the more it begins to sound like a taunt!

In an ideal world your callers would only be on hold long enough to hear a few messages, but for any number of reasons this isn’t always the case. It’s important in these situations to entertain and educate the caller with fun, interesting and informative messages. You might even like to let them know alternative ways of contacting your company. The objective is to take your caller’s mind off the wait and tell them how you can in fact assist them.

Thank you for reading this blog, your time is important to us.

(See! Even when it is genuine it rarely comes across that way!)

– Emily

Do You Speak Reptilian?

Fact: you don’t need to be a brain surgeon to manipulate someone’s brain. You just need lizardto know what language speaks to the part of the brain that controls emotion. Once you learn this half the “sales battle” is already won.

The part of the brain in question is called the ‘Reptilian Brain’ and it’s the oldest and most critical part of our grey matter. This section of our brain works quickly and simply. If the decision process making becomes too convoluted the Reptilian Brain takes over.

So how do we get a one way ticket to this part of the brain? With clever copy that directly addresses our target market’s pain points. As a copywriter, I need to distil the message down to its most basic form and then relate that to how it will benefit the caller.

Let’s take the two messages below for example. The first one focuses on the company, the second on the caller.

FV: Thank you for holding. We are open from 7am until 10.30pm every day of the week and stock a huge range of nappies, formulas, baby garments, pacifiers and more. Think of us as your one stop baby shop.

Not that compelling, right? Now let’s try it by speaking directly with the Reptilian Brain.

SFX intro: Crickets chirping. Baby Starts Crying. Crickets stop but baby keeps crying in the background
FV: (Tired) Honey, wake up. We’re out of nappies – could you nip down to the pharmacist? Oh and pick up some formula too.
MV: (Annoyed) What? At this hour?
FV: It’s okay – they’re open until 10.30 at night! (end SFX)
FV2: (Voice Over) Acme Pharmacist – open 7am to 10.30pm for life’s little emergencies.
SFX outro: Baby cooing

Rather than telling the caller about the hours and range, the second message demonstrates it. It focuses on the benefit of being available late at night and provides evidence of their solution to the caller’s problem. Instead of listing items, it creates a scenario that highlights the core concept of baby products available late at night. Most importantly, it recognises that familiar feeling all parents get when a baby won’t go to sleep. Put simply, it tugs on a parent’s emotional strings.

The key point to remember when writing for the Reptilian Brain is to focus on why the subject is important to the listener and how it will benefit them. If you’d like to learn more about appealing to your caller’s “Reptilian Brain”, check out this great article by Action Words on Neuromarketing that offers 6 simple rules for selling.


Kill the Cliches!

Ticking clocks. Arrows hitting targets. Chances are you’ve come across these visual symbols splashed across hundreds of websites, banners, print ads and tv commercials. In fact I’d say it’s a certainty. Even if you can’t recall a specific example, it just goes to prove you should avoid clichés in your marketing, or risk being forgotten.



Using a ticking clock to show the passage of time may have once been considered a stroke of creative ingenuity, but those days are gone forever. The moment an execution becomes clichéd, so does the organisation behind it. No lasting impression is made, and the audience forgets about the company the instant they switch channels or turn the page. And that’s the last thing your business wants.

Clichés exist On Hold too. We’ve all heard them before.
• Your call is important to us
• Thank you for holding
• We are your one-stop shop
• …for all your needs and requirements.

To make your business stand out, it’s important to have a production that’s uniquely yours.

It starts with copywriting that combats convention. At Messages On Hold we find out from you the most significant aspects of your products and services. Then it’s the job of our experienced copywriters to find one-off, creative ways to educate your callers in a way that reflects your branding and distinguishes you from the rest. That means no clichés.

At the recording and mixing stage, forget about the generic tinny elevator music and tired voices that have become the norm. Choose brilliant tracks written by talented musicians, a diverse cast of professional voice actors and an enormous library of high-quality sound effects.

Why not see how we put it all together with a customised demo?


Telephone Audio: A Sound Way to Influence Customers

As a business owner or operator you probably set aside a budget for building your customer base. Odds are a lot of this spend is designed to get your phone ringing. But have you given any thought to how you handle those calls when they’re answered or the caller is placed on hold?

Every incoming call has to be handled exactly right if you want to convert that enquiry into positive action. If you’re guilty of advertising with the aim of increasing caller enquiries, but then forgetting about the experience you deliver over the telephone, here are a few ways you can influence customers, drive sales and reinforce your brand promise by delivering a superior caller experience.

Welcome Message
The Welcome Message is the most important (and often most neglected) recording inside your phone system. Rather than bore callers with a bland greeting, work in a positioning line, some music or mention an upcoming event or promotion to make a favourable first impression that has immediate impact.

Menu Prompts
Menus, for the most part, are monotonous lists designed to direct callers to the correct department. Factor in grammatical errors, poor syntax, industry jargon and an unprofessional voiceover, and callers end up confused and frustrated. With some expert help it’s easy to relax callers, put them in a better frame of mind and get them where they need to go, faster.

On Hold Messages
If you place callers on hold or transfer calls between departments, this is a modern must. A well written messages on hold production not only makes the wait time seem shorter, but warms up leads and prompts callers to act. Think of it as having your best sales or customer service representative speaking one-on-one with every waiting customer.

After Hours Messages
Just like your on hold messages, an after hours message must be powerful if you want callers to act. After all, if they don’t leave a message or call back in the morning, what’s the point? If you don’t know how to script and voice a powerfully persuasive after hours message, you can expect potential buyers who rang outside of business hours to forget you entirely, or even worse, hang up and call your competitor.

Voicemail Messages
How come everyone’s voicemail is so dreary and monotonous? “Hi, you’ve called John Smith. Unfortunately I can’t come to the phone but leave a message”. What’s wrong with adding some personality? Boring voicemails do nothing to encourage the caller to leave a message, and in most cases drive customers to call the next business on their list.

There’s a lot to think about, isn’t there? The good news is, our team is here to help you decide what you should be promoting on hold. Your Creative Coordinator will also be in touch regularly with message ideas and seasonal scripts to help you make the most of what’s happening in your business. Getting started is easy, just follow this link and fill in your details!

Messages On Hold: Steroids for VoIP Systems

In April we posted here on what it takes to create a fantastic-looking and highly-effective web video. Today I’d like to share with you the finished product.


As per usual, Messages On Hold MD Kym Illman stars in our latest video production.

There’s no denying VoIP phone systems are becoming more and more popular. In fact, we encourage all our clients to make the switch from traditional PABX system to VoIP because not only are they easier to manage, they also provide our clients with more opportunities to reinforce their brand image and market to their callers.

That’s because unlike a traditional PABX or commander phone system, which requires additional hardware, select VoIP systems are capable of playing:
• A welcome message
• Menu prompts
• Voicemail messages
• After hours message
• and more

Until recently, a client of 5 years had been playing On Hold messages through one of our digital replay units connected to their PABX phone system. When they told us that they were beginning to outgrow their system and considering alternatives, we advised them that a VoIP system would allow them to manage their inbound call traffic much more effectively and directed them to watch our video on YouTube. (It’s since been uploaded onto our homepage and downloads page.)

Although many businesses make the mistake of recording the audio themselves, our client understood from watching our videos that their welcome message and menu prompts were hugely effective at shaping callers perceptions. They also didn’t want to run the risk of sub-par recordings compromising the effectiveness of their professional On Hold messages. So they had us script, voice and mix their phone greeting, voice prompts and after hours recordings instead.

If you have a question about VoIP and how to leverage it to connect with callers and support your sales teams, post your question on our Facebook page or contact us today.

– Lachy

Pace Yourself

It’s easy to assume that a good read is all about lovely language, flowing sentences and correct grammar. Yes, all those things are important, but let’s not forget about language’s forgotten principle: pacing.

In a nutshell, pacing can be defined as the rhythm of a piece of text, whether that be a song, movie, poem or of course your On Hold messages.

kymTo help explain pacing more clearly we can look to Hollywood superstar (and my own, personal hero) Nicolas Cage. Consider this reviewer’s comment: “Nic Cage’s performance is so predictably loony it’s no longer amusing.”

Cut that performance down to its individual, maniacally charged scenes and they can be very entertaining, unpredictable and humorous. But stretch that same performance out over the duration of a film and it’s a very different story.

Cage has one gear: pedal-to-the-metal bonkers. Insane he might be, but over the course of 90 minutes you will start to predict what’s coming, get bored and tune out. And that dear reader is the worst that can happen On Hold. When the listener is able to predict what will happen next, they too will grow bored and tune out.

To prevent the same thing happening on the phone with your business we recommend using at least two voices (a male and female in most cases) across the entire production. Sometimes we’ll use multiple talents in the same message to break up a longer chunk of information. This keeps the caller engaged. Why? If callers are listening to more than one voice On Hold it’s harder for them to get accustomed to the recording, and this keeps their attention. It counters monotony.

Another approach is to vary the length of messages across the production. If a caller can predict where a message will start and end, it’s easier to tune out. But by varying the word count of each individual message you keep listeners on their toes.

Sometimes it pays to vary the structure of some messages by scripting mini-scenarios that demonstrate a product, rather than just tell a caller about it. Encouraging callers to imagine how the product works in action, as opposed to reciting a list of features, helps them paint a picture in their mind’s eye.

These pacing techniques keep callers guessing, making for a vibrant, varied production.  Most importantly, such a production will keep prospects on the line for longer while communicating aspects of your business to them in an engaging way.

– Magnus

Gone in 60 Seconds

kymAccording to telecommunications corporation AT & T, over 70% of business calls are placed On Hold for an average of 45 to 60 seconds each. 60% of callers hang up, and

30% of those never call back. Think about that first figure for a second, excuse the pun… what do you think you could do within a minute? 

You could fire off a few quick emails, send an SMS, have a snack and pour yourself a drink, maybe with a few seconds to spare. According to a popular Nicolas Cage film, you can even steal a fleet of cars, although the legal backlash probably doesn’t warrant experimenting with this. The point is: with a little thought, one minute can be more productive than you think.

A lot of companies will welcome you to their On Hold with something along the lines of “Thank you for calling ACME Company. We appreciate your call and thank you for holding.” Now I’m no call analyst, but I reckon the callers who hang up and never call back don’t get far beyond “Thank you for hol… *click*”

At Messages On Hold, we love nothing more than injecting a dose of personality into every single message we write. From a full four-minute production down to a menu prompt that’s only a few seconds long, any message can be made into something informative and creative that encourages callers to stay on the line instead of repulsing them. Next time you have us come up with a script, why not go in with an open mind and see how we make the most of every single second your callers are on that phone line?

See what we can do in just 30 seconds here.

– Magnus

Welcoming a Happier Customer

I have worked in retail and hospitality, and in both industries I was instructed to always greet customers when they entered the store/cafe. “Customers feel more comfortable browsing for longer and are more likely to buy something” I was told. And they were right! Whenever I visit a store or approach the counter today as a customer and they don’t greet me, I feel as though I’m intruding or shouldn’t be there. A nice warm welcome is a really simple way to let customers know that you appreciate them visiting or calling your business.

Ever called a company only to be greeted by a receptionist who sounded half asleep, grumpy or just plain disinterested? It doesn’t create a great first impression. An automated phone greeting is a better way to ensure every customer is greeted in a warm and welcoming manner.

Is the phone always ringing off the hook in your office? Perhaps some days you’re understaffed and it rings longer than you would like. With an auto attendant set to kick in after two or three rings, customers aren’t given the opportunity to hang up before their call is answered/take their business elsewhere. They’re greeted instantly with a warm and welcoming greeting message. The auto attendant can then ask the caller to leave their details, play a menu directing the call to the right department, or place them on hold until staff are in a position to give their full attention to the customer.

I was out shopping recently and upon entering a store, I was not only greeted but advised “today we have 25% off everything in store!” Naturally, I bought a few things that I wouldn’t have picked up at full price, simply because she took the time to greet me and let me know about the promotion. What I also noticed however, is that when the same shop assistant answered the phone she neglected to mention the sale to her prospective customer. Now no one’s perfect. (I like to eavesdrop.)  But a professional phone welcome message that not only greets every customer but also mentions “Everything in store is 25% off” makes good business sense.

It’s a simple customer service principal that can be applied to any customer interactions, on the shop floor, in the waiting room, or on the phone. First impressions matter. With our professional scripting and voiceover services, you’re able to leverage your Auto Attendant to make callers feel valued and appreciated. And perhaps even make a few extra sales while you’re at it!

– Rachel McGeorge