Justin Blackman, Brand Ventriloquy: Write Like You Talk – InnovaBuzz 274

Justin Blackman

Justin Blackman, Pretty Fly Copy

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Justin Blackman of Pretty Fly Copywriting. Justin specializes in analyzing and documenting brand voice. He uses a “Brand Ventriloquist Framework” to break down a person’s writing style so others can emulate it. Writers can use it to sound like their client or their business owner.

In our discussion, Justin and I talked about:

  • How to write from the perspective of your customer’s situation
  • How reading online reviews can help with our writing
  • Why you should look at your fish

Samar Owais in episode 249 introduced us to Justin.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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A generic headline is not bad but if you want to be good at writing headlines, you have to write deep. You have to write more and more, because you are never going to get it on the first shot. @PrettyFlyCopy on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Justin Blackman of Pretty Fly Copy

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • Writing is different from talking.
  • Figure out the main features and benefits that you need to focus on. Be clear about who your customers are and what their needs and wants are, and then figure out the best way to position that.
  • Brand ventriloquy is a system that mathematically breaks down someone’s writing style.
  • The key elements of the Brand Ventriloquy Framework are:
    1. Words (vocabulary) – the level of words that you use
    2. Tone – the underlying emotions behind your writing
    3. Frequency (cadence) – the rhythm of your writing
  • You can learn to mimic different writing styles and have it fit within a brand. These things make a tremendous difference in the way that your writing looks on a page and how it is perceived by the world. You can change what people hear when you write simply by tweaking any of the three elements of the Brand Ventriloquy Framework.
  • Brand ventriloquy is a style guide for writing.
  • You don’t have to be involved in all of your content. Copywriting is something that you can outsource.
  • Copywriters know the techniques for writing. You just have to steer them in the right direction and give them all the resources that they need. There’s a distinct and very important art and science that go into writing email sequences and launching, that an average person would not know, but a good copywriter will.
  • Good copy sounds nothing like how your high school teacher talked to you. There are many formal English writing rules that don’t work in copywriting. And so, everything that your high school English teacher has taught you may probably be working against you.
  • An adverb is a sign of a weak verb. e.g. really going to like – if you improve the verb, it is “love”. “You are going to love this” is a stronger and more powerful statement than “You are really going to like this.”
  • The Rule of Three – our brain is taught to identify patterns and the smallest pattern you can have is three. Looping things in sets of three when writing, makes your copy more readable, understandable, and likable (see what we did there!!!).
  • “Style is the stuff that we get wrong.” – Neal Gaiman.
  • Don’t be afraid to disobey grammar rules. You are breaking the rules because you know the rules. Breaking the rules is oftentimes a good way to identify your audience.
  • Reading online customer reviews is a good way to see what people are talking about. Pull those words and inject them into your copy.
  • The things that people say online are better than anything that you can come up with in your head. It’s real. It’s emotional. It’s raw, unedited, and imperfect, which makes it all true. It is what makes the best kind of writing.
  • A good headline is something that is interesting and unique. It has to be believable but almost to the point of just pushing it. 
  • The more specific you can get with your headline, the better. Make it as short as it can be.
  • A generic headline is not bad but if you want to be good at writing headlines, you have to write deep. You have to write more and more because you are never going to get it on the first shot.
  • Humour is risky but it allows you to stand out. 
  • There are many similarities between what makes a good joke and what makes effective copy. The intro, the setup, the hook, the punchline, the callback, are things that you can find in comedy and also in good copy.
  • Putting your power word at the end of your sentence makes your sentence more interesting. 
  • Learning what you like about humour and how to write a good joke can help you become a better copywriter. 
The things that people say online are better than anything that you can come up with in your head. It is what makes the best kind of writing. @PrettyFlyCopy on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Justin’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Listen to the interview to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Look at your fish. Learn by observation and observe deeper than anyone else.
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Share your process. It is what makes you unique. Share your process and figure out what you can do differently than anybody else and make that your super power.
  3. Favourite tool for innovationThe Hemingway App
  4. Keep project / client on track – Set deadlines before they are due. The deadline and constraints that you set will make you more creative.
  5. Differentiate – Be unabashedly YOU. There’s always something about you that is going to make you interesting whether it is your passion or style. Build your story by helping people tell theirs. The more you do it, the more interesting it becomes, and the more you have to talk about. People will care about something that you’ve done. You just have to go out there, tell it, and you will find your tribe.

To Be a Leader

Look at your fish.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Justin through his website, Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Suggested Guest

Justin suggested I interview Claire Pelletreau, Facebook Ads Consultant, Linda Perry, Mindset Coach for Copywriters and Creative Entrepreneurs, and Oren Klaff, author of Pitch Anything. So Claire, Linda, and Oren, keep an eye on your inboxes for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of Justin Blackman.


Cool things about Justin

  • He was named as one of the copywriters to watch for in 2018.
  • His favourite author is Shel Silverstein. 
  • He has 4 tattoos of Shel Silverstein’s drawings, plus a few others.
Build your story by helping people tell theirs. @PrettyFlyCopy on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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