From Le Locle to Gloucestershire and Messe Basel to New York's Fifth Avenue, the luxury watch industry is addressing the massive paradigm shift of digital marketing alongside traditional bricks and mortar channels. Excellent digital copywriting matters more than ever.
Maybe you're an aspiring luxury watch brand, a marketing agency working for luxury watch brands, or a vintage luxury watch dealer in the Cotswolds? Whatever your interest in marketing luxury watches, you know digital copywriting must work harder for your business. Unfortunately, you haven't got the time, specialist skills or even the inclination to research and write engaging website articles, trade press pieces, online product descriptions or other vital content for digital (and traditional) media.
I bring an unjaded fascination with luxury watches, practical experience writing for the watch industry, and valuable experience in marketing, technical writing, PR and copywriting before going freelance. Oh yes, I also have a long connection with Switzerland and know my way around Baselworld...
Let's talk luxury watches and your luxury watch writing.
Historically, the luxury watch industry has relied on advertising, lavish printed brochures and the services of jewellers, authorised dealers and brand boutiques, to promote its glittering wares. In Geneva Airport's Schengen Zone, Rolex and Omega boutiques stand close by the multi-brand Air Watch Center in the airport's Schengen zone. In Sapporo, Japan, it's the mighty Yodobashi, BIC Camera or Shirakaba Duty Free shop that tempt. And near my office in Gloucestershire, Martin & Co and Beards wave their respective bricks and mortar flags at each other across Cheltenham's Promenade.
However, as Jay Deshpande explained in Europa Star (Ch. 1 2018), luxury watch brands' continuing attraction to high-end retail space comes simultaneously with the watch industry's long-overdue paradigm shift to digital marketing.
The subtitle of The Deloitte Swiss Watch Industry Report 2017 says it all – 'It's all about digital'. The report's Key Findings page summarises the situation as follows:
Digital is key: While a majority of consumers still buy watches in store, 60% use online and digital channels to research prices or find product information. The development of these channels is now the second priority of watch executives after introduction of new products.
As Deloitte report, the Swiss luxury watch industry is finally grasping the reality of online marketing. And by association, it should be waking up to the power of online copywriting in the same way that enlightened microbrands and successful online pre-owned watch retailers, such as UK-based Watchfinder have.
There's a school of thought that digital copywriting for luxury buyers should be impersonal (minimal use of pronouns) and minimalistic (copy light). This may be appropriate for high-end conceptual print advertising and its online equivalents. Unfortunately, it misses the point that even the most affluent of us is conditioned – and has been since time immemorial – to love well-crafted storytelling. In his editorial to Esquire magazine's Autumn/Winter 2015 Big Black Book, Matthew Priest puts the case for 'the oldest form of human communication' powerfully and succinctly.
In fact, it is that same dedication to storytelling that underlines the watch industry ethos. Every timepiece has a story and every brand works tirelessly to ensure that it carves out its own unique storytelling niche...
As a copywriter for watch companies, I can help tell your company, brand and product story.
Now put storytelling into the digital space, be it for affordable microbrands or exquisite luxury watches. Conceptual advertising may only need a headline and brief supporting copy. But try writing a website product description that captures the essence of a brand... Or tells a context-building historical story about tourbillons or aviation timepieces. In such cases, 'copy light' almost certainly won't do the job in digital marketing.
This isn't just because passionate enthusiasts (whether choosing their first automatic Seiko, a stunning Schwarz Etienne piece (below), or an meta-luxurious A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph) love deep, well researched, well-written immersion in their luxury interest. Just look at the popularity of well-written 'deep work' writing from the likes of Hodinkee, Worn & Wound, aBlogtoWatch and other top watch blogs.
Another important reason in the twenty-first century digital marketing space is that search engines such as Google, with the power to deliver visitors to luxury watch sites, will love such copywriting. This is particularly the case if your watch writing is written intelligently around carefully researched semantically linked page keyword sets – it isn't as easy to do as you might think.
Every copywriter with a remote interest in the luxury watch industry references Leagas Delaney's impressively successful Patek Philippe 'Generations' campaign. Quite rightly so, because the campaign has undoubtedly defined a generation of print and digital watch advertising. So there's my obligatory reference to it. Now to move on...
With a few exceptions, if you want to read long-copy horological promotion, you must return to the pre-internet 1970s golden age of luxury watch ads featuring racing drivers, explorers and Concorde jet pilots. Do this (sadly, I can remember these ads from their first appearance) and you will find luxury watch advertising with engaging storytelling that draws readers into brand stories. Isn't it time for a resurgence in such storytelling? Many people think so; just search for 'storytelling in marketing' online....
Alongside such ads, luxury watch brands' printed brochures presented another opportunity to fly the flag of long-copy writing. And long may they do so because, if you're like me, you love the feel and heft of a beautifully produced hard copy brochure. Today's PDF downloads may be cheaper and quicker for luxury watch brands to distribute. But they're not always as easy to read or keep to hand, or as enjoyable to peruse, as hard copy watch brochures. And therein lies another challenge that a skilled watch industry copywriter can help with. Whether you produce PDF brochures, printed catalogues or both, a skilled copywriter with experience writing for different marketing media, really could be your new best digital marketing friend.
Here's a summary of the main types of copywriring that I do for the watch industry:
Unfortunately, writing for the web and other digital media, be it articles on watch history or product descriptions, isn't as easy as simply transferring brochure copy to a digital platform. But it is important, because successful engagement with your human customers and the search engines depends on it.
So the new awareness of the digital space is where it's at for luxury watch brands or watch businesses that aspire to be luxury brands. A thought: does luxury really start at CHF 7,000 as François-Henri Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, wrote in Europa Star? Or is it a relative concept, meaning that for someone raised on Seiko 5 watches, upgrading to a £750 Certina, or even a pre-owned Omega Seamaster, is a move into 'luxury watches'?
Whatever 'luxury watch means, watch buyers clearly want to read well-written 'deep work' watch articles online as they reach their decisions. Furthermore, in a Google-dominated search environment, duplicate copy (particularly with product descriptions, is a recipe for digital disaster. The opportunity for digital copywriters like myself? Aside from crafting watch brands' initial product descriptions, it lies in adapting such descriptions into unique product copy that simultaneously presents the required information and engages with humans and search engines online.
Whether printed in Revolution, QP or WatchTime, or online, copy-light conceptual ads will undoubtedly keep playing their part in persuading prospective watch buyers to click 'Buy' or head to their Omega or Rolex AD. But those same brands and the ecosystem of businesses distributing their new and second-hand watches increasingly use digital marketing. If Deloitte are to be believed, the tipping point has finally come and luxury watch brands will henceforth harness the power of ecommerce websites, high-quality online articles and engaging product descriptions more fully. And with unprecedented awareness of digital marketing's (and digital copywriting's) possibilities for pre-and post-purchase customer engagement. And that includes informative, well-written digital articles....
The digital marketing paradigm shift in luxury watch marketing creates exciting opportunity for copywriters who understand the subtleties of writing for the web – and the enlightened luxury watch brands that engage their services. What's more, for watch industry copywriters like me with skills in digital and traditional writing, the opportunities (and benefits for you as a purveyor of new, pre-owned or vintage luxury watches) are even greater. Writing well for digital, and being able to research and write meaningfully about 1930s Fliegeruhren or 1950s military dive watches, isn't everyone's thing. I often encounter agencies with access to conceptual copywriters but not the skill sets to confidently tackle online writing, technical copywriting or a combination of both.
Now imagine the benefits of adding well-written luxury watch history articles to attract and retain visitors to your website. And the time and effort it would take you or your team to attempt this, especially with all those other business tasks competing for your attention as you build your luxury watch business... Fortunately, I can help.
I'm not just a watch writer with several years' experience writing about everything from James Bond NATO straps luxury motor racing chronographs and Baselworld. As an experienced marketer, PR practitioner, technical writer and copywriter, I've grown up with writing for the digital space – after writing for conventional media.
Now add my new, still-unjaded fascination with luxury watches (I came to the watch industry late). Combine it with an interest in, and growing knowledge of, writing for watch brands and luxury watch brands. Then top off with fluency in the main types of digital writing: blog posts; think pieces; detailed, painstakingly researched articles on watches and watch history; human and search-engine friendly product descriptions; press releases; trade press articles... You get the picture.
To prove that I walk the horological walk as well as talking the talk, here's a selection of what I write, ranging from a post-Baselworld 2017 round-up to in-depth articles on pilot watches and writing about famous luxury watches such as the iconic Breitling Navitimer.
And finally, before I suggest that we have a chat about your luxury watch-business copywriting requirement, back to Jay Deshpande's article in Europa Star. He concludes by quoting Bulgari CEO, Jean-Christophe Babin as the latter talks about the ongoing complementarity of bricks and mortar luxury watch stores and digital marketing.
Here's a fact: from the first sniff of interest in a luxury watch brand, to the point of purchase – in store or online – skilled luxury watch writing is more important than ever for engaging our customers. One of the few things I don't write is heavyweight conceptual advertising for the luxury watch industry. But what I'm told I do well is digital writing that defines and differentiates brands and persuades buyers to progress their customer journey. Given the luxury watch industry's copywriting troika of conceptual ad writing, printed brochures and digital writing, I reckon hitting two out of three is pretty good.
Maybe your watch business is a growing microbrand developing entry level luxury watches? Or perhaps you're a retailer for major luxury watch brands? Or a specialist vintage watch reseller in the Cotswolds who needs a luxury watch blogger? Or maybe even a Swiss luxury watch brand (or their marketing agency). Could you or your client use some help in the exciting digital marketing space?
Whatever the luxury watch writing challenge you face, when words must work harder in this new, maybe unfamiliar, digital space (or in print), we should talk about copywriting and luxury watches.
Do you need to get writing about watches off your to-do list? Click the image below...
Watch Industry Copywriter for the Uchi Horology Series of timepiece art prints and clothing
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