Holly Gonzalez Marketing & Copywriting

Smart, sophisticated copy that sells.

Tag Archives: Copywriting


Photo by Leong Lok on Unsplash

Diving into the world of online dating has me thinking two things: 1) I’m too old for this shit, and 2) I should definitely be writing down all these bad date experiences. Like the guy who showed up with his caregiver in tow. Turns out there were a few details that he failed to disclose, including but not limited to the fact that he was “in between dentist appointments,” having had all his teeth pulled to be fitted for dentures, and that he’d had a stroke (hence the caregiver driving him to our date.). Or the lovely man who just happened to be a wheelchair, which you know, I would have known had I swiped through all of his photos. There are more, actually many many more, but you get the gist. What the hell does this have to do with copywriting? As a matter of fact, a couple of things.

It’s not about you. It’s never about you.

Whether someone never messages you back, or fails to ask you out again, I swear, it’s about them. People want what they want, and you can’t legislate what floats your boat. And that’s also the secret to great copywriting—stop making it about what you want to write, and focus instead on taking the client’s ideas and zhooshing them up. Make it about them, not you.

The more information you have, the better.

Ask questions, do research, and realize that both prospective dates and clients don’t always reveal all the information you need to move forward. Better writing is the product of more in-depth sleuthing—the more you know about their product, service, target audience, competitors and brand personality, the easier the writing will come to you. As for googling your dates? It’s always nice to know about that felony before you start going out with someone.

Profiles and headlines: more alike than you’d think.

Whether you want someone to swipe right or click through, your message has the same goal. In just a few well-chosen words, you’ve got to convince someone that they’d like to know more. It’s about being intriguing, getting someone’s attention and most importantly, being honest. Your headline should be more than just “catchy”; it’s got to ring true and be aligned with your client’s business goals.

Oh, finally, people are all about algorithms when it comes to both online dating and copywriting—and sure analytics are great, but ultimately it’s about making connection based on emotions—and that will always be much more of an art than a science.

Go Play Project: Day 11 | Blue Moon

go play project, 30 days of collage, creativity challenge, Billy Collins, super moon, forgetfulness, Holly Gonzalez

Go Play Project – Day 11

Last night was the super moon, and it really was spectacular, all low slung, bright and big. I adore Billy Collins, and as luck would have it, the moon shows up in several of his poems.

While the moon doesn’t have a “starring” role (see what I did there?) in this poem, the last two lines are quite lovely.



The name of the author is the first to go

followed obediently by the title, the plot,

the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel

which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,


as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor

decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,

to a little fishing village where there are no phones.


Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye

and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,

and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,


something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,

the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.


Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,

it is not poised on the tip of your tongue

or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.


It has floated away down a dark mythological river

whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall


well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those

who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.


No wonder you rise in the middle of the night

to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.

No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

— Billy Collins



Dash it all – Part 1


Image credit: Banjo Brown/flickr

I proof a ton of stuff for ad agencies, and it seems that even the best of them don’t always use the right dash in the right place. I figured a couple of blog posts might help when you need to know what goes where. Let’s start with hyphens.

Some, but not all compound words, are connected by hyphens. When in doubt, I check merriam-webster.




When you’ve got two or more words that serve a single adjective, use a hyphen. I write a lot about real estate and hospitality, so I’ll give you some examples that come up all the time:

10,000-square-foot ballroom


10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space

two-, three- and four-bedroom luxury suites (they are really into bedrooms)


luxury suites with two bedrooms

Use hyphens for compound numbers.

I got ninety-nine problems, but a hyphen ain’t one*

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?

Use hyphens to eliminate confusion, as with these words:

I re-sent the email (vs. I resent your implication that I never sent the email)

Could you re-sign this divorce agreement? (vs. I resign this shitty-ass job)

Use a hyphen with certain prefixes, such as ex-, self- and –all, and also between a prefix and a capitalized word, or with figures and letters.


ex-convict (psst, if you have to use both these ex’s in the same sentence, hyphens are the least of your problems)







Sure, there are plenty rules about hyphen usage, but these are the highlights, and the ones that seem to come up again and again.

Next week, I’ll be back with a riveting post about the en dash. Stay tuned.


I Write Like…

In case you missed this meme, it’s great fun. I Write Like is a website that lets you paste in an excerpt of your writing, and uses an algorithm to tell you which author’s writing yours most resembles. It’s fascinating stuff. Who doesn’t want to be told they write like David Foster Wallace or Kurt Vonnegut? Although some folks are mighty disappointed to learn that their choice of words mostly closely mirrored those of Stephanie Meyer and Dan Brown. And, imagine Margaret Atwood’s surprise when she pasted in a sample of her own writing, only to find she writes like… Stephen King. Interestingly, I plugged in a few excerpts from my “I get paid to write this” copy, and turned up H.P. Lovecraft. When I used a few random posts from this blog, it spit out Douglas Adams. Nice to know I’m part of the society of weird fiction writers. I couldn’t be happier. Just for kicks, I analyzed the lyrics to the Banana Splits theme song. Apparently, Cory Doctorow—science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger—could have written this gem!

Say “thank you” like you mean it.

I’ve received and given my share of client/vendor gifts. But none touched me in the way that a recent gift from longtime client Matrix2 Advertising did. They’re a Miami-based marketing agency (and a darn good one), and out of the blue, they sent me a personalized spiral-bound notebook with my name on the cover and in the corner of every page. Also on the cover is the quote: ‘Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but about how to dance in the rain.” It’s a lovely sentiment, and especially meaningful now—when marketing budgets are tight and clients are grim. But what really surprised and moved me was that on the first page, every member of the staff had taken the time to thank me personally. It was genius, really. They did so many things right. First, it wasn’t the obligatory holiday gift, lost amidst the other corporate gifts. Second, the personalization is always a winner. Who doesn’t love their name on stuff? Bonus points for the spiral-bound notebook—I confess to being a junkie for notebooks of all shapes and sizes. And the hand-written notes just sealed the deal. Feel free to steal this idea and adapt it to your clients. I know I will.

Don’t Forget the Serpent

Diana Vreeland

Diana Vreeland was the legendary Vogue editor who shaped fashion history like no one else.  Influential, opinionated and original, she was the essence of fabulous. Visionaire recently published a series of her staff memos. Cryptic, brilliant, like little haiku jewels, these staff memos were dictated to her assistant from Mrs. Vreeland’s bathroom (how’s that for multi-tasking?). Some of my favorites:

The serpent should be on all fingers and all wrists and all everywhere…
The serpent is the motif of the hour in jewelry…

Nothing gives the luxury of pearls. Please keep them in mind.

Let’s promote grey.
For everything.

So often clients want to cram copy with every product feature, selling point and offer detail. If you ever wanted evidence that spare, elegant language trumps bloated, superlative-laden writing, just read Mrs. Vreeland’s memos.