Creative Services

Writing and Full Creative Services

graphic of various print pieces

Businesses are sold on Ardito Creative Enterprises (ACE), not just because Jim Ardito’s copy has style, intelligence and zing, but because it does its thing — selling the hell (okay heck) out of your product or service.

Jim has put his copy skills to work for over 1,000 clients (huge and small), across 25 writing mediums from Websites, digital (and regular) print, to concepts and taglines. Communication categories run the gamut from B2B, B2C, DTP and DTC, delivered ASAP from sea to shining sea.

Check the mediums we’ve mastered, industries served, samples and (NS)FAQs — Not-So-Frequently-Asked Questions about working with Jim and ACE at heavenly prices that may surprise the heck out of you. Get fired up to contact us now!


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Why Branding and Sales Work Like a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Luscious PP&J Harmony

Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss branding and sales with a few business owners at a networking meeting at Ebb and Flo’s Watering Hole. The consensus among the irregular regulars, a few of whom own businesses, was that during a tough economy it made more sense to forego soft marketing efforts including branding, in favor of hard and direct efforts to beef up sales.

I found this thinking as difficult to swallow as an entire Ebb& Flo’s hardboiled egg. I believe,  that emphasizing sales versus branding is not a savvy and sustainable marketing strategy and could adversely affect growth. What about the daily dose of fiber that a complete marketing effort offers? What about the sustenance of branding as part of a nutritious, well-balanced marketing plan?”

Well, let’s analyze the situation. The kind of branding I’m talking about extends to social media marketing where you’re really not trying to sell something except your brand image. This includes posts on Facebook and LinkedIn, Instagram and particularly blogs. Blogs, especially in the time of Covid, are supposed to be helpful and not self-serving. We’re looking at “noble” blogs with titles like, “6 ways the pandemic saved my marriage” and “Why we give all our earnings to the sustainable tuna foundation.”

Brand image marketing creates loyalty, differentiation, credibility, and the incentive to buy. It fills two of the criteria in the magical triad of the sales process: making your brand known and likable – you have to earn trust.  Hard selling generates sales and purchases too, which is hardly news to you or salespeople. They’re out there every day, making cold calls and trying to warm up potential clients so they can close a deal.

The distinction between these two parts of your marketing mix is that branding, whether online or delivered by other communication vehicles is a long-term process that takes a while to make its sale. Direct, hard-core selling has much more of an immediate impact and can generate instant results. This is in part because salespeople can sit down face-to-face (or mask to mask) with clients and not only sell the big brand picture, but use on the spot, hot tricks of the trade, like price reductions, perks for buying today, creating a sense of urgency and whatever else closing takes.

The truth is we need sales and branding to work together hand-in-hand to reach our target markets and corporate objectives. When we decide to focus on one and ignore the other it’s like peanut butter and jelly. You can eat them separately and they’re good,  but they’re so much better together as a layered, tiered, and luscious sandwich.

What we need to do is recognize the distinct differences of these marketing tools, in terms of timing, mindset and creative approach, to name a few distinctions. But we also have to recognize and applaud their commonalities. Ultimately, branding and sales have the same goals: raising the bottom line and increasing profits and growth. They’re simply on different parts of the marketing menu, that’s all.

Shouldn’t we consider these elements as equally important? Shouldn’t we be thinking short and long term?

Small businesses can’t afford to favor immediate savings at the expense of brand image and brand building. It may look good on the books at the moment, but this kind of marketing approach can be unappetizing and costly over time.

Luckily, you can have both without sacrificing anything with Ardito Creative. Enterprises because we do brand imaging marketing and direct selling simultaneously,  kind of like walking and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the same time. Here’s something else that social media/branding campaigns offer:  using mediums like Facebook, Linkedln In, Twitter, and Instagram can be quick, integrated and easy. Best of all, you can sustain your branding efforts for peanuts while Sales sail on. Everyone’s happy and everything’s in harmony like a good, old PP&J.

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Do it Now! Don’t Miss Out.  Act Instantly to Learn How the Perfect Call to Action (CTA) Can Change Your Life, Make You Rich, and Worshipped by Millions!

We all know that Calls to Action (CTAs) make or break your marketing campaign. CTAs create a sense of urgency and get people to buy whatever you’re selling NOW!

CTAs are so holy in the business world, they’re like religions. They want to create conversions. (Bless them).  Before we dig in, let’s define our terms.

According to the usual reliable sources, a CTA is a written directive that helps encourage readers to take a desired action. CTAs can take different forms:

  • A hyperlink in the text
  • A button
  • Plain text without a link

They’re usually short – a couple of words like “Don’t Wait” or “Contact Us,” but they can also be longer and contain a reason to act, like” sign up today.” Or on a stranger note, they can present consequences if you don’t act!  Here’s a wonderful example from a while back that caused quite a stir. It was National Lampoon’s cover that said, “Buy this magazine or we’ll shoot this dog!” It was a bit cruel, but sold a lot of magazines. People woofed them up.

So, what are the elements of a great call to action?

  1. As noted already, you need to create a sense of urgency. This is all about FOMO — “Fear of Missing Out!”

 “Offer expires midnight Saturday.” “Act today, save an extra 10%.” “If you don’t buy, my boss will fire me and my wife,  kids and I will have to live in a car!”
2. Use strong action words (the ones noted above will do).

  • Add numbers: “Buy now and get 90% off!”   
  • Add adjectives: “Find your dream human being with us!”
  •  Make a promise: “Lose 10 lbs. in 10 minutes with “WeightLess,” the pill that reduces gravity not you!!” 
  • Play up your USP (Unique Selling Proposition): “Order our nature-made lava soaps now!”
  • Evoke family connections like your Godfather – “Make them an offer they can’t refuse!”

Calls To Action for Different Mediums

Different mediums have their own language in terms of Calls to Action. Writing CTAs for Social Media Medias. Here’s a chart from Hootsuite, a great (though expensive) tool for managing social media.

Most Common PurposeCTAs
EcommerceBuy, Shop, Order, Reserve, Save, Add to Cart, Pick, View
Non-profit conversionDonate, Commit, Volunteer, Adopt, Give, Support
Newsletter or communitySubscribe, Join, Sign Up, Refer,
Freebie giveawayDownload, Get, Grab, Claim, Take advantage of
GeneralLearn More, See More, See How, Start, Find Out, Check it Out, Click here, Continue, Swipe Up,

 On landing pages and the home page of your website, you’ll want to make sure that the CTA

button meets the following criteria:

  • It uses contrasting colors to jump out at the user.
  • It’s has a clickable button designed to improve navigation.
  • It utilizes brief copy on the button itself but is often surrounded by copy that adds context and makes it more persuasive.
  • It should appear above the fold on the page, meaning that users can see at least one CTA button before they’d need to scroll down to see more information on the page. Make sure you take this into account on both desktop and mobile sites.

When you’re creating landing pages and site pages, remember to test them. Most people don’t realize that you can test site pages just like you would PPC campaigns when you’re using tools like Unbounce. Test even different colored buttons. Look for what works best, and optimize your pages accordingly.

Cest tous, C’est fini for this month.  BTW, did you know the French have no word for “rendezvous?” Just a thought.

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Jim Ardito always gives you your…
“WORDSWORTH”

an image of Wordsworth

Welcome to my blog you wonderful readers! In this case, it’s a blog/article or a “bloglical,” which is a coined phase that clearly makes little sense or cents. What’s the matter with you and the rest of us? One cause may be the electronic malady known as “Poor e-mail open rate,” an affliction spreading like (what’s the appropriate term?), oh yes, “crazy,” since we all receives dozens of e-mails a day.

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Ain’t Ever Seen it Like This

goofy eyes graphic

It’s downright weird when you consider the incredibly bad weather that has shown up in my life whenever I leave town and especially on fishing trips. I used to blame my fishing buddies, Stu Schwartz and Rick Roberts for this, which is absurd. Stu and Rick are not to blame. Howard Mullen is. This is because, as the organizer of these fishing excursions (bless him), Howard always picks the first week of June for our trips. Why? Because that’s the week the bass are supposed to be spawning and will strike out at anything (see what parenthood does)? We’ve never actually caught them spawning and wouldn’t know if we did since we can’t see more than two feet from the boat because it’s raining, snowing, or a typhoon is slapping us silly.

Locals are amazed that’s it’s snowing in July in Canada, flooding in New Mexico, or hailing in Arkansas in April. But that’s not the worst of it. Some fishing guide we’ve hired (who doesn’t dare go out in the Perfect Storm) or the guy at the bait shop will invariably voice his opinion about the bizarre weather by uttering the six words I hate most in fishing, Ain’t ever seen it like this.

Sometimes they offer variations on this theme such as, Ain’t seen it like this in 40 years, or Ain’t even seen it this bad. Semantics may vary, but the meaning’s the same: the bass will take a pass, the pike will take a hike and the final analysis will be that the fishing smelt. To make matters worse, guides show us photos of the usual catch at that time of year. I look at these pictures and say, Wait a minute, are those whales? No, of course, they’re not. They’re simply bass the size of whales!

And that’s just sucky weather having to do with fishing trips. Bad weather has also struck on vacations, family visits, and business trips. In Boston once, the fog rolled in so bad, we didn’t know if we were visiting my sister’s family or my brother’s. It turned out we were visiting my brother’s next door neighbor.

We rented a cottage in Cape Hatteras with our friends Jane and Joel. It rained 9 of the 14 days we were there. Two times that we visited Jamaica, my wife, Merry Juell and I hit hurricanes. One was a near miss, the other a direct hit, which wrecked our favorite Island and the trip.

I know that into each life a little rain must fall, but must it always be on my trips? I’ve always whined about this, until my wife offered another idea. Perhaps, she noted, You take the tempest with you packed into your suitcase along with your underwear. If this is the case, I argued, how would I get through security? I can see the TSA agent now. ‘ Sorry, buddy, you’re only allowed three ounces of fluid, this tsunami in your suitcase has got to go.’Her theory makes sense, however. Wherever you’re headed, it’s hard to leave a stormy soul behind and that defines me to a tee. It wasn’t always the case. In my younger and slicker years, stormy times used to roll off me a lot easier. Now, raindrops leave dents.

But I don’t have to accept this, right? After all, isn’t it just matter of attitude? I could just accept my tempestuous nature as a welcome part of who I am and the storms as a constant test of how well I can do through the lightning cracks, thunderclaps and twisters of everyday life. Yeah, I could do that and the next time I’m on a fishing trip with my buddies and it’s snowing in July, I could raise both hands up high in defiance of the weather gods and shout, Go ahead, Gods, lay it on me! It doesn’t matter anymore because, thanks to my wife, I’ve got a new attitude and I ain’t ever seen life like this! Yeah, I could do that, if I weren’t so worried about dropping my rod and not catching fish!

Linguini con Vongole (Linguini With Some Damn Good Clams)

With a new positive attitude, I’m coming out of my shell to announce this is my favorite fish dish in the world and this recipe is good, only exceeded by the linguini with clams I order at LaScarola Restaurant in Chicago. I’ve studied their dish when it arrives, which may look weird to my waiter. They may add lightly sautÈed shallots. The jury is out. The taste is incredible. People may look at what you’ve prepared and say, I ain’t ever seen it like this, but these are probably people who never go out.

What It Takes

  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 5 cloves unclothed garlic (minced)
  • Salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes to taste, not too much salt
  • Cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 dozen whole clams (optional, but recommended)
  • 2 cans whole baby clams
  • Plus 1 can chopped (not minced) clams (Walgreen’s has ’em and so do stores)

How You Make

If you’re using fresh clams, steam them in 1 cup of seasoned water (pepper, no salt) until they open. Let them cool. Chop half up and reserve six for presentation. Save the clam juice. Meanwhile, fry the garlic in the oil in a quart-size pan. Wham bam, add all the clams and all the juice, including reserved stuff. Add touch of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, wine and parsley. If you like parsley don’t add it partially, add a lot! Cook ’til bubbling then pour over al dente linguini. That’s it. This dish could not be easier, simpler, or cheaper. That’s why it amazes me when restaurants charge $15.00 or more. That’s nuts. It’s so delicious it should be served free!

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How Not to Lose Them at Hello

10 Ways to Engage, Wed and Never Divorce Website Visitors

Don’t pull a reverse Jerry McQuire and lose web visitors at hello. You want to engage them instantly, “act now,” “contact you immediately,” order that lawn gnome, enroll in your yoga class. or whatever. Here are 10 things to to do to ensure a loving, long term relationship with someone who drops in for a website visit.

  • Make your identity a memorable entity. You should have a tagline at the top of the page that is also position and establishes a brand personality. Tall order? Not for little Jim Ardito at ACE
  • Use “You” out the wazoo. Always think “second person first” You are going to appreciate plumbers flushed with pride at the thought of pleasing you
  • Engage the visitor from the word “go,” which means using verbs and action words that transfer energy and liveliness to your brand
  • Tattoo WFFIT on your forehead so you remember to note benefits (vs features) and fill content with “What’s In It for Them”
  • Make content clever, smart, or even somewhat humorous if that’s appropriate for the brand (funeral homes not so much)
  • Seem different, sound different, be different with content that’s not trite
  • Be human. Lawyers, financial planners, insurance agents, r u listening? Lift yourself from a sea of sameness like my client, estate planner, Regina Rathnau  whose tagline is “You can take it with you” — (peace of mind knowing your estate is professionally handled)
  • Keep it readable ; it’s unbeatable. Content should n short, crisp headlines and sentences, bullet points, subheads, paragraphs of 100 words or less, and simple unobfuscated words, n’est ce pas? (Ha)
  • Tell a story. Present success stories, customer-love stories, even horror stories. Your blog could contain “Insurance horror stories?” or “Real Real-Estate nightmares?” Great stuff. Must reads for all
  • Be personable. I personally think interjecting yourself –your passion, your commitment, your hands-on involvement in the company makes a connection that is invaluable.

That’s it. Easy peasy? Well, if not, we know somebody who simply love to edit content and give you your Wordsworth and then some every time. Give us a call at 847-902-6562.

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Boost your e-mail open-rate like crazy

email open rates graphic

Why should someone open your e-mail versus a 20% Door Buster from Old Navy?

Because you’ve learned tricks of the writing trade offered by Wordsworth (and many blogger contemporaries). You’ve paid attention to the first rule of e-mail success:


Here are 4 More Click-through Rules of Thumb: (with more to come)

  1. Start with an awesome subject matter line. Nothing else matters, really. If your e-mail doesn’t get opened, the door is shut no matter what you’re saying or selling. And it’s shut a lot according to this survey:

  2. Keep the characters short–only 28 to 29 characters is recommend, which is not a ton to work. Here are stats showing open rate and click through rates by subject line length.
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5 Things to Never Say to a Writer

picture of frightened woman

And, Conversely, How to Wrap a Writer Around Your Finger

It’s very hairy and scary for me as a writer when I hear any of the following things from my clients. These are in descending order of horror. Also, don’t go away because part