Don’t Forget The Batteries

Michael Hume - Word Play logo

March, 2023 * Volume III, Number 3

Dear Considerate Reader,

Know what’s really cool? Battery-powered robots. Know what else? This edition of your favorite news-free email newsletter, Word PLAY! And it’s here, now!

In this edition, we talk about how ungrateful some kids can be when they get certain toys at Christmas. Also, we touch on the notion of making things easier on your beloved customers.


Joking aside, THANK YOU for reading, and for making Firewords Creative Copy your go-to source for the words that win and the funny that makes money. I am humbled by your support, and seriously grateful for your business.

- Michael

Michael D. Hume, M.S.
Senior Author and Box Mangler
Firewords Creative Copy

Meanwhile, in this edition of Word PLAY...

Don't Forget The Batteries

Word PLAY… Playful Monthly Commentary
On Persuasive Copy For YOUR Business

One of the very-few bummers I encountered during my blissful childhood was when you opened up a neato new toy on Christmas morning, only to find that the thing doesn’t “go” until you install batteries… and Santa didn’t think to provide any.

The words “Batteries Not Included” were featured on the packaging for many a toy back in the day, and no doubt the copywriter who first concocted that phrase left behind a lucrative estate.

I was recently reminded of this particular bummer when I tried to open a cardboard carton containing a case of my favorite sugar-free soft drink. “How in the world,” you might ask, “did THAT remind you of having to wait until the stores opened and Santa made it to the battery aisle, decades ago?”

Even if you might not ask that, I’ll tell you: It’s because the people who packaged that pop didn’t give any more thought to how the customer (me) would USE their product than did the manufacturers of those battery-powered toys.

You get a battery-powered toy, you’re gonna need batteries. And you buy a case of pop, you’re gonna need to open the thing.

In this case, the manufacturer must’ve rolled the box in carpenter’s glue, or something, because it could NOT be opened neatly. I finally had to rip the thing open. In fact, I had to use a handy Sharp Object (scissors) to make enough of a hole in the thing to get my fingers inside for the aforementioned ripping.

This naturally caused me to puncture one of the cans inside the box, creating a mess that my wife never found out about. So far.

You know me – my sarcastic mind began creating a story about what happened back at the manufacturer, possibly during their annual awards banquet at the end of last year.

“And I’d like to give a special congratulatory award to Team Glue,” I could hear the CEO saying, “for going above-and-beyond in their sealing of our last several truckloads of product. Way to GO, Team Glue! Bonuses all around!”

True, that box was NOT going to pop open in transit. In fact, it seemed to have its own iron will in resisting being opened at all.

What’s the lesson for those of us marketing our businesses? Simple: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and think about how they will use your product or service. Make it easy.

Include the batteries!

Have you noticed how some products actually DO include the batteries these days? Smart.

I write lightly-humorous marketing copy for my clients. I have what many have described as Mad Skills when it comes to such writing.

But I don’t know doo-dah about the other pieces of the puzzle my clients need to actually get my brilliant words out to their adoring public. Graphics… formatting… email list maintenance… distribution… website curation… stat tracking… yada, yada, yada.

So I have partnerships with experts in these areas, ready to refer to my clients if they need help with any of these parts of the process. Some do, some don’t.

I know, I know, some copywriters actually learn how to do these other things, and they offer the complete package. That’s smart! Nothing wrong with it.

My approach, though, is to stay in the copywriting lane, and thereby keep my fees ridiculously low so that my clients have money left over to pay my partners for those services (unless they can do those things themselves, in-house).

My thinking here is that not all of my clients need all of those services from outside “vendors” like me. So if I can save them money by charging them only for my distinctively-genius services, all the better.

The point, if any, is this: I want to make sure I’m thinking about how my clients will actually use the copy I create. I try not to focus exclusively inward, on what I do, but also put myself in my client’s shoes, and provide everything they need to use my work.

And now, back to work. As soon as I can figure out how to open this can. Have you seen my scissors?

Key Take-Aways From This Edition

  • Don’t get caught focusing only on yourself and your work – think about how your customers will use your work.
  • Santa sure could’ve read that box before wrapping it, and could’ve brought me some dang batteries.
  • If you can’t provide every piece of your customer’s “experience,” find partners who can supply what you don’t offer.
  • Christmas should be a time for remembering the Reason For The Season with family and friends, not for complaining about something as worldly and foolish as batteries. Just be glad you got something. Play with the box. Next year, it could be a lump of coal. Think about THAT, young man.
  • Never use scissors to open a case box of pop. Unless you’re good at it.

How about THOSE for Key Take-Aways? Super Key, I know. But just think how Key next month’s Take-Aways might be! I, for one, can hardly wait.


Discussion Questions

  1. 1
    Invent an electronic device which easily opens the most glue-lacquered carboard box. Include the batteries
  2. 2
    What do you suppose Team Glue received as a congratulatory award?
  3. 3
    Is this a good time to reflect on how your customers actually use your product or service, and on whether you’re doing everything you can to make it easy for them?

Send your answers to The most creative, inspirational response will be eligible to win a PRIZE! *

(* Prize is at the sole discretion of Michael Hume, his heirs and assigns, and a select committee of battery-operated robots. Man, they’re cool. This month’s top prize may be your choice of a case of sugar-free pop or a box of batteries. It might also be something completely different, while supplies last. Members of Team Glue, past, present, and future, are ineligible. Your odds of winning increase when you enter. Deadlines are for losers. Except Santa: He has a MAJOR deadline every year, and he never misses it. Even if he misses the batteries! Boring, lackluster, or unimaginative entries have no chance of winning, and may be stabbed mercilessly with scissors. Avoid this by keeping it lively. Good luck!)

Last Month’s Grand Prize Winner: Michelle B. of Littleton, Colorado won with this: “I have avuncular love for my nephew… he’s delightful. So is your newsletter.” The judges just couldn’t resist this! Call before midnight yesterday to claim your prize, if any. As for the rest of you, just think: YOU could be next month’s winner!

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I write HUME-orous marketing copy for happy clients who take their professions very seriously… but whose customers like and trust them because they don’t take themselves too seriously. Want more info? Get in touch…

Call me: (303) 478-8702
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Help me open this box: 195 South Rancho Vista Drive, Pueblo West, CO 81007

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Copyright 2022 by Michael D. Hume, M.S. All rights reserved.
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FireWords Creative Copy, 195 South Rancho Vista Drive , Pueblo West, CO 81007, United States

Michael D. Hume, M.S.

Michael Hume is a freelance writer, singer, and songwriter, and author of The 95th Christmas. He's an honor graduate of the Defense Information School, and holds an M.S. from the University of Colorado School of Business. Michael is the author of hundreds of online articles, including the popular series Great Leadership Requires Inspiration, The Conscience of a Restorationist, Appreciate Your Adversaries, and Take Care of Your Business.

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