Would the real copywriter please stand up?
In a world of SEO (dead or not) and the immediacy of content-to-consumer needed, there seems to be more copy needed than copywriters out there. Never fear, for an article titled How to get high-performance sales copy without hiring a copywriter hit the blogosphere recently.
Information like this is priceless and will change the future for Laquisha, the envelope filling entrepreneur, Donathan's Christmas present opening startup or aunty Martha who believes that her smoked haddock air freshener range is going to make a mint. It's easy, you see? This white paper on our profession by Christina Gillick says that readers make good writers, so if you read a lot, you can do your own copywriting.
Everyone's a writer
I arrived at the New Zealand Chiefs Super 15 practice. They asked what I was doing there before I explained that I'd watched a few games on the telly, was a fan of the scrum and always fancied being the guy they throw in the air in the lineout. Naturally, they showed me to my locker right away, kitted me out with my costume and we won the tournament. Hoorah! Anyone can do it, right?
Not really. So would you sit down at the latest iMac complete with state-of-the-art spectroradiometers and design your own corporate identity? Quickly go and read a lot so that you could write you own objective-driven copy or sew yourself a tuxedo for that promotion-to-CEO gala dinner? You could certainly try - everyone loves a guy with a sense of humour.
I can count on my hands the amount of times I have read something and said "Holy shitballs Mom! I wish I'd written that!" - yet it would take you more than a day to count all the people in our industry who are calling themselves writers. Then try vetting them... that should blow your hair back.
I Googled one Christina Gillick and found a lovely picture of her lying under the tree with her laptop, working - obviously. It was titled: "Christina Gillick enjoying the writer's life at her quiet country home in Texas."
They must do things differently in Texas because, let's be honest, writing is anything but quiet-time. It's as deadline-driven as any job and usually involves at least nine other voices in your own head before the first word has hit the page. But I'm down when it comes to helpful tips, so anytime I have to produce any high-performance sales copy, I'm heading for a tree in Texas.
Supply and demand
Fact is, more and more people are looking for (competent) content generators. However - and whether it comes down to a budget or the urgency pandemic - the entry barrier at many agencies into these roles is not exactly up there with the bar exam. And if you believe that these agency roles are no science, then you may be part of the problem - there's no avoiding the fact that writing decent, engaging copy is not for everyone.
Someone who kinda sorta maybe enjoyed English in High School isn't necessarily the right talent for this work. What should be important to agency owners and clients alike is not necessarily finding someone with a Masters in English, but someone who has a natural talent mixed with an undeniable passion for their craft and a body of work that demonstrates such. There's your candidate.
Has copywriting lost its heart?
Not entirely. But very often, the diluted skill-set in a room that determines the direction of a brand forgets the importance of stories. We all need stories that prompt us to feel something, and be inspired or motived by. Whether these are seen on TV, heard on radio, watched in a taxi or at the rank, interpreted across a series of billboards and reinforced with what we engaged with online once we got to the office, seen in a double page spread, advertorial, blog or TTL campaign - people need something to latch on to.
What good is content that popped up first on your search but did absolutely nothing for you after that? And to tell stories by mastering his craft, a writer needs to be able to see something different about the world around him; to understand that the resonant power of writing is in the magic of how 26 letters are arranged together and that there is nothing coincidental about this.
There really are no sneaky tricks, nor are there quick fixes. If you want copy that moves and motivates while delivering on the brief, find a talented, passionate writer that loves to write. That's all there is to it. Failing that, you could be master of all (none) and use Google to teach you how to do it all yourself. While you're at it, you can learn how to remove warts, how to design a poster, how to be a good wife, how to become a vampire, how to strategic plan and how to find the best tree to lie under when needing to produce high-performance sales copy.
The list is long, how much time do you have?
About Dylan Balkind
Even the person who can sell ice to Eskimos needs have a way of letting the world know. Words. They're wonderful warriors with the potential for worry. Use a writer who takes his passion seriously. Here's more about me and mine: http://goo.gl/68Rsse
| Twitter @DylanBalkind