Thursday, February 19, 2009

You Are Not a Writer

"I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters." -- Solomon Short

I wish that I could write like Thomas Paine. His words, distributed through pamphlets and newspaper editorials, inflamed and inspired an entire colony to create a nation. The words still resonate today.

But I am not Thomas Paine. My writing is geared toward purposes that are more “commonplace” than “Common Sense.” Still, in my own small way, my writing is effective. I am proud to say that I am an advertising copywriter. And you are not.

Please don’t think I am tooting my own horn, or trying to drum up more business. I just want to point out that writing good copy for your company’s ads, brochures, newsletters, web site or fliers is HARD WORK.

It takes years of experience to understand the nuances of crafting a headline that attracts attention. Thousands of hours of practice to create a compelling tale about your product or service that tells the whole story in just a few short sentences or paragraphs. Intimate knowledge of language and psychology to write a “call to action” that gets people to act.

Yet every day, company owners and managers who attended business school, or came up through the accounting department, or who recently climbed down off a ladder or out of a truck cab; think they can sit down and dash off a winning composition that will sell millions of their widgets to an eager public.

Do yourself a favor. By all means write down your thoughts, identify the key selling points of your product, record the reasons you think people are buying from you now. Then hand your notes over to a professional who can take these rough components and craft them into a masterpiece of brevity and persuasive language.

You may not start a revolution. But you just might see a better return on your marketing dollar.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes! You are so right about this. And, it holds true for photography, illustration, graphic design, plumbing...

    Just because you read the manual doesn't mean you are the expert.