We all speak English. I just happen to do it for a living.

Rant: The Marketing You Deserve

Posted: September 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: copywriting tips, management | No Comments »

Q: How many copywriters does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None, because we’re not changing anything!

I love that joke because, frankly, most copywriters are all sharp elbows and big egos. They’ve sweated through it, considered the angles, and now you want to change it? Are you crazy?

Writing isn’t easy. Staring at your screen until your fingertips bleed isn’t easy. But after a few days of scribbling and not sleeping, ¬†you arrive at a few headlines that delight the imaginary focus group in your head. Probably a headline that was, as Pulitizer said, short enough they’ll read it, clear enough they’ll appreciate it, picturesque enough it they’ll remember it, and accurate enough that they’ll be guided by its light.

Then some “product expert” comes along and wants to pin a hot-pink starburst ribbon on it that hollers, “Paradigm-Shifting ROI Optimization Solution.”

Your works suffers from then on. Because instead of focusing on clarity and amazingness, you get distracted by gaming your boss. You take your eye off the ball. You start mailing it in because you get worn down from having to explain the obvious: no one knows what the fuck a paradigm-shifting ROI optimization solution is.

I refer to this as “the marketing you deserve.” It’s the marketing your schmucky boss deserves for being a dumbass. And it’s the marketing that I, the now-lazy copywriter, also deserve for allowing myself to get brow-beaten into giving up creativity. And that’s usually when the portfolio gets sharpened up and I start buying former co-workers beers to find a new gig.

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