Writers need champions like Andy Greenway, executive creative director at Dentsu Singapore. He’s a person who believes deeply in the power of writing to change the course of a business and the world for the better.
“Great writing is the foundation of progress,” he posits. Greenway also argues that “A great creative agency is built on the back of its superior writing ability. Writing that makes a difference. A multi-billion-dollar difference.”
Greenway’s point about the financial value of great copy is well made. It’s also something that all copywriters of merit want to keep in mind during negotiations for a job or on a project with a client.
When it’s my turn to do so, I like to point out to clients how the shorter the copy is, the harder and more expensive it is to produce. For instance, “Think Different” for Apple and “Just Do It” for Nike define these brands and move millions of people to buy.
There’s simply no way to put an honest price tag on these lines. Whatever the agency charged it was way too little.
Real Writers Turn Words Into Money
Greenway, as many others have done, points to the dearth of high quality writing in advertising today. Which makes no sense to him, or to me, or to anyone who doesn’t count beans (or worship at data’s alter) for a living.
Marketing is a key driver of the world economy. A good marketing team, armed with their writing ability, begin to carefully craft words that will set the brand apart. They write their strategy, outlining the challenges the brand faces and the opportunities it can seize upon. Every word is precise, carefully chosen to ensure the brand is given the best chance of succeeding. Its positioning. Its personality. Its message.
A key point here is how business writing is both an input (that fuels the strategic process) and an output. In both clear, concise writing is required. Sadly, professional writing of all sorts routinely misses the mark.
Author Josh Bernoff reports that American workers spend 22 percent of their work time reading. According to his analysis, American workers also spend six percent of their time attempting to get meaning out of poorly written material. This adds up to a multi-billion dollar drag on the economy, every year, all because of poor writing.
But, Everyone’s A Writer…
Operating a QWERTY keyboard all day does not make one a writer. Typing is not writing.
Did you know that Dutch painters used to apprentice with a master painter for six years before they were able to join a guild and work as a painter? I highly recommend that aspiring writers who want to make their mark in advertising find a way to do the same. Even if you get the job first (and it’s likely that you will), the need to apprentice remains. Find a mentor and learn.
When it comes to hiring writers, for best results, the same level of scrutiny and rigor must apply. The ad industry has no guild, and no professional standards, which would help guide the hiring and vetting process. In lieu of these important structures, a client or hiring manager will learn to weed out the few pros from the many charlatans, or turn to trusted sources.
If you are not sure where to look, I am happy to help point you in the right direction. I work as a writer and I know many other writers who are ready to take on projects. Some may even be open to mentorship.
And I manage a private Facebook group called Better Copy By Design. Click here and ask to join.
p.s. Typing Is Easy, Writing Is Hard
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” -Ernest Hemingway
That’s strong advice from a prose master. Let’s see one true sentence at work. In 1915, Coca-Cola challenged glass companies to develop a “bottle so distinct that you would recognize it by feeling in the dark or lying broken on the ground.” Inspired by the shape and lines of the cocoa bean, the Root Glass Company in Indiana developed a bottle concept that would become the distinctive Coca-Cola bottle.
Without the insight and clarity of the written request, the iconic bottle could not have been born.