All Year’s Resolution: Do Not Be a Court Reporter
Stop rolling your eyes because this one of those damn New Year’s Resolution blogs. This is an All-Year’s Resolution. Totally different.
You’ll quit the gym, you’ll quit eating properly and you’ll quit “complaint free days,” but please, for the love of marketing, do not quit pursuing your curiousity and storytelling skills. (Unless you’re a hack, then good riddance.)
Note: if you’re short on time, just go here you lazy writer and get the cheat sheet.
If you’re not short on time, here’s my story:
So I recently returned from a business trip to New York, where I was interviewing a friend’s company to write a guidebook or sorts. Really cool story for another time. I talked to a lot of conversion optimization gurus and picked their brains and learned a ton.
Where this story gets interesting is upon my arrival back to Greenville. A colleague asked me about the trip, heard the story and then promptly called me a court reporter.
You know, those dudes at the front of the court room who look all serious and type crazyfast.
Of course, he honestly doesn’t think I sit down and type every single word from every single interview and then regurgitate back to the world. But, well, yeah, maybe he does.
The job of a copywriter is to open your arms as wide as you can and gather and devour a subject’s knowledge. Gather, devour, repeat. Think “gluttony.” Everything you can get your hands on. Matter of fact, I want someone to complain to you that you’ve asked for too much source documentation or you’ve asked too many questions. That’s when you know you’re on the right track.
Some days it’s about a lift truck. Or a Saas. Or a coffee company.
Whatever your subject is, you better damn well know it inside and out. But where we copywriters and idea creators differ from internal marketing departments is this:
[Tweet “Copywriters are experts for a finite period of time.”]
Why? Because we’re onto the next project. Most likely due ASAP.
Unlike internal marketing departments, copywriters juggle many brands. Sometimes, many in the same day. Or in the same hour. (I’ve written baseball lines, followed by hot dog lines, followed by commercial truck tire lines in the same hour.)
Uneducated marketers think that copywriters should know every single SKU and every slide from a company’s 145-page product launch PPT. Wrong. Copywriters need to engulf that PPT, yes, but our job is to distill only the most useful parts to create a story that resonates with the target audience.
Share your charts and graphs,, thank you very much, we’re here to add emotion to your rational sell.
Back to my New York trip.
Yes, I took 18 pages of notes, single spaced, from hours of interviews. But that’s not why I was invited. My friend invited me to take those notes and turn those notes into a compelling story that resonates with the target audience and makes them feel something, then do something.
So I read background material via books (many books), blogs, forums and follow-up interviews, repeatedly. I gathered and devoured is what I’m sayin’.
A copywriter is not a court reporter. It’s easy to fall into the court-reporting trap thanks to days of meetings and clients who want the same ol’, same ol’. But don’t give up.
Find that nugget and exploit it.
This year, vow to not be a court reporter. Make the rest of us look good, please.