Forget writer’s block: a copywriter’s greatest affliction is the ‘expert-ego’!
The downside to writing copy for lots of different companies is the tendency to sub-consciously inflate your own sense of expertise, you could call it an ‘expert-ego’! What I mean by that is because you immerse yourself so deeply in the subject matter that you are writing about you actually start to believe that you are an expert in it, at least for the duration of the project! For example, at the moment I am writing about a legal firm, a provider of terms and conditions, an interior design practice and a glass wholesaler so having studied these areas in great detail for all of a few months I feel, in my mind, that I am a leading expert on the Groceries Supply Code, retention of title, spatial planning and Lacobel decorative glass!
Of course, despite my delusions to the contrary, I’m not. That said, it is part of a marketer/copywriter’s job to get under the skin of their clients very quickly and really learn about their business. Often people will ask me “how can you possibly write knowledgeably about all these different subjects that you have no prior experience of?”. The truth is you will never match the expertise of your client, even I do not fool myself into believing I could represent a wine producer in court or write a bespoke set of terms and conditions, but what I can do is soak up key facts very quickly, using the client as a source of knowledge.
Marketer, 38, WLTM Industry Expert for mutually fulfilling business relationship…
I bring my marketing skills and my understanding of how to communicate benefits and engage with people through the written word. The industry expertise I get from my client and from conducting research on the subject. It’s not actually necessary to understand the legal ins and outs of the Grocery Supply Code to formulate a clear picture of how a wine producer can use it to their advantage. I don’t have to be able to write terms and conditions to understand that the client needs to protect their business from customers defaulting on payment. In actual fact, many clients are too close to their business to be objective enough to write their own copy; it often takes an outsider to come in and really get to the heart of what their customers need to know from a website or a brochure or a blog post.
Marketer of all trades
In my time I’ve been an expert on plumbing, IT, offshore asset management, design, professional singles dating, aromatherapy and massage, hairdressing, reprographics, breakdown cover and holiday parks. If anyone mentions the words ‘asset protection structures’, ‘ground source heat pumps’ or ‘digital flexo plates’ I can talk for hours (I go down very well at parties as you can imagine!) and don’t even get me started on ‘stay-cationing’!
To be a successful copywriter you have to be able to get up to speed on a client’s business very quickly and take on enough knowledge to communicate their key messages in a way that is relevant to their audience. As dry as some of these subjects sound you can find something interesting in ANY business (no honestly, terms and conditions are actually fascinating!) because it’s all about finding out how they solve a problem for something. Some information I forget eventually, some I retain to regale friends with at dinner parties for ever more (I find I get invited to fewer of those as time goes on…) but all intrigue me while ever I’m in the thick of it.
Have I ever told you how innovative patterned glass can transform any domestic or commercial interior?…