Okay. Sometimes, I can be quite biased.
Just because I’m a copywriter, I tend to dismiss the other critical element of a great piece of marketing communication – the visual. Hey you can’t blame a writer who is defensive of his craft.
So why this sudden affinity towards visuals? Well you can’t refute facts, especially when they make a whole lotta sense. According to research by some geniuses, it is proven that:
People remember 80% of what THEY SEE
Compared to only 20% of what THEY READ
Pretty eye-opening stat, if you will. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out. I would most likely remember the opening scenes of my favourite movie as opposed to the opening lines of my favourite book. Yes, we humans are intrinsically wired to prioritise visual information.
So that’s how people consume data, but here’s the more important stat part of the same research:
90% of the world’s data was created in the last 2 years.
Yes, the last 2 frigging years! And we all have access to virtually most of it thanks to accurate search platforms and social media.
So what does this mean for developing marketing communication content?
Find out everything you need to know about your audience
Don’t ramble, keep it simple and concise; made easy when you know your target
Take on an infographic mode wherever possible; icons, charts, graphs and illustrations
In essence, don’t add to the mindless drivel that’s growing exponentially every second. Say enough to evoke curiosity, compel action and you’re done.
The sad thing is, apparently only 28% of words in a webpage are actually read, which means 72% of this post just added to the mindless drivel.
I’m one of those weird kind of copywriters. I don’t really read.
Well I do read a bit of non-fiction; but nothing specific, just what I happen to fancy when I’m in a bookstore or while browsing Amazon. When it comes to fiction though, I’m hopeless. The last novel I finished was probably a John Grisham in my teens.
Even watching my sister go through almost a dozen books a month when growing up didn’t rub-off on me. I’d rather sit on the rooftop of the house I grew up in listening to Tupac’s Me Against the World while admiring the surrounding greenery.
Ahhh… the simpler times.
Despite my lack of reading, I ended up in the writing business. Most copywriters are or ought to be avid readers, and I’m pretty sure it helps them to become better wordsmiths. But me, I’m different, I tend to read the world that’s in front of me as opposed to blocking my view with a book.
There are beautiful stories playing out right in front of our eyes, no matter how inconspicuous.
I constantly take in the sights, sounds, atmosphere, ambiance and nuances of my surroundings, which in its own way has helped me become a better copywriter over the years.
How you ask? Some examples, if you will:
People watching > Analyzing consumer behavior
Watching TV > Errr… competitive analysis of other ads, provided I’ve not recorded the show
Noticing a gecko on the ceiling > Aspire to greater heights / there’s always (gecko) shit to clean up
Watching the sun go down > Holy crap, there’s a deadline tomorrow!
Hearing birds chirping > Holy crap, the deadline is today!
Well, I’m just… different.
The secret to become a successful copywriter? Write less.
Yes, it means being able to get a message across in the shortest, most concise and most engaging manner possible.
But that’s not all.
Writing less is also about, well, actually having less writing to do. Think of it from the context of ‘Quality over Quantity’. Having attention divided by five different projects will invariably result in inferior work compared to when if I just had two projects. And if I could just focus on just one project at any one time, I think the work delivered will only get better.
“But hey… you’ve been doing this for donkey years, shouldn’t you be able to work faster and maintain consistent quality at the same time?” Asked an asshole.
Yes, of course. If it’s the usual marketing drivel laden with mindless superlatives and catchy buzzwords, then yeah, I could whip something out with relative ease.
The thing is I’m fed up actually; fed up with writing junk, tired of BS layered over more BS and often feel sick reading stuff that I’ve written in a rush just to meet a deadline.
If only I had more time. Truth be told, these days, I do.
This is my fourth year of being a fulltime freelance copywriter, and I feel that I’m writing less, but delivering more value to my clients that I ever had in my career.
Firstly, I’m fortunate enough to work with clients that allow for the critical incubation period. And secondly, I have made a conscious choice to take in less work.
From an entrepreneurial perspective, it might sound downright counter-productive. But do my existing clients appreciate my dedication, incisiveness and insights? I sure hope they do.
I could be wrong though, some writers let-fingers-fly on intensive and continuous word-spill, and only then go on to pick what’s good and relevant to be included in a piece of work. I guess I’m just more deliberate and patient with my approach.
And to be honest, there’s no secret really. It just takes time, provided you’ve already done a bit of hard time in the industry to start with.