Copywriting can sometimes be like a lonely game…
There you are, hidden away in your office, staring out over the rooftops, to the pavilion across the way…
You see a man walking his dog and consider the fact that a few hours ago it would have been you walking your dog on that same pavilion.
You wonder if, when it was you there on the pavilion walking your own dog, someone else wasn’t sat in your chair watching you.
And was this person watching you a copywriter too? Did they watch you and wonder if it would be them walking their dog in a few hours?
Then you remember real life is not a Paul Auster novel and to save yourself going the way of Daniel Quinn, you slap yourself about the face, jot down the projects and tasks you have for the week and make a start on that order form copy for one of your clients in the US.
OK. Maybe you don’t have quite the same existential crisis, but I’m bloody darned sure that if you’re a copywriter like me and spend a lot of time wandering around in your own mind for ideas, you’ll have a pretty good handle on the feel I’m going for here.
In fact, I dare say we encourage it a little.
I admit the clichéd image of the lonesome writer in their ivory tower (a 6×6 box room in my case), crafting their latest masterpiece is one I’ve no doubt subconsciously aspired to throughout my life.
But, of course, it’s all bollocks.
Turn to the acknowledgement page in any book and you’ll see many more people go into the process of ‘writing’ a book than just the writer themselves.
It’s the same for good copy.
Good copy is not something that is produced by a single person.
It should be a collaborative effort, one that brings together lots of different minds and levels of experience to produce something that is, at the risk of sounding like Jesus, bigger than just one person.
WOAH THERE, NELLY! Before we get to that…
I wonder if you’d like to get hold of a simple guide I’ve put together that outlines my own copy training methods?
Hey, you might be above that kind of help – and that’s fine.
But of course there’s a chance one little idea lurks in this guide you’ve not thought about for ages and it could be this one little idea helps you write a piece of copy that performs better than you expected and earns you more money and industry plaudits. Maybe. Maybe not.
But it’s worth a look, right?
In the studio working on a new co-lab, yeah?
A few years back I went to see a hip-hop dance troupe called Boy Blue Entertainment… something like that… I may be getting mixed up with Red Hot Entertainment who produced the wonderful ‘Junior Spesh’ music video about the extra value that can be gained when purchasing a child’s meal from an east London chicken shop:
The dance show was themed around the idea of collaboration and saw many different styles of dance being performed together to produce something truly original.
It’s always stuck in my head and I was reminded of the experience when working recently with a good friend and fellow copywriter on a new sales letter.
I won’t go into too much detail on the project itself as the principle is universal…
But the general idea was that a renowned gold expert has noticed the gold price rising two years on the trot and he believes this could be a signal we’re about to see another long term bull market.
Pretty straightforward idea, so I got to working on a headline and lead.
After a couple of stabs I had something.
I wasn’t completely happy with it, but there was something about it and rather than work on it myself until I convinced myself it was right and built up preciousness about the idea…
I fired it over to my friend.
He liked it too, but he could see something was missing.
He made some notes and suggestions and fired it back.
Reading through his notes I saw a phrase I really liked and agreed it made the headline stronger. I tweaked it a bit myself and fired it back.
Back and forth we went a couple more times, on each occasion taking what we had and tweaking it a little to make the copy burn that little brighter.
Key thing to note here is that at no point did one of us get precious over certain phrasing or force a change. The whole process was collaborative with the simple aim of making the copy stronger, more authentic and more persuasive.
Once we’d got the promotion to a place where we were happy with it, we showed it again to the editor and worked with the legal team to make sure it was all supported.
Then we collaborated with the designer to make sure it looked nice. I even chipped in designing some of the charts so that we could get everything sorted faster.
In little over a week, together, we’d produced a 30+ page sales letter that was ready to test online.
And here’s something really interesting…
I didn’t tell you before but there was a 12-hour time difference between my friend and me.
Yup. Whilst I was writing hidden in my little office on the east coast of England, my collaborative partner was all the way on the other side of the world in Melbourne, Australia.
So, time and distance is most definitely NOT an obstacle to collaborating on copy.
Did the sales letter work?
It’s kind of irrelevant (though you can see at the end). The point is that it was made much stronger thanks to the collaboration.
Without that back and forth, I would have produced something that simply wasn’t as rich in interesting detail and wasn’t presented in such a clear way.
So, next time you’re tempted to lock yourself away with your laptop and an espresso machine, I suggest you avoid the restrictive and limited nature of working alone and look to collaborate with as many different minds as you can.
Do so and I guarantee your copy will be stronger.
P.S. It’s early days for the promo but so far it’s ticking up the orders and thanks to idea being a pretty big one, it can run for a good few months with different angles into it. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’ve got a rich idea before you write anything.