“Did you hate it?”
No, the interviewer replies.
“Shame. You’re supposed to,” says McQueen.
When it comes to getting someone’s attention, you’ve got to go for emotions.
If you don’t at least try, you’re guaranteed to fail.
If you’re not thinking about how your audience relates to your writing, you shouldn’t call yourself a copywriter.
You’ve got to shock people.
But shock doesn’t mean saying something lewd or overly negative.
It’s about breaking expected patterns, presenting things in a new way.
Sometimes doing so will inspire your audience.
They’ll be lifted and the connection to what you’re presenting will be strong.
But taking this approach means you’ll sometimes hit a raw nerve.
You’ll cause offence.
People will speak against your message.
It’s a risk.
But here’s the thing…
It’s a risk you’ve got to take. There’s no point in going for the middle ground.
There’s no point in being average.
Being average is dull. But more importantly, it’s ineffective.
There’s something about McQueens
I watched the Alexander McQueen documentary on Netflix last night.
Here was a man who knew marketing.
I’ve known of McQueen for years and knew he was an interesting guy.
Turns out he was a genuine artist.
For anyone who hasn’t come across him before, Lee Alexander McQueen was a British-born fashion designer who was catapulted to fame for creating stunning collections for Givenchy and Gucci, as well as sending the fashion world crazy with his own brand.
His life, unfortunately, ended all too abruptly by his own hands on the eve of his Mother’s funeral.
But his story is inspiring nevertheless.
What jumped out a slapped me in the face during the documentary was the little exchange with a journalist after one of his early shows.
McQueen is graduating from fashion school.
His show causes a storm.
The outfits are shocking…
The catwalk models strut with attitude, goading the crowd…
McQueen himself looks like no designer you’ve seen before…a bit of a chav if we’re honest.
But McQueen knew exactly what he was doing.
He understood to get attention you have to tap into people’s emotions.
You have to get them excited, angry, exhilarated, upset…
You have to get them to feel something.
This is – or it damn well should be – a fundamental piece of knowledge for any copywriter.
Still, it’s easy to forget.
I mean, writing in and of itself is quite a cold, dull act.
It’s why I always try and wait until the last minute before I sit down to write…so I can commit the act quickly, stabbing at the keyboard with excitement, pouring out the ideas as fast as I can.
In my own way, I’m even trying to force emotion into the very syntax of my writing.
But then once the words are out, you’ve got to look at them again.
Figure out if you’re hitting emotions.
The only reason people continue to read is that they care.
The only reason you’re still reading this is that you have an emotional interest in what I’m saying…
Or you disagree.
Either way, it’s an active response.
No one reads copy just for the sake of reading copy.
After that first show, McQueen’s rise to fame was exponential.
He’d hit people on an emotional level and he never forgot it was this simple fact that made him.
He did it again and again.
He hit highs…
He hit lows…
But whatever he did, it always provoked an emotional response.
It’s an approach to creativity we should all look to emulate.
P.S. There’s a lot more on the importance of targetting emotions in my book, The Art of the Click.
If you’ve not got yourself a copy yet, you can do so on Amazon right here.
Let me know how you get on with it if you pick up a copy.