Monthly Archive: January 2019

Smart Copywriting Is Poetry With A Pitch

The best poets magically fit an entire world into a single poem.

When you read “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg, “Byzantium” by William Butler Yeats, and “Still I Rise,” by Maya Angelou, you’re set adrift in poetic wonderland. These poems are universal and timeless, and all employ an incredible economy of artful language.

The unpurged images of day recede;
The Emperor’s drunken soldiery are abed;
Night resonance recedes, night-walkers’ song
After great cathedral gong;
A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.

-Opening stanza of “Byzantium,” by William Butler Yeats

The western mind wants to figure poetry out. That’s not the point of poetry. Let the language wash over you. Let it take you to a place of redemption and remind you of your connections to all living and loving things.

Poetry is the singular pursuit by a playful wordsmith.

Poets, unlike copywriters, screenwriters, and journalists, don’t have anything to sell. Poets have their point of view to convey, and no clients or anxious team members looking over their shoulders.

Also, poetry is not a capitalized asset and this frees poetry to be something above and beyond the purely commercial. How rare is that today?

What’s a Copywriter, Anyway?

When you meet someone outside the ad industry and mention that you are a copywriter, it can be like saying you a forensic pathologist. Curious, but not wanting to appear uninformed, the listener may nod politely and change the subject.

I’ve also had people ask me if I worked at a law firm in the copyrights division. It’s a fair question, but no, copywriters have nothing to do with protecting intellectual property. If we’re any good at what we do, we build brand value every time, and from time to time when conditions are ideal, we help make our clients rich and famous.

There are at least a handful of identifiable types of copywriters, which further muddies the waters.

Direct marketing copywriters are all about following the formula and playing it by numbers. It’s an exact science to them.

The social media manager, on the other hand, jumps in a seies of fast-moving social streams each morning and rides memes and trending topics all day.

Then, there’s the classic advertising copywriter who is all about the idea and how it will play out on every size screen.

Copywriting Illuminated

The art and science of copywriting (in all its forms) is not something that practitioners learn to master in an online course or in a one-day workshop.

Copywriting is like writing poems, songs or essays–when you’re serious, you spend years learning from the masters and you diligently practice the craft every day. In other words, you don’t dabble in copywriting and find success.

You let it consume you like a fire.

You sit bolt upright in the night with the answer to the copy riddle.

You learn to become your own toughest critic.

You learn not to waste words.

5 Copywriting Tips You Can Bank On

  • Don’t make outrageous claims that you can’t back up
  • Care more about the reader/viewer than you do about anything or anyone else
  • Overly clever wordplay draws attention to itself, not to the customer solution embedded in the product or service
  • Discovery before strategy and concepts before execution #pencilsdown
  • Bring poetic language and narrative technique to the client’s communications problems

Any questions? Pick up the phone!

IN RELATED NEWS: I write poetry and invite you to give this new poem, “Maria from Monterey,” a read.