Sound Thinking - A Gooder Writer’s Values

by Tim Miles

“No.” — Parents to two-year-olds, two-year-olds to parents, and the odd media rep with whom I’d very much like to develop a professional relationship.

In honor of being a recent guest in the hometown of the Busch family, we presented a 12-pack of tools at the Missouri Broadcasters’ Convention that writers could take home to be a gooder writer. Our first three mental beers were the three values innate in such a person.

Curiosity

When we checked into our rooms at the Ritz, Ron found himself on the 12th floor, and I was booked on the 4th. Since every room has a balcony, I couldn’t wait to get up to his room and see the view from his room.

Why? Same side of the hotel, same scenery… but a different perspective.

Ahhh…

If you want to connect with consumers in your words and pictures, you better darn well cut through the traditional advertising crap. To do that, all it really takes is a different perspective. You and I call wanting to find that different perspective curiosity.

Why do you say your people make the difference?

Why does your plumbing unit work better than the others?

Why this? Why that?

The most valuable word in the English language must certainly be you. Finishing a close runner-up is why.

To connect with consumers you’ve got to answer the questions they’re asking, and they don’t care about the traditional features and benefits the client wants to go on and on about.

To connect with your clients you’ve got to dig deeper than the shallow questions they’re used to getting from the other booger-eating media reps that think the sale ends when they sign the buy.

It don’t end there, bub. It begins.

In case you were curious.

Knowledge

Once you start digging deeper into the why, you’ve got to have the knowledge to execute what the client wants to happen. You’ve got to know how advertising works.

I know that seems self-evident, but let’s examine it on a couple of levels. Primarily, yes, you have to use tools like E-Volutions and the Wizard of Ads Trilogy (or a trip to Wizard Academy) to learn and practice becoming a gooder writer. You have to build confidence in your abilities to master the second level of knowledge: transferring your confidence over to your client.

An understanding of what makes people do the things they do and an understanding of good copywriting gives you the inner strength to tell your client it might not be the best idea for him to have his dog in his ad – even though he really loves his dog.

Your knowledge helps you defend your choice to not include her phone number 12 times in her new radio ad.

Your knowledge helps you defend your choice to not have the client in the commercial at all.

All that knowledge leads us back to satisfying your client’s curiosity – that word again – often masked as resistance, even belligerence, to your ideas and strategies. Your knowledge will allow you to tell them why – that word again – you think it wise to not include his seven children in his commercial.

Courage

Finally, do you have the guts to do what’s best for your client? We’ve talked about why and how. Let’s briefly discuss who by me asking you a question:

Who do you work for?

Do you work for your station? By that I mean, is your utmost loyalty to your quarterly goal and your number of closes each week?

Or do you work for your clients? Are you willing to not recommend a particular package of the week to your clients because you happen to think it’s crap? Are you willing to stand up for the right message the right number of times when your client thinks she knows best? Are you willing to recommend another medium? An additional station owned by your ‘competition?’ Are you willing to tell them to hold off on advertising for their restaurant until they get past the rat problem?

Are you willing to walk away from a sale because you know in your heart and mind you can’t possibly achieve their expectations?

Careful research has shown me that if you work for the client, the rest takes care of itself.

Can’t have one without the... other...

 

Here’s the dandy thing about these three values: properly developed, they prop each other up when you’re having a rough day.

An overwhelming curiosity drives you to learn more about your client and her business. That knowledge – combined with a better understanding of advertising – grows your courage to do the right thing without compromise. That courage – combined with the results you see doing it the right way – leads to more overwhelming curiosity about other businesses and other ways to do it right.

And the circle goes ‘round and ‘round.

Let’s all hug.

Now, Do Something About It

Drive a different way than usual to work. Notice anything different? Do a Google search or visit www.elibrary.com and study a little about the profession of your least favorite client. Finally, tell someone ‘no.’ Be sure to tell them why and specifically how you arrived at your conclusion. Then tell them how to do it better if they’re curious. Then go home happy – which way you go home at that point is up to you.

Coming up next time, we’ll crack open three more mental beers by discussing the three questions you should always ask before you begin writing.

 

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