Why a blank page is catnip for any professional copywriter
Every copywriting assignment starts the same way. With a blank page.
The size and budget of the job does not matter – at least not for me. Anything gets everything I have to offer. And so it was when a client asked me to create a theme for a regular posting in the company newsletter on the proper etiquette for email and phone messages to clients.
I started by focusing on what to me was the key issue: the employees did not understand that every customer touch (meeting, email, call) is important as just one mistake could turn a happy customer into a very angry customer. For example, several of my client's customers were upset about what they found in email strings. The sender had no intent to pass this info to the customer. They were only focusing on their message and the most recent message from the last person who handled the email. They did not realize that there was a ticking time bomb in the email string.
There were also some issues with how emails were written (using all caps, the online equivalent of shouting) and how phone calls were mishandled.
The employee newsletter was the perfect place to raise these issues and provide simple tips on how to communicate effectively with a customer by phone or email. And even though the writing of the newsletter was outside my responsibilities, I was more than happy to help out with the theme (which might help explain why I have been retained by these clients for close to 20 years!)
I came up with my usual sacrificial lambs – initial ideas that never make the cut, but are still worthwhile because they lead to something better. Then I put my notes away and worked on something else, knowing my subconscious was hard at work on this thought: All the employees need is a little heads up. A helpful hint, if you will. Gentle as a butterfly, but something that made the point. (Note to reader: notice how much thought is going into this little exercise).
My solution, which I love for its brevity, was to deliver this simple three-word remider:
Messages, Not MESSages
What do you think?
- Annual reports
- Direct mail
- Elevator test
- Employee communications
- Facebook advertising
- Google Adwords
- Outdoor (Transit advertising)
- Point of Sale
- Press releases
- Print advertising
- Radio scripts
- Sales collateral
- Video scripts
- Website content