5. One for the writers. It’s all about ‘you’.
Being a bridge between product (not client) and customer should really have been blog one. It’s certainly copywriting 1.01.
And the foundation upon which that bridge is built? Why it’s ‘you’ of course’.
Opinion is divided on the sweetest sounding words in the English language. Some say ‘cellar door’. Others, ‘arabesque’.
Just to reassure you that it hasn’t gone unnoticed that arabesque is clearly French – and of course the French borrowed it from the Italian (arabesco), so I guess when we say English we mean as English as a footballer at an English football club.
Yet while I can appreciate the smooth flow over the vowels in these words, for me they are as empty and devoid of real poetry as graphics is of art.
They have all the appeal of a pattern. And like wallpaper they may decorate the room but will have little impact on the heart.
It’s what takes place in the room that builds associations with the decor – that make a place feel like home. That attribute real emotion by association to the patterns – that then may become triggers or anchors for the feelings experienced in proximity.
So we arrive at the notion of attributing meaning to the shapes and patterns that have been associated with the life lived in their presence.
Now back to the words.
What they represent is what turns them into the ‘sweetest words’ and that can have a visceral effect upon us. Their meaning in combination with their sound. I would argue that few words (if we are to generalise – and we are) have greater impact than that of Mother. Or perhaps having even greater impact (because of associations built on earlier memories when we are more emotion led beings), Mummy or Daddy.
But of course this is an entirely personal thing dependant on specific individual life experience – as Jung argued about the signs and symbols that appear in our dreams. The symbol of the cross will have differing significance to catholics as it will to christians or muslims, mormons, or atheists and so on.
Yet generalisations about one’s past aside there is one word in the English language that above all others, bar one, carries the greatest impact upon aggregate.
That is the pronoun ‘you’.
The ‘bar one’ would be your own name. If I offered up a page with your name at the top and the title “All about…(your name here)…; few would be able to resist.
However, in its stead, ‘you’ is as close as were going to get to a magic word that draws your attention to the page with a gravity all its own.
‘You’ is the copywriter’s greatest ally in enlisting the reader’s engagement. And its meaning – the emotion and experience and perspective it represents – should be ever present in the writer’s consideration when putting words on the page.
Because the person referred to as ‘you’ is the sole reason for the writer’s existence. In terms of marketing communications, the ‘you’ referred to represents the highest of the high. The King or Queen of everything. The customer.
In this sense, for ‘you’ we exist and you alone. For ‘you’ is the giver of life, bringer of all that is right and good. Bearer of the greatest of gifts – your custom.
The real job, then, not just for the writer but for every person in communications, should be to represent your needs and defend your point of view.
This is not the case nearly enough of the time. But it should be. The jobbing creative’s mission should be to resist the insistence of the client that the customer is as interested in their product as they are.
Clients often fall into a familair trap, as Narcissus fell in love with his own relfection, of believing that their product is as worthy of love as any baby, as it is often thought of.
And as any agency account man or woman will tell you, you don’t want to be trumpeting on about the unattractiveness of the client’s baby. So a way must be found to direct the attention away from the greedy and needy child that certain brands (i.e. their brand managers) become in order to focus on the needs of the customer.
‘You’ is the way through.
When you are crafting copy you would do well to think of yourself as a lawyer representing the point of view of the customer.
Really explore the case for the prosecution. Why should the customer consider spending any time at all contemplating a brand? They have a busy life full of relationships and responsibilities, ambitions and anxieties, hopes and fears, all clamouring for attention. Where in the melee is there a moment for the client’s brand? That’s some stiff competition for your customer’s attention.
Now you are approaching the reality of the mountain you have to climb in even attracting that attention in the first place, let alone engaging their interest in the brand you’re promoting. A useful guide surprisingly easily overlooked (as we shift roles) is to always keep your own customer’s perspective in mind. What would truly interest you? Are you buying your own sales pitch? Are you moved at all?
Use the word ‘you’ as your rope to climb that mountain.
Wrap it around you – it truly is a life-line tethering you to reality. Hang on tight and step by step ‘you’ will help you find the leverage to interest your customer in the brand so that you may even ascend to the required heights of interest that capture the customer’s imagination.
Do that and you have conquered the summit. Press on intrepid explorer.
You know you can do it.
Thanks for reading.
If you would like help you with you brand communications please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org