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Advice and help for would be copywriters

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In Some Far Off, Enthusiastic, Energetic And Ambitious Ways...

In some far off, enthusiastic, energetic and ambitious days, I worked for an agency which, by common consent, was certainly among the three best creative outfits in the country - and thinking back, I am probably being charitable to the other two. Why they ever employed me must remain one of the great mysteries of the ages. This agency had three writers, presided over by a lapsed genius who owned the most biting tongue I've ever been on the wrong side of. I remember rushing into his office one day with a piece of copy which was, in retrospect, far too bombastic for words.

'Will you pass this?' I asked earnestly. He read the piece quickly and replied: 'Cocker, I think someone already has.' What distinguished these three writers from the great majority of the legion of copywriters, whose work I have considered since, was the fact that they could write.

While each had his or her own particular style and special strengths, they could all turn their hands to anything. Technical ads, consumer ads, fashion ads, soft-sell ads, funny ads, deadpan ads - they could all do the lot and make a good job of it. They could take a brief consisting of a handful of nothing and turn it into a thing of online advertising beauty, i.e.

an ad that pretty well forced you to read it and left you convinced when you had. The preceding paragraphs have been written not for the purpose of inducing lachrymose nostalgia in me, but rather to graphically illustrate that copywriters should be infinitely adaptable and that formula should never enter their scheme of things.

Ask any digital marketing-orientated executive (there's some of the jargonized formula) what the constituent parts of an advertisement should be and he will quote the textbook along the following lines. 1 Headline featuring the main product benefit. 2 Opening paragraph enlarging on this benefit.

3 Facts to support the benefit claim. 4 Warning to reader of what he will miss if he doesn't buy the product. 5 Call to action. The above formula has, ostensibly, everything to be said in its favour.

Except that it very seldom works. Certainly, mediocre online advertising can be done by the website and frequently is.

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