Recently, I wrote a TV script. While writing it, I asked if a certain phrase needed to be included. The simplest answers would have been:
c) If it fits, great. But it’s not mandatory.
Here is the emailed answer I received:
“I think we’ve committed to do our best to include, where it makes sense, but without compromising what we need to deliver to make [the] value message most compelling to our audience. And there’s probably a lot more impt [sic] info that needs to be voiced…that said, if we think we can easily fit it in, we should (I just don’t think that’s likely here…which would mean that we WOULD only cover in signage).”
No matter the medium, if you can use fewer words to convey the same meaning, do it.
If you need three headlines, you should write at least 300. But if you’re going to write body copy, don’t throw out the 297.
Just because they weren’t good enough to make the final round doesn’t mean they’re not compelling arguments that paint a vivid picture.
Mine your headlines. Build your body copy.
A week ago I was called in to help do some finessing on a big pitch. One of the things I was asked to do was to write body copy for the ads.
Working from home, I wrote four pieces and sent them off. The CDs in charge of the pitch loved them. So much in fact, they asked me to write body copy for the rest of what they were presenting.
Here’s the secret: I’m not the world’s best copywriter. But I do care about body copy. I do try to craft it. And I do try to give it a voice. That’s really quite rare in this business.
It’s very easy to fill up body copy with cliches and aphorisms and words like “introducing,” and “finally.” And why not? Everyone’s doing it, and no one reads body copy anyway.
The truth is probably 10% of consumers read body copy, 80% of creative directors reviewing your book read it, and 100% of the people supervising this pitch were reading it.
If you care about body copy, writing it becomes easy. If you don’t care, it’s a headache. It’s having to get out of bed because you forgot to take out the garbage. It’s torture.
My portfolio school professor used to say writing body copy was a dying art. I agree. But if you can become proficient in that art, you’ll stand out.
Art directors need to understand and respect copy.
Copywriters need to understand and respect art direction.
Account planners have to be creative and recognize great work.
Creatives have to be able to write their own briefs and recognize great insights.
AEs should understand and respect great creative.
Planners and creatives should understand and respect client relations.
Clients should understand and respect great creative.
Agencies should understand and respect the client’s needs.
(Notice how it gets more and more difficult?)
You should know something about everything and everything about something. If you want to succeed in this business, start by understanding everything about your craft and almost everything about the crafts of those around you.