3 Ways to kill the creative copywriting myth (once and for all)
I thought this week I’d attack a prevailing myth when it comes to writing copy for your blog posts, emails and sales pages.
And that is, you’ve got to be creative.
One of the prevailing stereotypes is that to write effective copy – let alone write it faster – you need to be the creative type. Phooey!
Let’s get a professional opinion on this.
This is David Ogilvy. The King of Madison Avenue.
Ogilvy is often referred to as the father of modern advertising.
He started what became one of the largest advertising agencies in the world which still bears his name and was part of the inspiration behind the “Mad Men” television series.
When it comes to creativity, as you’d expect from a Scotsman, he didn’t mince words:
if it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative
One of the most influential figures in advertising and marketing in the last 100 years knew from experience that writing effective copy wasn’t about creative prose.
It’s about results.
As an aside David Ogilvy, Original Mad Man of Madison Avenue considered himself a “lousy copywriter”.
Meanwhile some of the best copywriters aren’t creative at all – not in the traditional sense. They use tried and tested methods to get their persuasive message across.
Ogilvy later condensed his lessons learnt building one of the world’s largest advertising agencies in a book, “Ogilvy on Advertising”
The opening sentence from his book drives this message home. He said:
I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art-form. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me you find it creative. I want you to find it so interesting you buy the product.
Let’s get a second opinion on this.
This is Gary Bencivenga.
Gary is the copywriter’s copywriter.
Gary trained under the fathers of modern advertising and copywriting including John Caples and David Ogilvy. He’s is widely regarded as the best copywriter of his generation (some say of the last century).
This is what Gary had to say on creative copy:
Effective copywriting is salesmanship in print, not clever wordsmithing
Oh, and by the way, Gary has a B.A. in English Literature, a background we often associate with “creative writing”.
And then there’s Bob Bly.
Bob’s been referred to as “America’s Top Copywriter”, especial in the business-to-business space.
Over 4 decades Bob has written over 70 books on business, marketing and copywriting including the renowned “The Copywriter’s Handbook”.
Here’s Bob’s perspective on creativity and copy:
structure is key: if your copy does not follow the formula for persuasion, it won’t work … no matter how creative you get
Great copywriters add their own unique individuality to a well laid path rather than starting from a clean slate each time. We’ll talk more about these well laid paths another time.
Meanwhile, as a successful copywriter earning high 6-figures every year, Bob has a degree in Chemical Engineering. Far removed from what you’d consider a creative background.
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Writing a great sales letter is about preparation & process, not creativity
Writing copy, like many professions, involves a known process.
With the right training and the right tools you can write effective copy faster too.
I’m going to reveal techniques the best copywriters use to dramatically improve their productivity in future posts.
But for now let me say that in all my research I only found one, lone copywriter claim their productivity was due to “discipline and motivation”.
I guess we can cross that one off our list.
Finally this is Ray Edwards.
Ray is a renowned copywriter and author of the best-selling “Writing Riches”.
He’s written or directed campaigns responsible for an estimated $100 million in sales having worked with Tony Robbins through to Jeff Walker of Product Launch Formula fame.
Ray contends that a great sales letter is not concocted from some creative outburst.
It’s a formula. And a typical sales letter has fifteen basic elements or building blocks.
Here’s what Ray had to say about writing a sales letter
It’s a formula. And if you follow the formula, you will get predictable results. You will sell stuff.
So what are the 3 cures to writing creativity?
Many copywriters cited tools, techniques, frameworks and other resources to write copy faster.
Instead of creativity, many copywriters cited tools, techniques, frameworks and other resources to write effective copy faster.
In summary these are:
Over the coming weeks we’ll explore each of these areas with practical, hands-on techniques you can use to write effective emails, sales letters and sale pages faster.