Creative & Copywriting: Personality-Plus
As budgets have become tighter and schedules more intense, the selling tool of catalogs and Web sites that’s suffered most has been the copy. It’s essential to maintain vigilance to write interesting, compelling copy.
Customers have few expectations about what they’ll read in a catalog or Web site. That’s why interesting copy and outstanding headlines are such a surprise and delight to them, and why it’s worth the time, effort and expense to write copy that really sings.
You need access to enthusiasts when you write copy, and being an enthusiast yourself is certainly helpful, although working on catalogs tends to create enthusiasts. You know how they say “salesmen are the biggest suckers”? That applies to direct marketing copywriters, too.
The intimacy writers reveal when they’re truly engaged in selling a product sometimes shows up as wacky or offbeat copy — even over the most mundane products. It’s one thing to write outrageous copy for The Highlander (a catalog I worked on some years ago that was based on a TV show about immortals and adventure), and another to write offbeat lines about everyday items like T-shirts or flowers. But if written appropriately, this voice makes your Web site or catalog something people read and remember — and tell their friends about.
Which leads me to some of the best advice I ever received about selling. During my college years, I worked for Singer selling sewing machines, teaching sewing, making samples for displays and so on. My sales manager shared with me the two most important things a salesperson can do to make a sale: First, listen. Second, share the information you have about the product in a personal manner, like you’re telling a good friend. I wouldn’t shout at customers, but I’d speak with enthusiasm and tell them with candor how I’d used the products myself. I’d invite them to try it (risk free) and then invite them to take it home. That advice is applicable in copywriting, too.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of my favorite little bits of copy that show personality-plus, revealing the heart and soul of a catalog or Web site to make it the one customers will remember and return to.
Annie’s Annuals & Perennials. She writes in her section of Mediterranean wildflowers: “Blue Honeywort” — “The perfect plant for those who say they kill everything!” Another one from Annie’s for her Drama Queen poppy: “Let us all bow down to the flower gods for giving us this ‘only in our dreams’ Poppy!”