Writing about yourself. You don’t want to come off like a braggart, but you don’t want to sell yourself short. It’s a tough balancing act, and the best way for me to work this is to go back to 1971.
On a raw autumn night that year I headed out on my first assignment as a reporter. My boss sent me to cover a school board meeting.
“Come back with something interesting,” he snarled.
I don’t remember what I came back with. All I remember is how complicated and boring the meeting was.
Even worse was the foggy language to cut through in city planning commission meetings. I preferred covering the police station. Crime was much more straightforward.
But those days on the beat taught me how to ask a question. It’s a skill that wears well, because good questions give birth to good copy.
Out Of The Newsroom And Into Sales
Good questions helped me make the move from reporter to advertising salesperson. In sales, I wasn’t asking questions to get the story. I was asking them to understand the prospect, and to get the deal.
I became the highest billing salesperson in my company, Nationwide Communications. Then I became a sales manager, a National Director of Sales for AOL, and a Senior VP for CBS Radio.
No matter how many people reported to me, no matter what the job description, I was always writing copy.
Sales presentations. Media kits. Ads for salespeople selling marketing campaigns.
A Long Running Party Runs Out Of Steam
And then it stopped being fun. The media business party came crashing to an end. When the job turned into cutting costs instead of creating content and customers, I went to work as a freelance copywriter.
Today, I relate to entrepreneurs because I am one.
I deliberately avoid one copywriting niche, going against the grain of the experts’ advice, because I’m too curious, too fascinated by different types of businesses.
If it’s direct response, if the copywriting project needs to make something happen, I’m in.
Video scripts, email sequences, websites, landing pages, newsletters, magalogs, white papers, blog posts… I love writing them all.
Today, I am privileged to have clients around the world.
The Challenge That Never Goes Away
When I was writing news stories, the challenge was to take a large and messy pile of information, pick out the best pieces, arrange them in the right order, get the facts straight, and get it all done on time.
When I was a salesperson, the challenge was much the same. Take a large group of prospects, pick out the ones that mattered most, understand their needs, and connect these needs in the right way with the solution being sold.
Today, when I write copy, the process is much the same.
It’s all about building the right bridge. A bridge the prospect will feel comfortable crossing. It crosses a river churning with doubt, inertia, skepticism, and disregard.
This bridge connects the unmet needs and desires of your prospect with the solution you provide.
I live in Coronado, California with my bride of 31 years, Ellen.
We look out our window and see the soaring bridge that connects Coronado with San Diego.
The bridge is a constant reminder of the purpose of copywriting… to give people a comfortable way to move from where they are to where they want to be.