If Buckminster Fuller Wrote Copy

Paul Talbot Copywriting, Featured


The name Buckminster Fuller came up a few weeks ago.

I had a conversation with a guy in Vegas who tossed out Fuller’s name, a name I hadn’t heard in years.  And years ago, Fuller intrigued me.

Sadly, he slipped off my radar, so I decided to pay him a return visit.

Fuller is best remembered as an architect, and as a designer.  His geodesic dome, built to house the U.S. pavilion at Montreal’s Expo ’67, enchanted me.

But Fuller transcended architecture.  He was fascinated with systems, and skimming over his work, I stumbled onto a few of his thoughts that ring true for those of us who write copy.

“Don’t fight forces, use them.”

Fuller grasps something that most marketing people don’t.  The copy we write is not built to ignite desire, but to channel and amplify existing desire.  This is how we create response.

“Tension is the great integrity.”

Every good piece of copy sparkles with tension.   It balances opposing forces.  These forces could embrace just about anything:  Problem/Solution, Hero/Villain, or Inertia/Action.

Fuller’s architectural eye sees tension holding his structures together.  The same happens with copy.  Opposing forces bind the messages and engage the prospect.

“You uncover what is when you get rid of what isn’t.”

Fuller strikes the same note here as Miles Davis, who once told a reporter, “I always listen to what I can leave out.”

Picasso echoed this when he said, “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.”

Good copy isn’t art.  But it is stripped down.  And Fuller is right.  When we write good copy we help the prospect uncover what is, whatever will fulfill an acknowledged or unknown desire.

Something else about Fuller.  When he traveled, he wore three watches. One set to the time zone he was in, one for the zone departed, and one for the zone he was heading for.

A good piece of copy also wears three watches. It looks back on problems the prospect will leave behind, cultivates current hope, and foreshadows a future solution.