At a surprisingly subdued cocktail party the other night, I found myself talking with an accountant.
“You and I probably do much the same thing,” I said. “We each get a bunch of information from a client and work on organizing it.”
He agreed, and told me about people dumping off boxes stuffed with documents. Massive messes of paperwork to be turned into a tax return, a balance sheet, or a P&L.
He grasped the idea that marketing content needs to be thoughtfully arranged to do the hard work of proof and persuasion, because he does the exact same thing.
But here’s what I wonder, and never thought to ask him the other night.
Do his clients ever help him out without even realizing it?
It’s not unusual for a copywriter.
G. Lynn Sumner wrote the very first ad for Harry & David in 1936, a full page ad in Fortune. The headline came verbatim from an offhand comment the client made while he was standing in Sumner’s office, staring out the window.
“Imagine Harry And Me Advertising Our Pears In Fortune.”
Because Sumner was a disciplined listener, as well as a skilled writer, he knew he had the headline the moment David Rosenberg’s words were spoken.
It’s a marvelous ad. It gave birth to a flourishing business, and sold something never previously sold by mail.