The voodoo we copywriters do


I’m often asked–and have often wondered–what makes me good at coming up with concepts that are interesting, evocative and effective. It’s funny how, for some reason, we’re all fascinated by the creative process, even those of us who are “creative”. How do you seemingly make something from nothing? How do you “move the needle”? How do you make someone take the action you want them to take?

For me, a lot of it is innate personality. It sounds like psychobabble but I truly am highly empathetic. I can sense the emotions of those around me. I can feel what they’re feeling as though their feelings are my own. Intuitively, I’m able to see the world through their eyes and share their perspective. I may not agree with it or condone their choices, but I do understand. This instinctive ability lets me hear their unvoiced questions and anticipate their needs. Where others grapple for words, I seem to find the right words and tone. It’s my empathy that enables me to help people find the right phrases to tap into their feelings and make that all-important connection. I think this ability alone has given me a powerful advantage in doing what I do, because to me, people are not “target audiences”. They’re people. I know what makes them act and react. And I’m always respectful of them.

Also, I’m strategic by nature. I just naturally sort through the clutter and find the best route for your marketing strategy. I’ve heard that it’s not a skill that can be taught. It’s a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world. It means that I can see patterns where others see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, I play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? OK, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps me see around the next corner, not only anticipating possibilities but accurately predicting potential obstacles. Guided by where I see each path leading, I start to make selections, discarding the paths that lead nowhere or lead to resistance or confusion. I cull until I arrive at the chosen path–the strategy. That’s when I move forward. This skill is so endemic to what it takes to be an effective writer, it’s hard to overstate its importance.

Lastly, I’m a geek. I’m curious about everything–how it works, how it came to be, what it does, where it goes. Hardware. Software. Services. Ideas. It doesn’t matter. I love to puzzle it out, find the core of it and be able to express it back with clarity and understanding. It’s a point of pride. And it’s why I often tell clients I enjoy working on their projects. Because I always learn something new.

I’m sure every writer would give different answers. There’s no single path to creation that is right or ideal. But these are some of the ways I do what I do.

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