Confessions of a wannabe

I’ve mentioned multiple times in previous posts that I am NOT a copywriter…

I even went as far as calling myself a “copywriter wannabe…”

As I discussed in The Control is Your Enemy, if I could have figured out how to write killer promotions like Gary Bencivenga and Gene Schwartz, I might have had an easier time of it in my career.

The years when our copywriters were the “highest paid employees” of our company (despite being freelancers), were often our most successful years.

Thinking about being one of those guys seemed pretty cool and it’s not just because it could lead to making a boatload of money.

The impact that “A list copywriters” can make in the world by moving millions of people to action is both inspiring and fascinating to me…always was and always will be.

And being able to write like those guys seemed very far away from my skill set.

Maybe I had “copywriter envy” and that is what led me to call myself a “wannabe.”

But as you may have read in, “Gratefulness is not a Thanksgiving resolution“, there is no room for envy when admiring the great people we surround ourselves with every day…always go to gratefulness for knowing them and learning from them.

I am eternally grateful for the relationships I’ve had with the most impactful writers in direct response throughout my career.

And that brings me to the subscriber who “called me out” after one of my outbursts about my lack of copywriting prowess:

“This has been bugging me, Brian. And it’s probably bugging a few others on this list who are quietly wondering the same thing every time I read your e-mails (and you say) you are not a copywriter.”

He went on:

“…this newsletter is full of DR copy style arguments and writing patterns so I assume you must have studied copywriting at some point and maybe just prefer to call yourself a copywriter for, well…marketing reasons? Am I way off here? What’s the deal?”

Ouch.

My first concern was that this reader was angry with me…thinking I had other motives by saying “I am not a copywriter”…and my primary motivation is to eventually exploit my list by selling them everything under the sun and then open my list up to affiliates…or worse (whatever that might be)!

That’s not happening…although many of you honored me by attending “Titans of Direct Response” and many of you might be interested in the DVD package once I get it all together.

Selling educational programs like those are a natural extension of my writing…or so I thought…

My writing is not about selling…it’s first and foremost about relationship building.

So maybe that’s why I have become the “reluctant copywriter.”

Now that I’ve had time to reflect on this, you know what?

What I do IS copywriting. 

And as you read on, you may see that a lot of what you do is copywriting as well.

I know that reading the best copy from the world’s best copywriters over three decades has taught me a thing or two.

However, when I do eventually sell something after building a relationship, it could be seen as less than genuine—which is what that reader was feeling (I guess).

Whether that was the case or not, I made sure to clarify one other thing to him:

“If I was given an assignment today to write a promotion soup to nuts, in any medium, I would fall flat on my face. Guaranteed.”

What I want to share with you, however, is how much we all need to write more and express ourselves more.

There is no embarrassment in not being considered a world class copywriter while sharing of ourselves and telling our stories.

The fact that you or I may not be able to write a 12 page promotion, a 20 minute video sales letter or a half hour infomercial script doesn’t mean we can’t be competent writers, communicators, storytellers, and speakers.

Those of you who attended the “Titans” event last September heard me tell everyone from the stage that after 8 hours of writing the promotion for the event (an event that was a lifelong dream for me), and then only creating a measly 6 pages of copy in those 8 hours, I was clearly in over my head.

Taking my best thinking (i.e. those 6 pages) to an outside copywriter was the key to getting a successful promotion.

My heart and soul was still in that copy despite all the improvements that copywriter made for me.

That’s really good news, I think…

I wasn’t a failed copywriter simply because I asked for help.

And if any of you think you can’t write effectively about something you care about deeply, I encourage you to think again.

Some of the best copy in my in box every day does NOT come from seasoned copywriters…it actually comes from passionate entrepreneurs who know how to write and communicate about their mission better than anyone in the world.

And while those entrepreneurs might not be able to write a promotion for someone else, they are often masters in their own niche.

Some still need some help like I did; while others are doing just fine on their own, thank you.

My advice to all of you is to look within as you think about copy platforms to sell your products and services…and if it’s also connected to your true life’s mission, you just may be the best copywriter you can find.

However, getting it proofed, honed, tightened might still be in order. I’d recommend that as well.

If you are new to this list, please read my post “Show…Don’t Tell” which talks about how I’ve assessed copywriters throughout my career…and the characteristics that ALL of the great ones have.

And guess what.

I’ve got some of those traits myself.

And…I know all of you do too.

I’ve used this quote in previous speeches I’ve given:

“I’m not a salesman”

      -From the last salesman who visited my office

I’m sure you will agree that we are all salesmen and saleswomen in every aspect of our lives…not just in a business sense…

“Selling” my wife on the idea that spending countless hours calling balls and strikes behind the plate at Little League games is a noble thing to do is way tougher than selling subscriptions and books to millions of consumers…trust me…

Please embrace the fact that we are all salesmen/saleswomen…AND we are all copywriters as well.

In a recent conversation I had with Titan Ken McCarthy, we came to the conclusion that every negotiation, conversation or interaction starts and ends with building an argument…just like writing a sales letter.

That’s how the puzzle gets solved.

To bring all of this home, another subscriber wrote to me in response to one of my more recent posts, “From Intrapreneur to Entrepreneur” and told me of his inspiring journey of going from architect to direct response copywriter.

We exchanged some ideas on how his career in architecture prepared him beautifully to be a copywriter…and frankly, I could have had the same conversation if he had been a dentist, a teacher, a lawyer…anything…as long as there was expertise and passion present.

He also pointed out that inspiration and inflections can come from any direction; and it is imperative to provide value in everything you do.

Who better to write about the value you can provide than you?

Your top gun copywriter,

Brian

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