If you are like me, then your entire life up to the moment you got into internet marketing (or for that matter off-line marketing of your own business or professional services), you didn’t have the first idea about copywriting. In fact, you would have been trained to write in all possible ways other than those that apparently make for great copy.
Back in my undergraduate years at the University of Texas at Austin I was enrolled in a Philosophy Honors course that entailed writing our own thesis. And write I did, a tome on "The Ontological Foundations of a Quantum Cosmology".
Which, despite its certainly interesting contents, was practically direct "anti-copy": Complicated, difficult to read, using stilted, academic language with endless run-on sentences…
I wonder whether you’d agree that from very early on in our primary school careers, and on from there, we are trained to write to impress, not really to communicate. Or maybe to keep a certain prescribed tone, of politeness, of adhering to "the rules", or of artificial detachment.
The extreme forms of this I have been privy to almost every day for the last two years, in my Masters program for counseling psychology that I am enrolled in to integrate more mainstream psychology into my "tool kit":
The APA (American Psychological Association) "Style" calls for adherents to write in a way that is almost completely unreadable. It’s as if you are trying to beat any of your would-be intellectual opponents or critics into submission with the dryness and labyrinthine obtuseness of your research paper.
And just the other day, a professor in one of my classes was directing us again to never use the word "I", let alone "you", in the assessment reports we were learning to write, and instead use phrases like "This examiner concludes…". So this blogger concludes that in order to learn how to connect with people in the world of direct response, he needs to write for you in a completely different sort of way.
So if you had been looking to do something about this like I did over the last year or so, you would have been giving yourself an education in what I like to call a "Copywriting and Direct Marketing MBA". Not that you could find this offered in any academic setting (as far as I know).
Instead, you would look to the luminaries in the field, buy eBooks and courses, and spend endless hours listening to teleconference calls and pouring over the copy that’s "out there" and that you think is effective. All in hopes of acquiring the magic copy touch by quasi osmosis.
I will have to admit that, given my long term "indoctrination" with the "anti-copy" principles and methods described earlier, it has taken me almost a year just to be able to capture and absorb the voice and feel of copy. Such as in using extremely brief sentences. Only a year or so ago that last sentence would have never happened to me. There. I did it again. It’s truly mind-boggling this…
Now guess what, would you say that it’s finally beginning to work? Look Ma, no "I"!
And then, right when you think you have all your duckies for the long-form sales letter lined up in a row, comes along that dastardly Michael Fortin, direct response copywriter extraordinaire, and tells us in his 40 plus page "manifesto-style" report (thank Rich Schefren for reviving that "literary" format) that the long form sales letter may or may not be dead.
Dang! Make ready your video cameras and Camtasia screen-capture softwares…
Then Marlon Sander’s intimates to a handful of us, his group coaching clients, the other day that in internet marketing you are basically "in the entertainment business, to some extent". Controversy, personality, and all that. I wonder what’s next.
To be continued.