Ace your copy by channeling your inner idea writers

Here’s a meander through the Idea Writers by Teressa Iezzi. It’s got lessons for content writers and business owners alike.

Cover art of the book The Idea Writers by Teress Iezzi - it features the words on a black ink blot coming from an old fashioned quill pen. Behind it is a light blue background that sort of looks like an hour glass but more modernAs a mad keen journal writer, I often sock away book reviews, podcast musings and documentary notes only to discover them years after the fact. I’ve recently uncovered an entire book of such material. In an effort to put this knowledge to good use, I have dug up some notes from a book called the Idea Writers by Teressa Iezzi.

The book itself is about copywriting for the advertising world. It covers content marketing and has some valuable lessons for all kinds of writers looking to tap into audience appeal.

NOTE: as there is dust on those Idea Writers notes, it is tough to tell if it is a direct quote, something discussed that I have paraphrased, or an idea inspired by the Idea Writers themselves. But hopefully, I do it justice.

This blog is a summation of the Idea Writers book and what inspired me as I read it.

Interruption versus destination

Ask yourself- is your content an interruption or a destination?  Each distraction or interruption costs us 25 minutes of our day. We spend up to a third of our day distracted.

It has to count when you ask someone to pay attention.

Customers have time for the right message

As idea writers and content marketers, business owners and salespeople, we have to assume that people have the time to hear us out.

However, that customer doesn’t give a rat’s hind leg about your new formula or shiny new way of doing things. That’s what matters to your or your company.

You have to assume that customer wants help, which is why they are giving you a second look. You have to answer that, make them feel something, think and contemplate you.

It’s not what should excite you that your content or messaging needs. It should be about eliciting a reaction and inviting a response from that customer as a result.

Your company’s credibility matters

Idea writers can weave a lot of magic. But they can’t spin straw into gold.

The best ads are built on a solid base of brand truth. You have to make sure that the things your brand says can’t bring up a cynical response, seem unbelievable or disingenuous.

You have to have respect for the audience. Assume your customer is intelligent.

And stop leaning on hyperbole and promised lands to get the message across that seem tired and over-used. Classic examples I can think of in small business include the six-figure income, rock bottom triumph or life being over without your product in it.

Bill Berbach is a clever cookie

Check out this quote:

Idea writers are “shapers of society. We can vulgarise it. We can brutalise it. And we can take it to a higher level.”

I especially loved this in light of internet writing and the current leaning of news culture towards risky and/or problematic story telling or clickbait culture reporting. But we have to think about this with the businesses we worth with, too.

People want honest interactions with the products and services they spend their hard-earned money on. Having a burn and churn approach to luring customers in and then failing to deliver will injure your brand over time.

Creatives need respect too

Idea writers themselves need support, nurturing and the right amount of respect, as this quote from the book shows.

“In a depressingly typical scenario, advertisers will enlist talented people to work on projects and then proceed to tell them how to do their jobs.”

Again, you see this a lot in freelancing and contracting. People hire, then lose confidence or micromanage that person away from their best work.

You have to be brave enough to allow staff members, contractors and freelancers give you their best work.

Great ideas come from people who feel like they have to support to be creative. Not from people with a boot on their back!

Conversation is king

You don’t have to be a grammar nerd to be a good copywriter. But you do have to be good at telling a story.

You can always hire a proof-reader or editor to fix up grammar mistakes and punctuation. The same cannot be said of a true conversation with a customer.

And customers will tune out from the conversation if you give them a reason to do so. They don’t care as much as you think about mechanics.

Side note: There’s a little too much expectation for content creators and idea writers to be all the things in this day and age. We get it, budget is tight and may not allow for a lot of people to work on the one project or marketing idea.

You should however give enough budget for it to get done properly.

idea writers know Copy is not writing

There’s a wonderful quote:

“Copy has the added burden of being beautiful or making you laugh, while also telling you what to do.”

The balance between these worlds cannot be understated.

You want people to connect with what you’ve written. You also want them to act. The two are not one and the same.

Some people think in stories and some people think in systems.

The same is true of idea writers, too. You have to choose the right writer for you.

Work with your customers

The days of laying down “buy me” and expecting it to work are long gone. Customers want to be involved in the story and they have been for a while now.

Your customers are producers of reviews, ideas and new lead generation. They are your critics and your social media comment-makers. They also want to shape the brand, change the products and champion the knowledge too.

Giving customers the appropriate channels to engage can help your business reach more people.

The internet is competitive and holds a lot of idea writers all asking for customers to give them a second glance. You have to make it count and work with them, too.

Aim for outcomes and solutions with the brief

What’s the one thing you’d like the audience to take away? What’s the focus of the engagement?

A brief that states the problem you’re attempting to solve is far better than a laundry list of ideas and inclusions. It gives all parties, including the idea writers themselves, the opportunity to get you your result.

If you pre-empt how things should work, you will receive the answers to a checklist. That’s unlikely to turn on any customer, who simply isn’t thinking of your content that way.

Think viral (even if you don’t achieve it)

  • Would someone with no interest in this product care about this idea?
  • Does it create something new to satiate the internet’s appetite?
  • Does it reassess the existing world in a meaningful or fanciful way?
  • Does it have a hook that drives action and memory?
  • Does it express something universal in a way that the audience cannot?
  • Can the audience own the story and relate it to others?

It’s not a perfect formula but it’s certainly a nice framework to experiment with!

The final word on the Idea Writers book

I would recommend Idea Writers by Teressa Iezzi for any content creator or copywriter. If you have a content driven business (or you would like to fall into this category) I would definitely take the time to check it out.

Want to try your like with idea writers? You’re looking at one. CONTACT ME.

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