“Hi, my name is Laura, and I’m in marketing.”
I'm here to admit for the first time that this little mantra, stolen from AA, is what I feel like I should be saying to myself in front of the mirror every morning after I brush my teeth.
Because I think we can all agree that 95.7% of marketing just makes everybody feel gross:
“Time is running out!”
“If you don’t act now…”
“But wait—there’s more!”
And really, I didn’t even mean to end up in “marketing.” I started out as a journalist where I learned the fine art of asking a gazillion questions until I understood completely whatever it was I was writing about that week. Then I'd scurry back to my computer and sort through it all to turn it in into a story that regular people could read and understand.
I did that happily for years until a chance meeting with author Barry Hannah unearthed a long-buried desire to write fiction. So I gave up life as I knew it and headed west to Montana—a.k.a. the most beautiful place on earth—to get my MFA in Creative Writing.
After a couple of years in grad school shangri-la, real life concerns (rent, insurance, vet bills) came flooding back. I had moved to San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities on the planet (I know, I know), right as the news industry started its slow decline and so I quickly realized I needed to blend my two skills—journalism and creative writing—into a new, more sustainable career path. And voilà—a copywriter was born.
Back to the marketing thing…
When I started copywriting, I didn’t even realize, consciously, I was doing “marketing.” And if you’d told me back then, I probably would have stopped cold turkey and hightailed it back to Missoula.
But after a year or so of building a client base that was decent, I realized there was a method to the madness. And if I wanted to move beyond "decent," I needed to understand the method. I set out to learn all I could about what constitutes good marketing writing, and just as in my journalism days, I synthesized everything I learned and put together my own story of what makes good copywriting good.
And you know what?
Good copywriting doesn’t have anything at all to do with marketing.
Good copywriting is all about solving people’s problems.
Their time problem. Their being bored problem. Their being boring problem. Their husband problem. Their “I feel fat” problem. Their “no one understands what I do” problem.
Once I figured this out, I got over any lingering angst I had about going over to “the dark side” of marketing and started wearing it like a badge. Because solving people’s problems feels really good. And because I get to do it with writing, it's pretty much the best job I could ever have.
But wait...there’s more!
The best thing about all of this is that I’ve been able to create the kind of copywriting career (and now branding, too, but more on that in my next post) that feels right for me and feels great for my clients. It’s just real people talking to other real people about stuff that really matters. What could be better than that?