It’s hard to be humble when you’re an alien. With heads as big as yours – and brains to match – you’re probably wondering why humans have made everything so-o-o-o complicated.
Here’s a good example… We’ve made a science out of earning a crust. We’ve called it a million things: economics, Capitalism, Marxism, marketing, accountancy, advertising. And to cap it all, someone invented copywriting!
I wouldn’t blame your average alien for rolling on the floor laughing (and even that’s been made complicated by what’s known as text messaging. “ROFL for short,” they say – but now it’s so short that only those in-the-know know what’s going on!)
No-one can know if you think Earth is a let-down. We can only guess that the research you did before landing here didn’t prepare you for our human foibles. In the interests of inter-galactic harmony, it’s probably a good idea if someone approaches you with a few billion words of explanation.
Let’s take the aforesaid ‘copywriting’, for instance. Of all the mysteries in all the world, that may seem a bit random – but, hey, that’s what we’re like here. Eeny-meeny-miney-… copywriting. Get it? No? OK – no surprise there then.
I’d like to think I can explain about copywriting, mainly because I’ve spent most of my life doing it. Now you’re probably thinking that’s insanity. Humanoids live for 80 years and spend a massive chunk of their lives doing something really obscure.
We have a phrase here on Earth (everyone’s always saying it). “Life’s too short,” we say, “for wasting it on XYZ.” We say it, but don’t practise what we preach. When it comes to earning a crust, humans have invented so many time-consuming techniques they can barely master, until it’s time to retire – then die.
The down-to-earth truth
Ah well. Let me tell you about copywriting anyway. “Is it a branch of economics?” you ask. Well – erm – not really. “Is it to do with accountancy – whatever that is?” (Yes, I can see you’ve picked up a few useful words, but I think you’ll need to be a bit more patient.)
No, my friend. Copywriting is a branch of marketing. And that’s all about selling. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You may meet people who work in universities who will tell you otherwise. And there may also be people who’ve spent three years studying in universities, learning how to complicate things, who will probably agree with them.
Yes, marketing IS linked with economics. And that’s a great way of measuring what everyone does for a living and then deciding we want more of it – every year. Whether that’s possible isn’t the point. Economics was invented to make us depressed as you’ll see when you look at those strange things we call newspapers and televisions. Check out the words we use: recession, depression, deflation, devaluation…
No-one will admit it, but marketing is all about lots of people rushing around trying to convince other people that what they do and make and sell is FAR BETTER than their neighbours’ efforts. Mad really. Some of us call it ‘re-inventing the wheel’ (no, your rocket doesn’t have wheels, but if it did, they wouldn’t be round enough for earthly marketing men).
So, you see, copywriting is part of marketing. We’ve made marketing so complicated that we’ve had to split it up into digestible bits. Copywriting is one of those pieces, but you’re sure to meet other people who’ll bore you rigid talking about PR, advertising, direct mail, below-the-line stuff – and so it goes on.
It’s hell out there!
These are all the complicated ways that marketing folks have invented to earn a living. Some people can earn a small fortune by being smarter or quicker-to-the-punch than others. Yes, marketing people can be quite aggressive. They even use the metaphors of war to describe what they do. They talk about ‘campaigns’ and things. They’ve even invented names for their leaders such as ‘captains of industry’.
Not so with copywriters. They’re the ones who get down and dirty with words. Yes, I know: why do we all get so excited about a few strings of words? Well, let me tell you: when marketing people take a copywriter’s work, then add on some pictures from a photographer or designer – everyone ends up in a pure frenzy!
Their campaigns will out-sell their neighbours’ campaigns. Their product will blow everyone else’s out of the water. Market domination will bring its own rewards in the shape of more success, more pictures – and more copywriting.
Are you still with me, so far? It’s great you’ve picked up our language so quickly. It’s a shame, though, that we’ve had to leave simplicity behind. I mean, you’d think that copywriters would have a vested interest in making their work easy. You’d be right to assume that language which is easy to understand would sell more (in a marketing kind of way).
Copywriters want none of it. They have to show off how clever they’ve become after spending huge chunks of their life organising words in rows. They’re desperate to create double meanings, innuendo, irony – you name it! We have another phrase here on Earth: we say “It’s only human nature” – as if turning everything into an incomprehensible nightmare was a responsibility everyone assumes on exiting the womb.
We also respond strangely to questions whose complexity can often baffle even the sharpest of minds. Copywriting is a fairly typical field of human endeavour where this mindset is embraced. It may not mean much to you, but our favourite phrase is: “It’s all alien to me!”
About the author:
Mike Beeson is a UK freelance copywriter, journalist and PR consultant specialising in website and SEO copywriting. Mike’s company, Buzzwords Limited, was established over 20 years ago and is located in Knutsford, Cheshire (south Manchester).