I was thinking about a BBDO moment…I was assigned to write a newspaper ad for pickup trucks for a Dodge dealer in Buffalo, New York.  The way everybody else at the ad agency did it was to look in the files for an ad that was approved in the past, and use that while adjusting the details for the present moment.

     Instead I got out a binder with a hundred pages of all the options available on Dodge trucks. What did I know about Buffalo’s market conditions? Zilch. But I knew about the “lake effect” that buries Buffalo in snow every winter. So when I saw that there was a snowplow attachment available, I made that the focus of a new ad.

     Not a SALE! price, I had no authorization for anything like that. Just calling your attention to the fact that you could outfit any Dodge pickup with a snowplow.

     Kazam, I was suddenly a genius. The Buffalo office tried to lure me away with double my salary. Move to Buffalo? Fuhgetaboutit.

     My usual procedure when I am assigned to write an ad or brochure is to examine the information and examine the situation before writing anything. Usually my examinations from alternative viewpoints brings up a salient fact that can be used to spotlight an offer and sidestep the competition.

     The other defining characteristic of my copywriting is my ardent focus on readability. I am astonished at what a low priority “readability” has in the tech marketing sector.

     “We aren’t selling to kindergartners,” seems to be their attitude, as though “readability” means “dumbing down.” They seem to believe that the rules of syntax and grammar do not apply to them.

     I am outside the TV commercial universe, as far as being a writer. I wrote TV for Dodge but none of my subsequent clients has had the budget for TV commercials. I’ve worked a different patch.   

     Many tech companies have videos to be looked at but they don’t appear to be copywritten. Video production is so cheap and easy these days that you can just wing it and then edit it into a seamless presentation. Except they don’t.

     They present text that assumes the reader already knows all the details of the innovation, and what it means in the marketplace.

     They’re aiming their marketing at the competition instead of the customers. Nyeah, nyeah, we have disruptive Kafoozalini™ and you don’t. We got there first!

     Tech companies with something new think that by coming up with a new name for their thing, they are communicating with their customers. They believe they’ve solved the communications problem by calling their new product Kafoozalini, and if you know Kafoozalini, then everything else in the ad/site makes sense. So they never bother to discuss what Kafoozalini is. Sheesh, if you don’t know that, you must be really dumb.

     Trademarking a neologism doesn’t mean anybody will notice it. It takes a lot of money to embed such things in the consumer’s mind.

     I’ve often talked to CEOs about their product and they tell me good stuff, and then I ask, “Where on your site can I find out what you just told me?” and they say it’s not on the site.

     Then how are people going to find out about it?

     That’s the salesman’s job.

     I’ve had a lot of marketing directors (back in the days of print) tell me that the brochure is irrelevant to sales, it’s just something to put into the mark’s hands while the salesman spins his magic spiel. All the brochure needs is some pretty pictures and whatever text Legal says we gotta have. Nobody’s going to buy anything because of a brochure, not in our niche.