And how art journaling can make you a better copywriter…
Good copy asks a reader to take action. Persuasion is required. Without any human sensory interaction, great copywriting does that with text.
By “text” I mean all those words we throw together on a printed page or a webpage. The word “text” is the commonest of nouns to describe writing in ink or any digital format. Bland text hardly packs a punch. It’s like saying “food” to describe minted carrots and beef Bourgogne. The empty word “text” lacks value.
Text is dry, boring and ugly. So how do you make it “connect?” How do you find the right words and link them together in just the right order to make a difference to your reader on a level that fuses a gut-level connection? How do you move someone?
I’ve been reading Ultimate Power by Tony Robbins over the weekend. He asserts that connections are made by mirroring another human being and building rapport. The trick though, is understanding yourself enough to drop your own sensory preferences and assume those of the person you want to connect with. Not all writers need to rise to this challenge, but copywriters definitely do if they want to get really good at their work.
You may have heard this one before, even if you’ve not studied NLP a la Tony Robbins…Your experience of the the world is dominated by one of these three senses:
- Visual: You respond to sights and images.
- Auditory: You respond to words and sounds.
- Kinesthetic: You respond to feelings and touch.
Even if this theory is not 100% true, let’s assume for the sake of this blog post that everyone at least tends toward one of the three. What does that mean for the copywriter who must make connections with their readers and spur action? Should she try to develop one sense over another, or pay more attention to one type of sensory reader over another?
The copywriter’s skill, first of all, needn’t cater to a reader’s strength in any one of those sensory tendencies. Neither does a writer’s tendency toward any specific way of perceiving her environment matter to the quality of her copy — because the barren world of mere text holds no power over any of those territories. The copywriter’s ability to make connections with the reader depends mainly on her experience; her understanding of the market she’s writing for and, to some extent, psychology; and the skill with which she handles words and copywriting elements.
Now you might argue that the auditory person likes words and the sound of them, so that person must be most easily persuaded by them, or might readily absorb text “better” than another kinesthetically or visually oriented person. But I don’t believe that’s true.
Auditory words have rhythms, tonality, pace and depth. Text has none unless the writer adds it through sentence structure, varying word and sentence lengths, grammar, and raw skill. If by chance the auditory reader of copy absorbs text at the pace of the spoken word — saying it aloud in his mind as he reads it — then maybe the auditory reader is easier to reach, but probably not by much, based on reading strength alone.
How would that account for the reader whose eyes fly over expanses of text intuitively searching for the words that strike her visual fancy? Words that connote light, color, speed and shape?
And what of the soulful, kinesthetic reader who resonates with textures, temperatures, movement, and intuition? They are just as moved by words as the auditory reader, as long as there’s something there for their sense to respond to.
Do copywriters need to think about all of these things in order to connect with all types of readers? Or can we simply apply all the copywriting tips, tricks and elements, as if following a recipe, and hope for good results?
I think the best copywriters at least try to encompass all the senses when writing. We all have our personal preferences, but I don’t believe for a second that auditory people make the best copywriters. I’ve personally known many copywriters who have an intense visual bent or kinesthetic vibe who write such brilliant copy that it makes me wish I could be inside their brains for just an hour or two!
A writer’s hobbies add depth to their copywriting. One of mine is art journaling. Before you write this off as “too far out there” to be of value to you, let me say I believe there’s a connection between journaling and great copywriting.
My first assumption is that you like words, books, reading, and journals. Most copywriters are “writers” first, and copywriters second.
Consider a chef. All chefs work with food, but the best chefs don’t necessarily place a value on different foods themselves. In the same way, most bibliophiles and writers generally keep an open mind about different genres. (I’m asking you to, anyway!)
Think about the cook-off challenges on the Food Channel, where world renown chefs are asked to use ingredients like Velveeta and pork rinds. I’ve never seen any of them refuse the challenge and stalk off the kitchen set. They just buckle down and do their best. On the flip side, just as a chef may specialize in one technique, like baking or BBQ (where I come from, BBQ’s an art form), I’ve never heard of a copywriter who doesn’t also explore other avenues of writing for the pure joy of writing.
Art journaling, and journaling in general, rewards your clients because it fosters creativity. One word of warning, though! Copywriters should ever allow their personal creativity to get in the way of the needs of the client and his customers. Journaling is an exercise that flexes the mind muscle that makes connections; NOT a means to infuse your copy with imaginary themes that simply don’t exist in your client’s business. It took me awhile to drop all my clever stuff and focus on what’s obvious and important to my customers and their target markets.
When I finally understood that great copywriting didn’t require creativity, the way I initially thought, my copy got better.
Creativity, combined with basic copywriting skills, will improve your copy. Either one without the other will make your copy fall flat dead.
Would you like to explore how art journaling cracks open your auditory, visual and kinesthetic parts of your brain and helps you to connect with readers of all stripes?
I made journals before I officially hung out my shingle as a copywriter. I still do, especially in summer when I stay up later at night. Most of my journals are just hand written words. But four of my journals are “arty,” meaning they are visual and physical objects of color, glue, texture and heft. They are not created in any linear time frame, although I do have a process as I go. They are never quite “finished,” although at some point I just stop and move on. After that I rarely go back and add anything. My art journals are so packed with goodies, they don’t even shut properly. I have to make covers and wind them closed with ribbons and string. Their bulky, overstuffed imperfection reflect my heart and trigger memories far more powerfully than photographs, although there are photos in my books.
Personally, I think art journaling contributes to the professional writing I do for my clients. While they don’t directly help build great copywriting chops, making them allows my creative side to get it’s kicks out. When I force myself to play among the inconsistent and messy parts of life, I can mull over all the non-linear, multi-dimensional answers to questions I didn’t even know were hanging over my head. This hobby helps me crack open new connections.
Let me share some pages with you and walk you through the process a bit. You’ll begin to see how the three sensory connections — auditory, visual and kinesthetic — all meld together. You may also become enchanted with the idea of making your own art journals to see how they fuse the three “sensory experts” within to make you a more “well-rounded copywriter.”
Over the next few days (or weeks), I’ll show you how I pull from my deepest, untapped resources when I make these juicy little journals. Then I’ll show the connection between the creation of these books and my experience writing copy.
Hobbies push you to be better at your career. Are you ever surprised by the ways your hobbies contribute to your professional expertise? Are you interested in learning more about art journaling for copywriters? Why not share?