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5 Things The Apprentice Can Teach Us About Copywriting
Now I’d be lying if I was to say this post wasn’t a shameless opportunity to gossip about TV at work, but since we’re in the throes of the Apprentice (now less of a ruthless survival of the fittest and more on par with those reality TV shows set in a sensational part of the UK), I do believe that we can learn a little about life through some of the Apprentice’s finest moments. Not about business – good God no – but about the tricky art of writing copy.
1. Find a mentor
Whether it’s someone threatening to beat you if you’ve spelt something wrong (this never happened at Fluid) or a kindly proofreader, every copywriter should have a friend/slave/legally bound colleague to look over their miniature masterpieces. Do Lord Sugar, Karen Brady and Nick Hewer count as mentors? Unless mentoring is lots of withering glances and snickering from the sidelines while the contestants mess up basic maths, then probably not. But you get the picture, someone to look up to, pull your grammar to pieces and congratulate you on a killer line is necessary. Nobody’s perfect, that’s why copywriters have minions.
2. Listen to the audience
In The Apprentice, it’s just standard practice to go out and invest in something that you think is so amazing nobody can fail to want one. Buffalo? Why not. A tiny teddy bear wearing a union jack waistcoat for 15 quid? It’s a must-have. Writing site copy is less about showing your prowess and awe inspiring vocabulary and more about giving the audience the information they want in the shortest time possible. As a copywriter it’s painful to say, but great site copy should really do the job so well that it manages to fade into the background in its efficiency. If you see what I mean…
3. Simple and concise works
Non-writing types generally think their site copy/blog post has to sound flowery and intelligent and take up at least 500 words in order to actually portray how flowery and intelligent they are. But sometimes, as demonstrated in all its glory by Lord Sugar, it’s those simple few words that get the point across. In the same vein of ‘you’re full of bullsh*t, you’re fired’ *accusing finger stab* sometimes no frills copy says more than endless text, especially in web content.
4. Sales language. Done well.
The Apprentice has taught us that pushy promoting does not a ‘brand’ make and that actually an over-zealous sales spiel can actually make you look like a bit of an ass. Passion is good, claims of world domination is not.
‘I’m not a one trick pony, I’m not a 10 trick pony, I’m a whole field of ponies – and they’re literally all running towards this job’ – Stuart ‘The Brand’ Baggs
5. If in doubt play the ‘I’ve got 4 degrees/ run 17 businesses/ I’m only 22 card’
Not excuses in Apprentice ‘about to be booted out’ style, but knowing your credentials and asserting yourself when content is slowly eeking off brief. A client might know exactly how they want to portray their business, and of course you’re happy to oblige, but that doesn’t stop a few edits shifting that content from the main aim of some Ben & Jerry’s style ‘quirkiness’ to corporate and bland. If you know how to get the desired message across then stick to your guns. You are a wordsmith after all.