I thought I knew what I was doing with freelancing back then, yet the books – which were two different guides on the art of writing copy – told another story entirely. Suddenly, a process felt like it was being pushed upon me with intimidating precision, terminology and ferocity of confidence. I'd been happy writing for the agency, and I'd always done OK, yet the books spoke of strategies and online marketing techniques which I knew very little of. In short, I was confused. In truth, I was wondering if it was all really for me.
One of the biggest differences between the books and me seemed to be the approach they took: the books were very straight down the line – well put together and deeply informative – but they seemed to be missing something. Over time, I began to realise that what they were missing, for me at least, was humour. It occurred to me that I felt strange when I read the books because they completely missed any kind of humourism out. As someone who enjoys writing humour, I struggled to comprehend just how the authors had managed to avoid it so comprehensively. And if they had...how was this possible? Was it deliberate? Was this the craft?
If it was, I was scared.
Can copywriting be humourous? Absolutely. Of course. To think otherwise is ridiculous. What the books didn't say was that copywriting can reflect every facet of human personality – after all, if there are no rules, and something makes sense, then why remain so constrained? The conclusion at the heart of this was simple and thrilling: copy must be whatever it has to be to sell the product. To make a difference. To get the job done. That is all that really matters.
When people contact me about my copywriting services, I usually end up replying to them with a variable list of generic questions. One of the questions concerns the style of the writing they are looking for: something along the lines of Do you want the writing to be humorous? Very often, clients are perplexed by this question, and it is understandable. Many of us grew up to believe that writing must always be structured and disciplined and full of academic excellence to truly be of value. That for writing to be entertaining, it must also miss out professionalism or other somewhat necessary things. The thing is...copywriting isn't fiction.
Yet the reality is that the very best copywriting mimics the simple communication speech and vernacular that many of us use every single day. And it does sell things, entertain people and do it all professionally – when it is managed. When a writer really takes care.
Humour doesn't have to compromise anything. When we open our mouths, sometimes, funny things just come out. We all know the effect that a sudden injection of humour can have on a crowd of unsuspecting people or friends, so why not approach copywriting in the same exciting way? Why not surprise people and give them something totally unexpected?
I say, do it.
Of course, as with everything, there's a time and a place. Be brave, be daring and see what happens. Or ask me to and I'll see if I can sort you out. Employ some humour and you just might surprise people. The effect could be better than you ever thought possible! Just go easy on the sarcasm. Google doesn't always know how to handle it...