Don't Hire A Writer

Many businesses, designers, and marketers often take a, “type goes here,” approach to their communications. And when they’re done with a piece, it certainly does look and sound done. Occasionally it can be seen as flawless. But the question is, “Does it work as well as it should? 


Most of the time they’ve grossly under-resourced, bumbled or otherwise neglected half of the communication equation: the writing. Some might even argue that the writing is bigger than half of the equation because language is more closely tied to the human being’s cognitive decision-making process.

The problem: they’re hiring writers.

The businesses of today need more than just a writer… words on a page…a benefit oriented sell message that fits a particular space. It’s not even enough to have a professional writer with a gift for the language. What they really need is a rhetorician…an idea person skilled at the art of persuasion.  They need someone to move people…to persuade them…to captivate their imagination and compel them to act. They need a storyteller who knows how to use the language in all communication channels like a Samurai warrior wields their blade.

That doesn’t come with an English degree, by the way. Nor does it come with masters in journalism or creative writing. In fact, programs like that lead people down a wonderful, yet altogether different path. Cicero, the stoics, Bernbach and Silverstein - the writer will know their names while the persuader will have spent countless hours studying their craft.

One might make the mistake of thinking that the writing matters less today than it once did. We’re more visual as a society. “Nobody reads,” I’m often told. If the common perception is to be believed, we all walk around blind to language somehow gaining all of our knowledge about the world around us through visual forms. The word-a-phobia is completely overblown. Skim though we might, we are still “word people” more than we are “picture people.” I’m not saying that the copy should always be driving the communications bus. Oftentimes a visually driven solution with a touch of copy can be a home run. But the copy - the 5% that ties it all together -is absolutely critical or the home run becomes a foul ball. 

When your brand has a way with words (not just visual design) it will be doubly or triply powerful. And ultimately it means exponentially more money to the bottom line.  When brands send out weak messages, all the money they spent on design, development and implementation makes but a whimper.

How can you tell a writer from a persuader? It’s all in the approach.

While the writer will sit down and bang out some benefit-oriented copy for you, the persuader says, “Not so fast.” They will start by getting curious and researching. And after they’ve collected enough stats, quotes, opinions and impressions, they start to puzzle out what the underlying story is. Then they craft that story, boil it down to its essence, and generate powerful writing that supports the brand story in multiple channels, motivates people to buy, and captures a small, but highly valuable piece of cerebral real estate in the mind of your consumers that will pay dividends for years to come.

In closing, what I am saying is that if you really want to get the most bang for their communication buck (and who doesn’t?) don’t make the mistake of hiring a writer. You should hire a persuader.