Albert Lasker. Mel Martin. Eugene Schwartz. Robert Collier. Victor Schwab. David Ogilvy. John Caples. Maxwell Sackheim. Bill Jayme. Copywriters who wrote beautiful copy. Ads that drove results. As David Ogilvy said, “We sell or else.”
This is the point. Advertising comes in two flavors: artistic and mechanical.
One obscures the message and is judged by its originality. It conforms to the principles of art.
The other clarifies the message and is judged by performance. It conforms to principles of copywriting, of advertising.
One is a monument. The other is a tool. One is meant to attract attention from a distance. The other is meant to absorb traffic. To steer readers into action.
To get results. But this doesn’t mean you throw creativity out the window …
In this 9-minute episode you’ll discover:
- The longest spanning bridge in Switzerland
- Rosser Reeves’ great metaphor that perfectly illustrates the relationship between copywriting and creativity
- Four must-listen episodes of Rough Draft
- A neuroscientist’s definition of creativity
- What you can learn about creativity from a sales guide Ogilvy wrote when he was 25
- The famous Bill Jayme headline for Psychology Today
The Show Notes
- The 10 Best Rough Draft Shows (So Far)
- Web Writers: 9 Classic Must-Read Direct Response Copywriting Books
- How Neuroscientist Michael Grybko Defines Creativity
How Every Creative Must Think about Marketing and Advertising
Voiceover: This is Rainmaker.FM, the digital marketing podcast network. It’s built on the Rainmaker Platform, which empowers you to build your own digital marketing and sales platform. Start your free 14-day trial at Rainmaker.FM/Platform.
Demian Farnworth: Howdy dear podcast listener, this is Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I am Demian Farnworth, your host, your muse, your digital recluse, and the Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media.
And thank you for sharing the next few minutes of your life with me.
So this is episode 63, and we are calling it “How Every Advertiser Must Think about Creativity.” It’s a good show. You’ll enjoy it. But if you are new to Rough Draft, and you’d like some help in finding some other shows you should listen to …
Let me give you some quick suggestions.
Four Must-Listen Episodes of Rough Draft
If you want to start from the very beginning, listen to “Two Challenges All Digital Content Must Conquer.” It’s a little over four minutes long, so nice, easy introduction to what you are in for.
But if you’d prefer something more personal, try “A Small Gift for Your Dark Days as an Obscure Writer.” I offer you something that helped me during one of my most difficult times as an online writer.
However, my favorite show at the moment is “How the Perfect Article Is Framed by White Space.” The reason I love this episode is because the blend of monologue, story and music are pure magic. I tip my hat to our sound guy, Toby Lyles.
But on second thought, I think “Meet the Tragic Poster Boy for the Emotional Brain” is my new favorite episode because I share my favorite story about the relationship between emotions and decision making.
That one’s just a few shows back, but I’ll link to all these episodes in the show notes. And I’ll also link to a short guide on the must listen episodes. You’ll get six more recommendations.
Enough housekeeping stuff. On to the show.
The Longest Spanning Bridge in Switzerland
Christian Menn. Jenn Muller. Eugene Figg. John Roebling. Joseph Strauss. Santiago Calatrava Valls. Charles Alton Ellis.
The names I just spoke, all civil engineers who designed beautiful bridges. Beautiful bridges that worked.
Take the Ganter Bridge, for example, designed by renowned Swiss Christian Menn. It’s the longest spanning bridge in Switzerland at 2,224 feet. The main towers are 492 feet, towering over the Ganter river below. The span between the two towers is straight, but the remaining span curves, forming an S shape. And it’s made out of reinforced concrete.
Rosser Reeves’ Great Metaphor that Perfectly Illustrates the Relationship between Copywriting and Creativity
This is why I bring this up, and I’m quoting from pages 85-86 in Reality in Advertising — one of nine advertising books you should own — by Rosser Reeves.
“Great copywriting, in its way, is not unlike engineering. Engineering can lead to art, but when it does, the art must flower on top of dozens, even hundreds, of practical considerations.”
“No one will deny that the catenary curve of a bridge is a lovely and sweeping thing. However, the bridge is built for a purpose other than art; it must conform to engineering principles; and we know that it will stand.”
“A pure artist might design a much more wonderful and aesthetic bridge; but it might not withstand hurricane winds, or the pounding of thousands of heavy, eight-wheel trucks.”
Albert Lasker. Mel Martin. Eugene Schwartz. Robert Collier. Victor Schwab. David Ogilvy. John Caples. Maxwell Sackheim. Bill Jayme.
Like Reeves, these were copywriters who wrote beautiful copy. Beautiful is debatable, relative, I get it. But these ads drove results. As David Ogilvy said, “We sell or else.”
This is the point. Advertising comes in two flavors: artistic and mechanical.
One obscures the message and is judged by its originality. It conforms to principles of art. The other clarifies the message and is judged by performance.
It conforms to principles of copywriting, of advertising.
One is a monument. The other is a tool. One is meant to attract attention at a distance. The other is meant to absorb traffic. To steer readers into action.
A Neuroscientist’s Definition of Creativity
To get results. This doesn’t mean you throw creativity out the window. But what is creativity? Michael Grybko, the neuroscientist my fellow podcaster Kelton Reid interviewed on his show said, “In science, we define ‘creativity’ as an idea that is novel, good, and useful.”
Grybko continues: “It’s a little broader than the Oxford Dictionary’s definition, where it’s just the ability to create, because that doesn’t really say much. You can create something and it’s not very useful or it just won’t work well.”
Advertising. Copywriting. Content marketing. Blogging. You need creativity to address your reader’s needs in useful ways.
What You Can Learn About Creativity From a Sales Guide Ogilvy Wrote When He Was 25
Let me close with this example to help drive home this point about creativity. I’m reading from “The Theory and Practice of Selling the Aga Cooker,” a guide David Ogilvy wrote for the Aga Cooker sales staff when David was only 25.
“The Aga means fuel saving, staff reduction, reduced expenditure on cleaning materials, reduction of meat shrinkage and food wastage, abolition of chimney sweeps: painting and redecorating is unheard of; electric irons and their antics are unnecessary; raids on registry offices for new servants become a thing of the past; the house can be let or sold at any time on its kitchen; bilious attacks and doctor’s bills are halved; restaurants are seldom visited, and as the French say: ‘The Aga owner eats best at home.’”
This from a section called “Summary of Miscellaneous Economies.” In advertising, this is creativity at its best. It takes research to find all those economies of the Aga cooker. It takes creativity to position them in a meaningful, useful, and beautiful way that appeals to the ideal customer — it takes creativity to create the right message at the right time for the right person.
It’s creativity that allowed David Ogilvy to write a winning headline for Rolls Royce that says “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock.”
The Famous Bill Jayme Headline from Psychology Today
It’s what creativity that allowed Bill Jayme write “Do you close the bathroom door even when you are the only one home?” A headline selling a Psychology Today subscription.
The moral of this episode is to be creative — use your creative powers — but use it to clarify the message and then judge that message by performance.
Is it useful? Will it absorb traffic? Will it deliver results?
Those are the questions your content has to answer. And so, until next time, take care.