Thursday 21 November 2013

Copywriting: why it pays to go plural

Clients are increasingly turning to teams of agency writers over individual wordsmiths. We think we know why.

The case for the defense
Don’t get us wrong: sometimes hiring a one-man band is the right call. Knowing you’re only dealing with one person can simplify the briefing, delivery and feedback processes.

These are compelling benefits – a little too compelling given our title – but there are plenty of reasons why using a team of writers can deliver more effective copy.

When it comes to copywriting, you need a crew.
Two or three minds are better than one
Some of our best work comes from kicking ideas around in a group. Two or three of us will all have a go at the brief. Then we’ll compare what we’ve done.

Consider some of the most highly acclaimed TV dramas of the last decade or so. We’re talking Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Wire and The Sopranos. What do they have in common?

They all focus on flawed anti-heroes you secretly want to be? Yes, but not that.

They’re all from across the pond? Yes, but not that.

They’re all created collaboratively – with input from a large team of writers? Bingo. And the result, each time, is a bigger and better end product. Now, your next brochure may not be as gripping as Tony’s latest meltdown or as stirring as Don’s latest affair, but having a great number of minds on the job is guaranteed to produce something more memorable.

You can handle big projects
Another benefit of having a stable of writers up to speed on a job is the ability to handle volume. Clients can expand projects without sacrificing quality or massively extending deadlines.

You’re more likely to get client approval first time
When using an individual writer, the second pair of eyes looking at the copy usually belongs to the agency or client. This is a large – and often overlooked – cost. And a risk. Having to make extensive changes to a first draft delays a project. Clients can lose confidence in the agency and start to question other elements. Writers can lose their initial enthusiasm if it goes through repeated drafts. Budgets can get blown. Whereas nailing something on version one saves time, money and stress. And it delights the client.

Version one approval is much more likely with an experienced writing team. Why? Well, just as snow, paper and Microsoft Word can cause blindness, so the solitary writer might miss his own errors. They certainly find it difficult to spot any stilted edges in their style. The objective eyes of a fellow copywriter won’t. They’ll pick up issues straight away.

Do you want Wings or The Beatles?
If it’s memorable copy you’re after, a writer who knows they’ll have their work checked by a colleague is more inclined to push their copy to the limits. Just look at the music world: is it any coincidence that Lennon and McCartney both penned their best stuff as part of the Fab Four? (Apart from Lennon’s Imagine.) And what about The Rolling Stones’ solo efforts?  

We all instinctively up our game when we know we have to answer to skilled and respected colleagues. It creates an environment that encourages creative risks and, back in the world of communications, the result is more original, more effective copy.

So, there we have it. That’s what we mean when we say: with copywriting, it might pay to go plural.

Anyway, I need to dash. I’m off to get this checked over before it goes online.

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