Freelance life, Maslen on Marketing

What does it take to be creative?

It’s fair to describe copywriting as a craft rather than art. But you still need ideas. You still have to be creative. If you’re going to penetrate the miasma of other people’s marketing messages clogging up your reader’s brain, you need to have something fresh and stimulating for them.

Reach for the high hanging fruit

So, an outline for your brochure, letter or web page may be all very well for the structure, but how are you going to bring your product to life? The answer is, BE CREATIVE.

Stretch for that elusive word, phrase or concept that will stick like a burr in your reader’s mind. And, more importantly, have them reaching for the phone or the credit card.

Here is a list of some of the things I do to stimulate the flow of creative ideas. Some of them may not be practical for you. Others may simply not work for you. But I hope a few will help you explore and develop your own approach to creativity.

When I need to freshen my thinking, I…

  1. Go for a walk by the river
  2. Take some hard physical exercise
  3. Write down anything that comes into my head
  4. Pick up a fountain pen and paper instead of sitting at my screen
  5. Use the thing I’m writing about
  6. Draw the person who’s supposed to be buying what I’m writing about
  7. Do five minutes of breathing exercises
  8. Look through an art book
  9. Read poetry
  10. Flick through a book of quotations
  11. Read other people’s copy
  12. Write a scene between two people, one of whom has already bought the product
  13. Stare out of the window and put my mind into neutral
  14. Ask my friends what would make them buy this thing
  15. Imagine I’m making the purchase decision and decide what would sway me
  16. Look in my ideas book – a collection of phrases and words that occur to me at odd times when I’m NOT writing copy
  17. Read books by great copywriters and advertising men like David Ogilvy
  18. Turn the ringer off on my phone
  19. Go and work somewhere other than my office
  20. Make something really good to eat

This isn’t an exhaustive, or prescriptive list. Why not get one of your own going?

 And my point is?

Being a good – great – copywriter means that you have mastered the tools of your trade and can now pay attention to ideas. But you do have to have the ideas in the first place.

Try to create a mindset, a physical environment, an emotional space where you can tap into your own creativity.

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