It’s true. I haven’t always been the gifted copywriter I am today. Not always the UK copywriter of choice for the SEO great and the web marketing good of London Town, Manchester and the shires……. no less. In a roundabout way though I’ve always been a writer, songs, reviews, stuff, though the copywriter I’ve become has been more by accident than by design. A product of previous lives.
In one of them I lived in China for a couple of years where I taught English and Business English and went on to sell containers of miniature, remote control indoor helicopters and UFOs for Turkish Americans out of Shantou – ‘the ceiling’s the limit!’ I wrote for them, and we laughed and drank Gong Fu Cha and rode our bikes.
A world that many find more interesting than easy, China leaves you with more questions than answers. Without getting too philosophical, the further time takes me from China the more I want to understand. If you’ve spent any time there, you’ll likely know what I’m saying…… my relationship China feels like unfinished business…… there’s stuff I need to work out….. so with a fair wind I may well return in the not too distant future – for interest’s sake.
As well as living for a while in the wild east of beautiful old Shantou and in high-tech Zhuhai on the Macau border I also taught in a city called Wuxi, about an hour and half north west of Shanghai, one stop on from Suzhou. Nice enough, manageable size, sat on the shores of the giant lake Tai Hu. Very beautiful, scenic in places, in others, as many Chinese cities are, scarred with a rash of modernity – ill conceived, poorly executed – charmless fail. On a rainy day you could be mistaken for thinking you were in an Oriental Basingstoke. No thanks.
Teaching Business English
Gotta say though, Wuxi paigu……. If you ever get the chance and are into meat, in this case ribs…… fantastico. All the food in China was a treat, Chaoshan restaurants, food to die for. Xiou Mie, belt fish, the simplest bowl of noodles was heaven…… Anyway,…… One of the lovely classes of Chinese professionals I taught business English to, a group from Bosch studied a book called ‘New Business Matters – business English with a lexical approach‘ by Mark Powell and Ron Martinez. What a great piece of work. Modern, relevant, well written, a superb read. Certainly challenging for my students, but hey, it’s good to push it a bit.
The very first unit was titled Career Management with the text article titled ‘Me PLC’. It went on to talk about Steve Jobs, hired guns, employability, the corporate ladder, re-engineering, change management, empowerment. ‘The thing about the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat,’ it said. Ouch.
Sure I’d come across Michael Porter and read a load of other business gurus and experts when I was at college, but I hadn’t come across the expression ‘me PLC’ before. The single cell corporation…………………. now web enabled.
A UK Copywriter
Well… times move on and doing what I do, now, back in the UK copywriting, a copywriter UK based commentating, observing, formulating and sharing ideas, it requires a lot of reading and researching, mooching about online and generally working to get a feel for the way things are hanging together. Innovative times and online copy, copywriting skills, sales, marketing, content marketing and all that jazz deserve close attention. Trying to get under the skin of what’s happening and what people are doing to be ‘effective’, the claims, the counter claims, the blah blah, the words for words sake, the quality.
Well it’s strange because virtually all I see now, all I’m surrounded by, all we’re surrounded by, immersed in………. is ‘Me PLC’.
Chris Brogan asking the question ‘Are We Addicted To Giving Our Own Opinions?‘ is a product of exactly this.
Sit back and reflect on a really well written piece… say a Seth Godin blog like Everyone is cluless or a Copyblogger article like Why Content Is No Longer King…. and they genuinely engage. You can easily relate to the sentiments and motivations, to experiences in your own life, thoughts and contemplations. Fertile ground for us would be code breakers, especially if you don’t swallow the baby with the bath water as many do.
Now don’t get me wrong…..there are many many sincere, well-intentioned, honourable people and sites on the interweb – I’d be inclined to include Mr Godin, Mr Brogan and Mr Clark amongst them – professionals.
There are also a whole stack of angular, tales from topographic oldwives, backslappers, ‘I grew up poor as a kid but I’m rich now’, tipsters, tricksters, web 2.0 nuuuuu media schticksters, pseudo academic, nudge nudge wink winkers, ‘I’m gonna let you in on a secret’ sonny jimers……..the seducers.
The question is who’s who? Who’s going to bore you into a catatonically hysterical hypnosis and a £5000 information product credit card bill, leave you neck high in vacuous verbiage and who’s going to share information of genuine worth of real benefit, interest, amusement and value?
Who’s going to waste your time and who going to wise you up?
You’re probably familiar with the John Wanamaker (father of modern advertising according to Wikipaedia) quote “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Well if you substitute the words ‘half’ for ‘90%’, ‘money I spend on advertising’ for ‘stuff I read online’ and the word ‘wasted’ for ‘self aggrandising bullshit designed to make you sleep skip to the money shot where you can’t help but hand over the cash,’ then you will quickly be able to identify the problem we all face.
The difficult realisation I am unfortunately duty bound to share is that there really is no defined, demarked delineation between the two. To one extend or another they map across each other. There’s a reason for this……………………’Me PLC’ or put another way………… life’s a pitch.
But the pitch isn’t for a product or a service, a new this or a new that. It’s not for something that can make your life easier, happier, more productive or more profitable. The pitch is for trust. Trust is the only thing that matters. It’s the only currency of real value. Without trust you’re going nowhere and everyone of these smart marketers know very clearly that trust is the key that will unlock the door to profits. Win trust and you have won.
Me PLC MUST be for real…… or at least appear for real.
And the thing is…….. we’re ALL at it. Everyone does it and we do it all the time. I’m doing it now. Here and now. So please can we just all admit it and stop treating people like they’re plain thick and can’t see what’s going on. There’s only one thing worse than someone trying to take you for a mug and that’s the sheer stupidity of those that do it and have the arrogance to genuinely think you aren’t aware of them trying to do it. The 24 page sales letter, the canny forum post, the ‘geeee Sonia what an AWESOME article, man you ROCK me.’
Even many people’s Twitter persona’s are crafted, chiselled from grins and wishful thinking. A bad thing? No not necessarily. We all adopt personas, espacially in business. ‘Your personal brand is a fictional character. So make it a good one,’ says Nick Usbourne. He also talks about Why we are so susceptible to the idea of buying into get rich quick.
Come on, let’s cut to the chase. I’m telling you straight. I’m telling a tale, I’m shooting the breeze, I’m reeling you in. I’m going to make you trust me if it kills me. Admittedly you’ll have found enough of interest to get you to read this far. And if you’ve read this far you’ll also have noticed that I haven’t invited you to buy anything. I’m not trying to sell you anything…….. yet.
So what’s in it for me that I should be bothered to continue to write at all? After all, the sun’s shining, the birds are singing and there are 1001 better things to do than sit here banging out copy. Is it my ego? Nah…. not really. That I simply enjoy going off on one? Nah. Am I mad? No. Philanthropic? Well I’d like you to believe that.
The actual honest reason, the true hand on heart motivation – one that most web marketers, content marketers and commercial websites actually try to conceal is that I am simply trying to establish a relationship with you. It’s a simple matter of trust. It’s a simple matter content marketing.
Most people think that by admitting this they’re letting the cat out of the bag. That once you know that all they are doing trying to generate trust, that they crave your trust, that YOUR trust is the ONLY thing that gives their business any value, then the scales will fall from your eyes and all the inane, vacuous, patronising, condescending toss they emit will stand exposed. In many cases…. the king is in the altogether.
Honestly they really really don’t want you to see it. I’m going to be straight though.
All I want is your trust. There I said it – All I want is your trust (an email address would be cool but I’m not going to Madoff anybody for one).
I want you to have got something out of this little meeting of minds and feel you’d like to come back. I want you on board. An advocate. I want you to believe in my writing, to believe in me, that I’m capable, can do a job for you… all that sort of stuff. When I hit you with my pitch, which of course I will one day when I get my act together I want you to feel so inclined towards me that you’ll likely say, ‘yeah I’ll go with that, he’s clean, he’s cool. Yeah, Martin Williams is a man I can trust with my brand, with my copywriting, my advertising, with my message. Someone I can do business with.’
You need to know that my work will save you time, represent you creatively, effectively and make you a lot more money than you’ll spend hiring me.
We NEED to inspire trust.
Even more than that, we NEED to be trustworthy.
No trust – no ‘Me PLC’.
Life’s a pitch……..and then you buy.
Thanks to pixeljones for the image via Flickr