|Finding the creative ‘Muse’
Mike Druttman, Copywriter
Marketing writing today is a challenge. You need to find the special approach that will encourage people to give you a second look. That often means ‘Finding the Muse’ - the flash of inspiration that will allow you to stand out.
Have you noticed that many more people now work in the ‘Communications’ business than, say, 20 years ago? Even if you’re not promoting something for somebody else, you need to do it for yourself and your business.
With all the latest communication gizmos around and the ease of the Internet, information has never been easier to find - or harder to present well! The point is that everyone is trying to present their case alongside you, so the bar gets raised on professionalism. Who get the most attention? It’s the guys with the more refined and creative approach.
As an enterprise looking to attract attention and business from international markets, you need your English communications to be professional and have panache. At some point or other, the Muse will have to start working. Why? Because it is creativity and an original approach that makes the difference in the end.
The Muses were Greek goddesses, daughters of Zeus, who presided over the Arts and Sciences. If they sent you their inspiration, you’d be able to come up with that brilliant idea that was escaping you all day - or suddenly find the answer to a nagging problem. Something like being touched with a magic wand. The point I’m making is that you should be prepared to invite the Muse into your work.
Left-brain and right-brain
They say that there are two types of people around: the left-brainers who are good in analytics, metrics and the use of logic; and the right-brainers who are creative, more airy-fairy types. Well, thank goodness for that!
Being in the copywriting business, I reckon that I’m much more of a right-brainer - so I’m grateful to a sympathetic left-brainer when I get stuck with a computer problem. Tap, tap, tap they go…and it’s fixed! Of course, it works the other way too. The ‘techies’ like what I write for them because I guess I have a way with words that they can’t quite manage themselves. That’s all very well, but you also need to be touched by the Muse sometimes.
I believe that there’s always something special to be found in what people do, but often it needs to be researched a bit and thought about. In many cases you need to imagine that you are stepping into your customers’ shoes: How do they see what you are offering? Is it interesting or unusual enough? What can you propose that’s special and challenging?
You could say that the Muse is a state of mind. You raise the level of your expectations, demanding to create something eye-catching and thought-provoking. We live in such an ‘instant satisfaction’ world that everyone wants to produce a message TODAY and get it out, never mind the quality. So there’s a lot of mediocrity around - as well as a lot of potential customers who get turned off by standard, boring messages. It’s time to jazz things up.
Conquering the blank screen
As a writer, I can tell you that I’ve called upon the Muses a lot - especially when I start a new project and stare in front of a blank page (or a blank screen as it is today). How do I find the interesting angles? Where do I dig to find that special ‘something’ that I can hook a good idea on? Hellooo, Muse …where are you?
I look at other people’s work, on and off the Web, to see if it inspires me. I dig into the background of my client’s business, trying to better understand the world that they live in. I play the ‘distance game’ - standing back and looking at things as if I was a critical journalist. All this helps to get a sense of perspective.
Short and strong
Keeping texts short is a good discipline to maintaining reader interest. If you need to condense a 1000 word text into 250 words, you can be sure that only the most interesting bits remain. Appealing headlines, subheads and call-out texts are also important - any daily newspaper will show you why. If you have a web site or multi-page brochure, you also need to ensure that all these headlines, taken together (like links in a chain), are capable of summarizing your story.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s a question of expectations and perhaps mostly of self-expectations: wanting to do something different and unusual. The Muse is waiting there, in the wings of your consciousness. Inviting her can take some time. But when she comes (and given enough effort, she always does), you’ll notice the change straight away - and so will your prospective customers.
About the author
Mike Druttman is a senior copywriter with great experience in Marketing Communications. He is still fascinated by the power of words and the voyage of discovery that accompanies each new client project. He’s based in Israel. His website is www.futureweb.ws