Copywriting and the Other Kind of Model


Think copywriting, and you likely picture shots of glamorous models with pithy slogans.

I think of a different model: the business model. Cold, exacting, and anything but glamorous!

In Dominic Gettins’s How to Write Great Copy, I picked up some ideas that I can apply directly to my job as a business analyst: a job involving the “other kind of model.”

People use what’s helpful… sometimes it’s a model. 

People read what interests them, and sometime’s it’s an ad.  – Howard Gossage

People don’t care about what agency wrote the copy or which markets they’re targeting. They don’t even care if it’s an ad. They just want to see interesting stuff.

The same is true with data analysis. It’s easy to get too focused on presenting the mechanics of the model and not why it is useful. Solid methodology is essential but best left behind closed doors. Your users want what interests them — what will help them.

I love the analogy of a model as a pair of glasses — they are meant to be lookedthrough, not at. Like good copy, a good model is primarily focused on delivering value — not on making a point of clever data tactics. 

Hack slowly

Sorry for the vulgar expression. But is there a better way to put it?

Avoid like genital warts the temptation to begin writing. – Neil French

I call this the Abraham Lincoln approach to data. Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

You might think the best approach to copywriting is to well, write copy. But it is more important to understand what the audience is after, which medium is best, and how to structure a campaign. If you just start writing, you’ll get something wordy that doesn’t convey the right message.

Similarly in data analysis, you may be tempted to start running regressions immediately. Avoid the urge! Frame the problem first. Identify independent and dependent variables. Think through hidden relationships. Then move onto the model. 

Emphasize the benefits, not the solution

You talk the same language as your audience and you’re guaranteed a hearing.                   – Dominic Gettins

Your user cares more about your solution’s benefits than the actual solution itself.

Gettins has a great example: Why do deodorant commercials often feature fawning young women? Isn’t deodorant about smelling better?

 But for the young man, smelling good is just a means to an end. “It is perfectly obvious,” Gettins writes, “that the major motivator in a young male’s life is not deodorization, but rather the benefits of deodorization.”

Think of your model as deodorant for your user. Your user doesn’t necessarily care that deodorant will make him smell better. He cares that girls will find him less repulsive when he wears deodorant.

Copywriting fascinates me — it is such a mesh of psychology, business, and art. Thanks to Gettins, I think of more than attractive models. I think of ugly models — data models! So goes the mind of an analyst.

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