Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The "A" Word

"The point is we are all selling. We are all in advertising. It is part of life." ~ Paul Arden

When someone I just meet asks me what I do, I tell them I'm a copywriter. This usually prompts a "what's that?" and I try in my head to craft this romantic description of what I really do which in its rawest form is advertising. I think about copping out with "I sell stuff" but then commit to my standard elevator pitch: "I help businesses communicate more effectively and build long-term relationships with their customers, thereby increasing their bottom line."

You'll notice nowhere in that descriptor do I use the words "sell" or "advertise" or even "market". Why? Advertising has become a dirty word. It's associated with someone who tries to sell people things they don't want. Having "writer" in my job title has always managed to give me some elevated bohemian status in most people's eyes, but as soon as I start using descriptors like "marketing" or "advertising", I can see the ewww surface in their expressions as they start associating me with the evil salesperson. You know, those sleazy in-your-face jerks who come knocking on your door or call you at that exact moment you sit down to eat dinner? Yeah, I hate them too.

I don't like to be accused of "selling out" because I'm not a 'real journalist' or a 'real writer'. To anyone who has done this, I apologize for becoming a brat and ranting at you, but you kinda deserved it. I've written for newspapers and magazines and non-profits. I've written poetry and short stories. I'm published in local and national publications. I've written for a diverse range of mediums in more forms than I can count. Is the speech I wrote for a college director or the website content I did for a trade company somehow less legit than the article I wrote for a fundraiser? I just don't see how.

I don't like to think of myself as a traditional "salesperson", but yes, I am selling something. I sell the brands, products and services of my clients by telling their stories, using relationship-building strategies and letting everyone know how awesome they are. That's what I'm paid to do and I truly love my job.

The truth is, I believe in advertising. Without it, some of my clients who deserve every success they have achieved would not be where they are today. And in the end, as much as we may hate to admit it, we're all selling something.

Have you ever tried on ten outfits before deciding on the sexy black dress, slathered on lipstick and curled your hair for a first date? Aren't you selling yourself?

Have you cleaned your car before selling it? Aren't you trying to show it at its best?

Do you love yoga and not even hesitate to fork out dough for a membership with your local studio? Have you noticed how they're selling a particular lifestyle and mindset?

Not everyone may be in the advertising and marketing field of work as I am, but whether it's a product, service, impression of oneself or belief system, we're all trying to sell something. And that's perfectly okay.

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