- Our Approach
The Cranky Communicator: Can't anyone around here write decent copy?
One of the most nettlesome characteristics of advertising agencies is their almost universal inability to write accurate much less effective copy. It drove my son-in-law to distraction when he was a product manager; it inspired me to leave the warm bosom of a cushy corporate job to start my own advertising agency.
Honestly, few of us expect our agencies' "creative teams" to rival the craftsmanship of a Virgil, Dante or Milton. But couldn't they occasionally (or just once) produce copy that adequately captured the selling benefits of our products and services? Couldn't they provide a manuscript requiring only editing rather than a complete rewrite? Doesn't it gall you that after several more agency iterations you end up writing the copy yourself? And then the final coup de grâce: you get billed for copywriting. Ugh!
Why does this happen again and again no matter how hard you try to steer your account manager in the right direction? There are several reasons. Frankly, many agencies are simply incompetent in the skills of communication. They have traded in these competencies to become "strategic marketing partners." Proficiency in planning matrices (and corporate claptrap) have replaced design and writing creativity with often frustrating consequences.
Another reason is the structure of the agency itself. Typically, your account manager shows up in your office, diligently takes copious notes and returns to the agency where the information is dumped on to an itinerant copywriter or a clueless intern who has no idea what a milliamp is much less a potentiometer. And since the account exec has no idea either, you have an absolute zero chance of receiving back satisfactory copy.
So what is the solution? You can do your best to choose an agency that has demonstrated compentency in promoting your types of products and services. During the review process, you can interview the account manager, creative and art directors, copywriters who will be working on your projects to determine if they have the aptitude and, more importantly, the attitude to be effective members of your marketing team. And you can educate these people by inviting them to attend the next sales school at their cost.
The bottom line is this: it takes a lot of mental discipline, natural inquisitiveness and plain hard work on the agency's part to become an effective marketing communications partner. An agency that is willing to invest its human capital in the proposition of professionally serving your company's promotional needs is a partner worth nurturing. And as an added bonus, you'll be doing a whole lot less copywriting.