Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Making things legible.

With the exception of one client from over thirty years ago, I've always done a pretty good job of working with people. (That one client, by the way, was dating a nominal Hollywood star. When my partner and I presented storyboards that didn't feature her, he threw us to the wind.)

Over the years, regardless of how well I've gotten along with clients, I've become convinced of something that might be considered damning.

I believe most clients can't read.

I don't mean they can't read a newspaper or even a novel. I mean that when they read decks or copy, they are so focused on finding things that are wrong, that they forget comprehension and they make the mistake of looking at individual words, not whole thoughts. 

That's like looking at a painting by Paul Signac or Georges Seurat and seeing the brushstrokes and not the entire work. 

I've noticed, for instance, that it's not unusual for a client to see the word "don't" in your ad and deem the ad, therefore, negative. Or that they're quick to point out that all seven single-key-ideas that they've decided must go in the ad are not in your first sentence. Therefore, your copy is wrong. 

Good copy (or writing) is like a good cup of coffee, glass of wine or piece of chocolate. You should let it sit on your tongue for a while and see if it fills you up. But too often, people are reading copy when they're doing nine other things. They aren't clear, they aren't focused and they want everything, including the last sentence and call to action, first.

Since I've been out on my own--it's been almost 30 months now--I've learned a few things.

Some time ago, I stumbled upon this, which I've rewritten:

Clients are in meetings all day every day. It’s just the way things are. Therefore, I suggest a 50-20-10 rule.

50-word emails.

20-minute meetings.

10-slide decks.

Of course, there are clients who can handle more complexity than that--and it's not disparaging to say they can't. Most people however are doing twelve things at once. They're being pinged, pinged and pinged. Someone's talking to them from across the room. They have 11 to-do's. A kid is screaming in the next room. And they're late for their next seven Zoom calls. Not to mention, they might have a sick parent, a child calling from college, a boss who's all over the place, dinner to get on the table and another amerikan mass-murder to mourn.

In the 30 months I've been running GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company, I've gotten good at running ads for myself. I've written maybe 300 and they average about 30,000 views each. That's nine-million media impressions. And those impressions have earned me a decent amount of business and revenue.

I realized that since I run my ads only on LinkedIn, they have to be bold and fast. I'm not expecting anyone to "buy off the page." I just want people to maybe smile a bit, think about how "I get it," and for when the time comes, to remember my name.

I realize GeorgeCo., LLC, a Delaware Company is one of only nine agencies in existence that hasn't, this year, been named "Agency of the Year." Maybe that's because some of the ads I do suck. Or maybe because my ads have yet to solve the problems of carbon capture, child trafficking, or talk about the latest Oreo filling (sardine and musk-melon.) 

My bad. But to my eyes, these ads of mine solve a few problems. They're easy to read. They say something. They seem "ownable." They get me business. And the viewer knows what to do.

I realize none of those attributes are what advertising is about anymore. Clearly my ads hearken back to an earlier time when impact, communication and persuasion were important. Too bad. Because they're the best I can do.


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