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July 23, 2011
Get Your A$$ Back to Class: The Value of Lifelong Learning
You’ve spent years honing your skills as a creative. You’ve taken writing classes, design classes, and presentation classes; written papers, done studies, published pieces, designed layouts, etc. What more could there be?
The truth is, at the heart of advertising are the people we advertise to. To speak to people, we must know people. We need to understand what makes them tick. In order to do that, there is most often additional studying/research that needs to be done. Yes, you can look over the research findings about the target audience for whatever your latest project is, but to be good — really good — you need to delve deeper.
As a copywriter, I’ve spent hours upon years studying people. I’ve taken psychology courses, read books, examined published papers, and so on. It’s important to me. When I first started out, I wanted to be a “tagline” copywriter. “I’m witty,” I thought. “How cool would it be to make a career out of it?” As I got into the business, however, I realized that all those lines weren’t originated by accident (well, some were). They were created by someone who was able to articulate a message that resonated with a specific group of people. That message, to sound a bit trite, was speaking to each of the targets individually. It motivated them in a very specific way; a way that most of them don’t even realize. THAT’S what makes a good copywriter.
So, coming back to the point: part of my unwritten “job description” is to identify what makes people tick and speak to them in that language; all in an effort to get them to take action. Phew, that’s a mouthful...but it’s the truth. If my job is to influence people to take an action, then my goal should be to understand what makes them do that in an everyday setting. Knowing that gives me the ability to “naturally” get them to react versus using a blatant marketing jargon approach.
The bad news for those looking for a career in copywriting: Ad school is not enough. You must know people. The good news: Your career will feel like gameplay and you’ll rarely spend a day dreading going to work.
Or, you can go get a real job. 

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Rena Prizant  is an award-winning copywriter, creative, and mammal in Chicago; she's been professionally word playing for the past ten years. If there are ideas and words to be created, she’s your gal. She’s got you covered with concept development, messaging, creative leadership, and SEO. Just tell her what you want to say, she’ll write it for you…any way. Read www.ConceptsAndWords.com and follow @ConceptsNWords.
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