As I was dabbling in my less-than-efficient-use-of time on Facebook, following social news on my college campus, I was whisked away by an intriguing ad for a Kopywriting Kourse by appsumo. I probably sport a lower click through rate on Facebook ads than most users, so when I see a good one (not ‘mingle with hot christian singles’ with giant cleavage girl) my dwell time is pretty focused. Based on my personal information, Facebook knows I’m into advertising and I have to thank appsumo for a refreshing strategy; it’s content really engaged me for quite a while, even though I didn’t make a purchase.
The content was about how to write differently, avoiding common business buzz words and sounding dry. It referenced NY Times’s, “Funny or Die, Groupon’s Fate Hinges on Words,” and it taught me some valuable lessons about how to write online- especially in social. This is the line that re-established one of my own strongest theories about advertising.
“People have grown numb to the elements of advertising that pander to their fears and hopes, that insult their intelligence with safe, bland approaches at creativity, says Mr. With, who at nights and on weekends is lead singer in the band Volcano. We’re mixing business with art and creating our own voice.”
This is why starving artists, liberal arts majors (those people your Dad told you not to be when you grow up) know what people want in copywriting. I recently asked IQ CEO Tony Quin what undergrad studies are most useful to prepare for an agency career. His answer blew me away. He listed humanities, literature, sociology, psychology, and the arts in general. Some degrees that Utah Senator Howard Stephenson recently deemed “degrees to nowhere.”
These degrees have indirectly led hundreds of people to jobs at Groupon, which basically believes writing without personality is a waste of everyone’s time. Keith Griffith, director of recruiting said to NY Times, “A lot of professional writers apply here. I’ve had applicants from Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, but it’s really hard to get them to do what we’re looking for. It’s easier to teach people than unteach them.”
Groupon is one of the fastest start-ups of all time with a recent offer for $6 Billion from Google and annual earnings of over $1 Billion in a crowded discount business that has been attempted hundreds of times and failed almost as many. It claims it’s success almost completely in it’s tasteful, humorous, witty writing.
People really have grown numb to traditional messaging that “pander(s) to their fears and hopes,” and are ready to connect with authentic, honest, and transparent brands; brands that help people, provide for and educate them, and most importantly, listen and genuinely care about them.