Breakthrough Creative Copywriting

When I recently created a website with a free “Breakthrough Thinking” newsletter, my informal network of colleagues they immediately showered me with positive accolades, a popular marketing site immediately featured the newsletter, and an outplacement firm asked me to present it as a powerful networking tool. 40% of subscribers signed up a friend after the first issue was released.

However, when I attempted to update my resume, it was a completely different story. I sent the first draft to my colleagues and received a string of reprimands: it’s too long, it’s too short, it seems flat, it seems flashy.

Furiously, I made the changes, plus added pretty little stars in place of bullets, hot new buzz words and power phrases. I even changed the format three times. Yet, despite all the redecorating, it always remained the same document.

What was going on? I had written hundreds of successful promotions, and everyone liked the site and newsletter. Why was the resume falling flat on its face after each rewrite?

And then it hit me – a “breakthrough copywriting” insight!

….. Everything else that I wrote was about something outside of me, for the benefit of the reader. So, I decided to write the resume in the third person. Digging up old customer testimonials and letters of recommendation, I visualized these past employers being interviewed by someone like Larry King.

Leaning forward on his desk, you can easily imagine Larry posing the question, “So, what did Jeff REALLY do for you … your customers … your organization?”

Gulp. Yet, when I started thinking about the net value my projects delivered for others – and from THEIR PERSPECTIVE, a vast hidden line of thought surfaced in my mind. Facts that lay limp on the page suddenly materialized into a story … one that unveiled a clear chronology of challenges, actions and results.

Once finished, I hurriedly rushed it out to my network. This time I left off the fanfare – and just politely asked for feedback.

The result? Most everyone quickly responded, saying things like: “Hey – this is much better!” and “I didn’t know you did this … why didn’t you tell me before?” Better yet, they forwarded the resume to others without artificial reinforcement.

Interesting story – but how does it apply to marketing?

First, it’s a good reminder how much we, as practitioners, need to add PEOPLE to the 4 proverbial P’s of marketing. Without genuine focus on the perspective of the end user, we’re merely paying lip service to deaf ears. The 4 P’s are transactional; they only come alive when guided by a “relational” mindset.

Second, the amateur copywriter tries to impress the reader; the professional works hard to REFLECT the reader. The first approach needs only ego, the second requires humility. You can guess which delivers the better outcome.

Finally, relevance sells better than persuasion. People resist being sold anything. Yet, they love buying everything. The simplest offer, effectively addressing a recognized need or want, can produce higher responsiveness than the most cleverly devised ad.

So the next time your banging out an ad – or resume – stop yourself from marching down the 4 P’s path before first interviewing the end user. Your dialog can be real or imaginary; simply pause to honestly reflect on what the reader wants, and how your message helps them achieve it better.

And that’s when the magic of “breakthrough copywriting” occurs.

Jeff Kuzmich is a marketing professional, leading direct and Internet marketing projects for a variety of companies. He holds an MBA in Marketing and is the author of the “Breakthrough Thinking” Newsletter. He can be reached at: