What can Madonna and Martha Teach You About Writing Copy?

Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t argue that pop queen Madonna and domestic doyenne Martha Stewart are two master marketers. One is a calculated maverick who’s stayed at what has to be the world’s toughest and most fickle business for nearly a quarter century. The other turned an at-home catering business into a multimedia empire that even a prison term couldn’t derail.

What lessons can we draw from these power players?

Madonna: You know your business best.

Madonna runs a giant organization, but everything she does is based on her own vision. She knows she’s the one who cares the most about her own success, and acts accordingly, which empowers her business. The same holds true for you when you write your own copy. You know your business strengths better than anyone, and, when you master this very learnable skill, you empower your business.

Madonna: Pick what you like and make it your own.

Although she is known as the Queen of Reinvention, Madonna knows no idea is completely new. She gets ideas from an amazing range of sources, from Marilyn Monroe movies to geisha stories to Broadway musicals to what the kids in a Tokyo neighborhood are wearing this week – then she gives it her own spin. Build swipe files (a collection of great copy clipped from all around you) from magazines, direct mail, and even tabloids. Capture great copy you see in daily life, whether it’s a billboard or a picket sign (I keep a spiral-bound deck of index cards handy to jot down these nuggets.) Even if the ad or letter seems way outside your target market, parts of it may be just the kick in the pants your copy needs.

Madonna: Embrace your passions wholeheartedly and without apology.

Madonna would understand your desire to shuck off your current identity and dive into something completely different Nude centerfold to nursery rhyme writer, boy toy to the reincarnation of Queen Esther: she’s leapt even further and thrived just fine. It could be argued that without her continual reinvention, Madonna would be just another ‘Where Are They Now?’ 80’s Pop Tart.

Martha: You are the sole CEO and brand manager of your own life.

Not your boss, your company, your friends, or the people who tell you you can’t do it. Madonna runs her empire modeled after her own vision and values, no matter what those happen to look like this season.

Martha: Publicity is powerful.

Successful entrepreneurs like Martha not only score publicity at crucial moments, they use that attention to get more attention, unleashing a domino effect of business-boosting buzz. She started with a book and put herself out there as an expert on entertaining, which led to appearances on TV, radio…you know the rest of the story. Think of the area where you’re the expert, and start offering to share the (knowledge) wealth with local media. Don’t put off writing that press release a minute longer. With so many publications, e-zines, blogs, sites, podcasts, satellite radio shows out there, the media needs fresh content like never before. They’re all dying to talk about something interesting – so be snappy and interesting!

Martha: Learn something new every day.

Martha closes out all her interviews and shows with this motto, embracing skills too numerous to mention and maintaining curiosity about everything from the names of birds to the best wax to use on your car. Take a look at any of her magazines, and you’ll find yourself drawn into something you never dreamed could be fascinating, thanks to the great copy and stunning design. To build your own business, make it a point to soak in something every day: subscribe to e-zines, browse the bookstore, take a teleseminar or an e-course. When you make the commitment to never stop learning, you put yourself far above the pack.

Madonna AND Martha: When emulating role models, you don’t have to buy the whole package. Both have qualities you can cherry-pick from. Take what you like and leave the rest. Make yourself into the “you” you want to be.

Lorrie Morgan-Ferrero is the author of a highly-acclaimed, award-winning copywriting course and creator of the Red Hot Copywriting Bootcamp. As an international copywriting strategist, author and speaker she teaches you to get the results that you want from your copy. Visit www.red-hot-copy.com for solutions to your marketing needs.