As a copywriter with a few years of solid experience under my belt, I've encountered briefs of all shapes and sizes. Some of them are a paint by numbers affair, with the client providing all the guidance and detail I need to deliver precisely what they want. Others are more flexible and open-ended, allowing me to stretch my creative wings and take the initiative. In almost all cases, I run into the same issue - my clients are terrified of breaking the rules. Here's why breaking the rules is sometimes a good thing...
The internet is a noisy place. In any given location or any niche that exists on the web, there are thousands of businesses competing for impressions, clicks and conversions.
They want your money. Of course they do. They're businesses. There's nothing inherently wrong with a business wanting people's money, but the way they go about earning that money has changed enormously over the years. It's my opinion that in the past decade, this has changed more than ever before. Never before have so many businesses been able to position themselves in front of so many people at the same time.
Before I go on, I have a confession to make. I'm a copywriter that doesn't believe in cold, hard selling. I've written for some of the biggest brands in the world in a variety of industries, and never have I been more uncomfortable than when writing copy where the sole and solitary objective was, 'sell fast, sell hard'.
Come on, you know what I'm talking about.
'10 reasons why your content marketing is failing!' or '5 guaranteed ways to instantly increase landing page conversion!'
I've been bemoaning the increasing use of these so-called listicles (*shudder*) for some time on Twitter, much to the annoyance of my followers I'm sure. I guess they started out earnestly enough; how-to guides conveniently crafted to offer step-by-step instructions on how to achieve something. Once upon a time, these types of articles had a good home and we knew exactly what we were getting when we clicked on one. Then modern day content marketing happened.
I'm not some scrooge here to argue that SEO and other marketing tactics inherently reduce the quality of content (though they certainly go against the grain in a lot of cases). In fact, it's my job as a copywriter to navigate the plains of digital marketing, delivering valuable content that can weather the storm of meta-tags, keyword ratios and calls-to-action, and I firmly believe it's possible - even necessary.
But in my humble opinion, listicles (I've made my peace with the word) encourage poor content, and we're seeing a lot of it.