If the purpose of marketing copy is to infuse a campaign with clarity and freshness or to make a product stand out from the crowd, why does so much of it sound the same?
This blandness of writing is particularly telling in hi-tech, where the veneer of "professionalism" and "best practices" masks ignorance and laziness. While jargon and buzzwords are the touchstone of any industry, they fail to communicate to neophytes and outsiders and tell nothing new to those in the know. Yet, collateral in hi-tech is rife with them.
Why is this? Marketing writing is one of the few professions where the pitch is also the product; a writer's ability to sell himself corrolates to his ability to sell a product. So programmed are copywriters to the process of pitching that, for many, it is what they do best. Simply by relying on a strong ability to pitch, a writer can generate so much work as to require sub-contractors. At best, clients are adding another harried individual to the in-house staff of editors.
In crunchtime, how does an editor operate? By making do with the tried and true. Which is easier: 1) digging through a product, its specs, and its documentation or 2) "massaging" some other source? The net result is a churning of someone else's buzz, a superficial treatment of your project, and a misguided belief that the job has been done well.
You're paying for freshness, clarity, and perspective. Insist on delivery of all three.
Ask Your Marketing Writer:
1. To reveal his current client load. If he hesitates to say, adjust everything upward. And push in your deadlines because he will push them out.
2. To learn your product. For many marketing writers, learning products is not part of the package, as time spent on learning is time lost at the bottom line. Find someone with a technical background and a vested interest in learning new technologies. If he can't see the value of the time investment, maybe he doesn't understand value.
3. To know the niche. Before he writes a word for you, your writer should be able to write a few about your competitors, their products, current trends, and emerging needs. If he can't, he should be committed to reaching that level of competence.
4. To imagine a better way to do it. While you may have already chosen your approach, let the writer do a little thinking for you. Even if you stay the course, your writer searching new terrain may bring back a gem or two for you.
5. To maintain a level of professionalism and good cheer. With so much riding on the results, you need a strong attention to detail, professional courtesy, and a willingness to work until the job is done. Insist on them. In a pleasant voice, of course.