B-to-B Insights: Sometimes Old-School Is Better
The search engine Google is a boon to freelance copywriters, giving us fast access to much more information than we could ever dig up at those old-fashioned data depositories we used to call "libraries." As a result, it's easier to write stronger copy today, because specifics sell, and Google gives us all the specifics we need.
For instance, I recently wrote a promotion for a brand of omega-3 fish oil that advertised how the oil was harvested only from wild-caught, and not farmed, fish. So, in my copy I had to make the case that oil from farmed fish is less healthy. To support my effort, I found a fascinating fact on Google that I used in my copy to good effect: Farm-raised salmon are dyed pink to fool the consumer into thinking they were wild-caught, and the dye can damage the human retina. Strong stuff.
Writing the Same Old, Tired Copy
However, great as Google is, I think it also has made many writers lazy and lowered the quality of many articles being written today. "How so," you ask.
Twenty-first century writers are lazy. Give them an article assignment on topic X to write. They Google X, lift stuff from half a dozen articles they find on X, and cobble them together into a new article on X. But the new article contains no new information. It's just warmed-over Internet research, repackaged.
6 Examples of Research Done Right
I started writing as an amateur in the 1960s, and professionally in the late 1970s. And back then, writers and copywriters did research on a much deeper level that gave us an in-depth understanding of the topic you cannot get just from reading articles online.
For instance, in 1979 I wrote a feature article for the Baltimore City Paper on stock car racing. To research the article, I went to the track, sat in the bleachers, and watched the races for an evening.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.