B-to-B Insights: Sometimes Old-School Is Better
Then I went deeper: I interviewed the track manager who had the important job of keeping the track surface in optimal condition for racing. I interviewed fans, drivers and mechanics. The top driver let me sit in the passenger seat after the races and took me around the track fast, so I could feel and understand the bumps and bruises the drivers were subjected to. This is something you can't get from Googling "stock car racing."
Another time, I visited a plant that made reverse osmosis filtration systems for water treatment. I watched the engineer pour dirty water in one end and hold a glass in front of the exit pipe, which produced clear, clean water. He drank it. So did I. And I knew firsthand how sweet the water tasted.
For Westinghouse, I had to write a brochure about the TPS-43 radar, sold primarily to airports for air traffic control. I suspect many copywriters today would just ask the client for specs and other documentation.
I drove to the nearby BWI airport, which had a TPS-43 installed and got permission to climb inside the small room atop the air traffic control tour where it was housed, and watched the gear spin the radar dish. To get some interesting shots, the Westinghouse photographer and I stood on the runway as planes landed to the left and right of us with the spinning radar in front of us. I had a Westinghouse engineer open the panel of a unit on the shop floor and explain to me all the major components.
In the 1980s, when I wrote a lot of copy for PC software, the software came with warranty cards the users had to fill out to activate their warranties. On the cards, the software publishers left space and asked for comments about the product. I wrote many successful software ads and mailings using comments taken from these warranty cards.
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.