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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

What are you? Amateur, professional or semi-pro? Go the whole hog!

Two days ago I got a message from someone who described themselves as an auto-responder copywriter. I raised my eyebrows so far they almost reached where my hairline would be if I had any hair. This is specialisation gone mad.

Nevertheless it may work, and the message reminded me that a couple of weeks back someone wrote asking for my views on copywriters specialising in certain fields, such as investment or health.

I’m afraid I was a bit dismissive. To me copywriters are either professional or not. Professional writers can write about anything in any medium for any audience. The rest - the semi-pros - can’t. I will ignore the complete amateurs, who are, happily for the rest of us, the overwhelming majority.

I realise this will sound a bit self-serving, but in the last 24 hours I have worked on stuff for a firm advising accountants on the coming pension changes, one that sells saddles to top riders, another that sells property in Singapore and one in Slovenia that sells electronic candles in Italy.

The one I enjoyed most was the last because you just couldn’t make it up. Also I think it's the best copy I've written for a while

This question of amateur or professional is on my mind a lot, and I was reminded of it, believe it or not, because a friend from Spain sent me a whole Jabugo ham yesterday. (Jabugo, if you didn’t know, is surely the best ham in the world – and certainly the most expensive).

Have I gone mad? Why did ham remind me of the amateur/professional gap? Because I have in my files a brilliant Spanish mailing – about 15 years old – to sell a complete pig.

It is brilliant not just because of the copy or design, but because of the idea – which showed a rare understanding of what marketing is about; an understanding almost always lacking in amateur copywriters – and most marketing directors, but let’s not go there.

The proposition was not just “buy our great ham”. It was, “You can buy this entire pig, month by month.”

This is an idea as old as the book club concept - the modern continuity deal - first introduced in 1930 by Max Sackheim and Harry Sherman. But only a professional could have come up with it.

And I should add that the pig in question was of course a Pata Negro, the unique kind that produces the Jabugo ham my friend Jose sent me yesterday. These porcine aristocrats are so pampered that each one has a whole hectare to graze on. You can see a few at the top under the kindly eye of their owner.

Would you like to meet a man who sends good stuff to people he likes? Well, Jose was at my branding event in Leicester and is coming to Bristol for the copy day on June 30th. I think there are now 5 seats left.

And if you want to have a complete professional understanding of marketing then you can get a hell of deal on www.eadim.com if you come to Bristol.

By the way, are you wondering what impelled Jose to find his way from Valencia to Leicester (a nightmare trip)?

He saw a video of me speaking at Brighton University 20 years ago which he says he has watched at least 30 times – and which helped him build one of the biggest car hire firms in Spain called www.doyouspain.com. A site many people could learn from.

If you meet him, be careful. The man can really hold his liquor.

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