Copywriting “Test”

Had an interview for a Copywriting contract that required a ‘test.’

Here’s the ‘test:’

Create five (5) YouTube Channels that can “go viral,” which, according to this ‘digital marketing agency’ was “20 million views in one week,” with these prompts:

  • Create a “Seek and Find” YouTube channel.
  • Create a “Mouse Maze” YouTube channel.
  • Create a [tween] YouTube channel: “Imagine you are 13 and develop a superpower…”.

I stopped reading the “Test Deliverables” after that because this agency asked for a total of 5 unique YouTube channel ideas, their only instruction to create channels to “go viral, with 20M views weekly.” I hope the absurdity of this request is not lost on you, since about .03% of all YouTube Channels get 1M+ views on any given video.

And remember, this is a Copywriting ‘test,’ not a product development gig, which, seemingly, this marketing agency does not know a BRANDED YouTube channel actually is a product offering, and should be developed and marketed accordingly.

Five, free, viable YouTube channel ideas requiring little copy—this agency did stress an ‘attention-grabbing’ visual—including thumbnail layouts and storyboard drawings. Oh, and they required I sign an NDA saying that whatever I came up with on their ‘test’ was theirs to keep. Five (5). Free Channel ideas. Per applicant.

Their ‘test’ gave no OBJECTIVE for creating these channels—no sales goals for any company, or the channel itself to realize profitability. No reason for asking applicants to create these brain dead types of channels, other than the unmentionable of making the user the PRODUCT by selling their data, then slamming those same users with pay-per-click ads on every webpage visited forward.

The prompts in their ‘test’ were pulled from the latest trending crap on YouTube. The agency asked applicants to pile on more intellectually void baseline garbage to these senseless trending channels, following the Fire, Aim, Ready marketing method of business failure. Clearly this ‘marketing’ agency doesn’t really understand, well, marketing, assuming they were really looking for a copywriter, and not just garnering free content ideas. There are three business MARKETING reasons (not personal, ego-building social sharing) for a YouTube Channel:

  1. As a marketing/branding channel for a business.
  2. As a data collection tool for tightly targeting future marketing campaigns.
  3. Selling collected data to Affliate Marketing brokers.

Applicants for this copywriting gig were not asked to market an offering of value, nor to build a marketing campaign (or YouTube channel) for any specific targets, nor did they instruct applicants to actually create and MARKET (i.e. BRAND) a YouTube channel for any specific business. They are under the delusion if they just get “views,” they’ll get sales, which data shows is a lie (https://freakonomics.com/podcast/advertising-part-2/), promoted by these very ‘digital marketing’ agencies to get clients. (https://www.ippglobal.org/post/truth-about-data-science)

Of course, after reading their ‘test,’ I turned down the prospect of consulting for them. I felt angry though, that they were not only asking for free, unique IP, but also the IP they were asking for was truly thoughtless, flat out bad marketing, sure to put more ‘digital’ garbage on the ever mounting pile of crap already on YouTube. To quell my anger, with my rejection of consulting for their agency, I included an answer to their first prompt:

Create a Hide & Seek” YouTube Channel:

A Year of Free Beer for Finding NAME OF FAMOUS IPA BEER.

AR (augmented reality) game to find the bottle of famous IPA BEER (or any other idiotic thing that’s trending). Everyone 21 or older with mobile can play. AR has NAME OF FAMOUS IPA BEER bottles in places around each major cities, but also standard beer bottles, and area sports team logos, (even cross-sell with image placements) that ‘lead’ you to the ‘right IPA.’ First to find NAME OF FAMOUS IPA BEER (in any given round, which may be a week or more per round) to collect all that global data, (which then can be sold to screw us all further), wins the free beer for a year, every month getting new IPA flavors.

The TARGET USERS of this YouTube Channel will be:

  1. Lowest hanging target is the sudo-intellectual, over-educated ivy-league crowd, mostly White men; Christians, Jews, Agnostics—higher education levels; MMORPG, FPS, and MOD gamer; Software, Marketing, Admin, Finance; STEAM; democrats; mid – upper income; 21 – 60.
  2. Lazy, generally fat, FPS gamers, beer and sports-loving men. White mostly. Conservatives. Apatheist, Christians; low – mid income; blue-collar job; pensions; 18 – 65.

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A True Email Tale

This morning I came into my office and there was an email from my husband. It was title, “The terminator is coming…” No joke. That was the exact SUBJECT LINE of his email.

I don’t care that another Terminator movie is coming out. I liked only the first and second Terminator movies, and thought the rest (and Arnold Schwarzenegger) were crap.

I didn’t open his email. I trashed it. I didn’t see the link he had inside it, but even if I did, I wouldn’t have paid attention it with his email subject line.

As I reviewed my emails, I watched the news, as I do every morning. The segment was on Boston Dynamics, a well-known robotics firm. They were showing off the agility their Atlas robot, doing a back flip! I was so blown away, it looked so real, like a person, I sent the video clip to my husband and kids. My subject line: “Totally cool robot moves!”

My husband sent me back an email, “I sent this video to you this morning.”

Hmm…he did? I didn’t see it.

“It was in the email about the terminator coming,” he wrote. “I guess I gave my email a bad title.”

No shit.

WORDS MATTER! Marketing/Copywriting must choose the RIGHT WORDS for the right audience to get response.

Making It With Your Muse

How do you get good at anything? Practice.

How do you get great? Obsession—Practice most all the time.

Pick any famous author, artist, musician, and they’ll all have obsession in common. And while we, the public, enjoy the fruits of their creative labor, those closest to these individuals were/are generally left wanting.

Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, “was an indifferent and often inattentive father and husband.”

Rod Serling, of Twilight Zone fame, “worked 12 hours a day seven days a week, [and] his wife, Carol, tended to their daughters, Jodi and Anne.”

Adrienne Armstrong, wife of Billy Joe Armstrong of Greenday said of her husband after the release of the album American Idiot, “I think it challenged us to a new level, pushed us pretty far, the farthest I ever want to go.” The creatives above are all men. All married and all had/have children.

Now lets explore a few famous women.

The romance novelist Jane Austen never married. She was, in fact, ‘relieved in later life to have avoided the pitfalls of married life, not least the huge risks of childbirth, “all the business of Mothering.”’

Georgia O’Keeffe, the surrealist artist “wanted to have children but agreed with him [her husband, Alfred Steiglitz] that motherhood was incompatible with her art. She needed to focus all of her attention on her painting.”

Oprah Winfrey, the media mogul has never married, “the very idea of what it means to be a wife and the responsibility and sacrifice that carries — I wouldn’t have held that very well.” And she never had children. “If I had kids, my kids would hate me. They would have ended up on the equivalent of the “Oprah” show talking about me; because something [in my life] would have had to suffer and it would’ve probably been them.”

Ms. Winfrey had the guts to address the unvarnished, unspoken truth when she referred to the “responsibility and sacrifice,” in being a partner and parent. The investment of time, physical and psychic energy it takes to keep a marriage vital, and the even greater demands of being a conscientious parent, interferes, and often waylays the creative process.

Men have historically been the breadwinners in the family environment. And while this trend is slowly changing, the fact is women who seek personal excellence, especially in the arts, often have to choose between pursuing greatness and being, at least, an available partner and parent. Even today, men rarely have to make this choice. Regardless of this disparity, anyone, man or woman, obsessed with becoming great [at anything] should recognize the ‘sacrifice’ and costs to pursuing brilliance.

As a wife, mother, and a writer, my creative muse is constantly vying for prominence over the needs of my husband and especially my children. When my kids were babies, the creative process encountered fewer distractions. I could stay rapt in story, run dialog in my head while changing diapers or pushing them on the swing at the park. Small kids, small problems. Big kids, big issues. Now the parent to a tween and teen, my siren is often overwhelmed by the very real traumas and trials of adulthood my children face every day. To help them navigate these tumultuous times, I question, probe, even invade their space to stay connected, be there for them as a sounding board, a trusted confidant to lean on, to envelope them in a hug and hold them when they’re falling.

I chose to marry, to have kids. And while I willingly choose to be present, available for my family, forfeiting the relentless pursuit of my creativity is a battle I engage in daily. Much of my fiction focuses on this internal war, as in my novel Reverb, through James Whren’s obsession with his music, the cost to the lives he touched and the price he eventually paid absorbed in making it with his muse. My recent novel, Disconnected, explores the propaganda of the 1960s still being sold today, as Rachel struggles with the reality that we can’t ‘have it all,’ be everything we want to be, and still be there for our kids and family.

We glorify the brilliant author, the renown artist, successes in business, often secretly wish to be one of the famous. But to become great at anything means obsessively working at the job or craft, honing a skill set with relentless practice, which is the fundamental reason why genius is so rarely achieved. The price those who solely engage with their creative muse must pay is actualizing a full and balanced life.

Marketing Fiction

Am I two inches from the floor I can’t see, or the next step is a 200 ft drop? Nik Wallenda
Been fighting myself over this since i started writing fiction. I face this battle every goddamn time I sit in front of my laptop, the cursor blinking at me, waiting patiently for me to decide if should quit fine writing today, and go back to writing copy, because unlike continuing to write fiction, a ‘real’ job will get my kids through college.
Then the voice of Fantasy taunts: “It is possible, if you keep writing and marketing, that you’ll get well known enough to make a living as a fine writer…I could be an inch from the ground…it’s possible…”

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