Today’s letter is going to be a delish treat for EVERY copywriter standing cold and stiff in the face of micro-blogging trend sweeping over the interest.
To put this into context, let’s start with a little statement by Nicola Mendelssohn, who leads Facebook’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa:
“The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video. It conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information.”
What about us, writers?
Well, she did have an advice for us.
Start writing for video.
Or, are we as writers doomed?
I say utter bollocks!
Ha-ha … I see some cheerful hooting and clapping at the back, but most of you evidently are not convinced yet.
When 55 percent of people on internet watch videos and even the very word “video” in the email subject line shoots up the open rates by a whopping 19 percent (that’s huge in copywriting world), you have every right to feel scared, my friend.
Is the art of writing really on the decline?
No, absolutely not.
I will start by talking about a simple fact (or let’s say an undeniable truth) first.
What do you think is the most powerful weapon you got?
What have the likes of Cicero, Antonius, Lincoln and Obama in common?
Did they take mind-blowing pictures that spoke more than a thousand words?
Did they present us with heart-warming animated videos?
No, their most potent secret weapon was WORDS.
The Power Of Language
Only words have the power to weave magic on human minds. And nothing else.
And as you can guess already…
Writers yield the power of language.
Whether it’s a novel, a magazine editorial or a video sales letter, it’s always the words of a writer shining through in all its glory. Words are integral to almost everything we do, and that’s how deeply entwined is the art of writing in our daily lives.
And behind every informative podcast or highly engaging video, there is someone, unknown, unsung or forgotten, typing furiously on the MS Word document in his dark, dingy room. (For the curious ones, mine is small but well-lit )
Frankly speaking, I don’t care whether eight out of ten 18-to-49 year olds watch YouTube in an average month or that Snapchatters share 10 billion videos a day.
From a copywriter’s perspective, it doesn’t mean a damn thing.
You know why?
For the sole reason that while pictures and videos can entertain us, they CANNOT sell.
For sales, you need hard-hitting “words” rooting into your audience, working a deep, subtle and frankly, unstoppable influence on them.
Think about any photo you liked very much. You were probably standing in front it appreciating its mesmerising beauty. “God! How beautiful” you gasp out. Totally understandable because we all have been there.
But step back now. Did you even think of buying something at that moment? Anything?
Of course, not. You were just soaking in the value of that piece of CONTENT.
That’s right. It’s only content—nothing more that.
How about those awesome animated pictures on YouTube? Heck! Since we are talking of animated videos, let’s borrow the very best from the shelf.
How about the recent The Beauty and The Beast? Such a lovely production! I love cartoon movies, and I fell in love with this one. In case you are wondering, no, it didn’t influence me to purchase anything. It just “entertained” me. Read that again. It ENTERTAINED me.
Neither the most beautiful pictures nor the most amazing animated productions force me towards a sale. No, even if the hero of the movie washes his clothes with Tide powder, it does not coax me to buy it.
Beside that picture, you need a little punch line that gives you the push towards the sales funnel.
Inside the video, the narrator’s script gradually takes you through the buyer’s journey to the point of no return.
Even if we forget about the selling part, I will point your attention to the most singular flaw of a video. It’s that a video is essentially a “movie”. It doesn’t come as a collection of single pages. Unlike a book where you can tear off a page and make sense out of it, you cannot do likewise in a video. A video is a sequence of moments. These moments constitute the proper context without which there exists no meaning in disintegration.
Citing Robin Hardman in her blog post:
A video organizes the information for me, in a way I may not want it organized, forcing me to wade through a lot of stuff I’m not interested in without being sure I’ll find the information I do want. I want a piece of text that I can search, skim, or read end to end, as I please. I want to control the pace, not have someone else’s idea of pacing fed to me in video form.
(Of course, you want to control the pace, honey. I understand If she is reading this, hope she doesn’t mind the joke.)
As one of the popular content marketers today, Ann Handley, says, “Sometimes you want sprinkles. Sometimes you don’t.” True that.
Liraz Margalit, a web psychologist at ClickTale, wrote that watching a video and reading an article are different “cognitive functions.”
Along the same lines, Phil Rosenthal wrote in the Chicago Tribune that reading demands one’s cognitive system do more heavy lifting and requires committed engagement, she said. Watching video is largely passive and is quicker to make an emotional connection.
And just know that howsoever technology improves or new content formats emerge, reading as an event will not perish. Because it’s hardwired inside us.
We read not because we choose to. We read because it makes us complete as a human being. And if reading exists, writing needs to exist too. Do you now see how the whole universe is connected?
Look, as a consumer, speaking from my POV, I do all. I read. I listen to podcasts. I watch videos. Everything.
Some things are better understood when read gradually in minuscule byte form.
Some things are better experienced when they are accompanied with a lot of visual action.
Some things are better absorbed when listened through the headphones alone.
To sum up, in terms of selling products and services for businesses, writing is simply NOT a choice.
You just cannot do without it.
And even outside the practical realm of marketing and sales, you, as a writer, are a creator in your own right. You create art with words in print.
It will exist as long as we exist.
Thumbs up to writers…everywhere.
We are immortal. We live forever.