Monday, May 01, 2006

The Diary Of A 21-st Century Adman

I've just discovered The Diary Of A 21-st Century Adman, the blog of copywriter Scott L Haines.

It's interesting to see the traditional long-copy style of a direct marketing copywriter morph into the more personal, frank and unpolished style of a blog.

As a copywriter, I learnt a lot about the "classic direct marketing" style of writing, but I could also see that the web was spawning a whole different style of communication.

"Classic DM" is effective - it's tested, after all, so if it wasn't effective, people wouldn't use it - but there's something about it that makes me uncomfortable.

It's hard to put my finger on why it makes me uncomfortable, so here are a few uneasy stabs in the dark as to why:
  • It claims to be written to the individual, yet it is actually mass-produced, assuming the motivations and intents of a segment of the population. Segmentation isn't the same as writing to an individual.

  • It idolises the letter as the "control package" for marketing, even though barely anyone sends letters anymore. Except for businesses.

  • You never know when the writer is being genuine, or when they are being calculatedly familiar with you.
Now all of this is gross generalisation, and the same or worse accusations could be turned towards more bloggy methods of marketing.

But it's encouraging to see what Scott has done:

* He's told a story where he made a mistake. That says to me a) he's human, and b) I'll learn from his mistake.

* His blog is open to comments - pretty essential for a blog. However, comments are moderated, and when I visited there were no comments showing.

* You can subscribe to the blog. However, not by RSS, which is the most sensible way to subscribe. So, this sort of confirms my theory that the marketing geniuses of "classic direct marketing" may struggle to understand actual behaviour on the web.

Of course, I may be wrong with this. In the end, whoever has the greatest pay packet from their web marketing efforts wins.

But if it comes to a choice between communicating on a real level, and obfuscating to facilitate a mere transaction, I'll choose the former.


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