Would an advice columnist make the best marketer/copywriter?

What’s the best background to become a marketer/copywriter?

Perhaps one would have a duel major in journalism and marketing, followed by a couple of years in a sales job.

But it really isn’t so. I’ll argue that an advice columnist would be the best background.

In Chicago, 1983. Eppie Lederer, known as Ann ...
Image via Wikipedia

Why? The answer is in the definition. According to Wiki, “An advice columnist answers readers’ queries on personal problems.”

In my youth, I would read both Ann Landers and Dear Abby. These were sisters, who worked at the Chicago Sun Times and Chicago Tribune. Let’s get back to our main comparison – advice columnist and marketer/copywriter.

They’re both experts on personal problems.

There’s all kinds of problems both deal with.

  • Many folks need help with relationship problems.
  • Some have financial issues
  • Others have problems at work
  • Yada, Yada, Yada

Now the advice columnist will consult a team of expert advisers. The team may include medical doctors, psychologists, financial advisers, etc. The marketer will conduct research and profile their idea client – what are their likes and dislikes, habits, age, etc.

There’s only one important different. The marketer will be trying to convince the reader of one thing. That their product or service, holds the solution to the person’s problems.

Both gain a person’s trust

After a while, you come to rely on what someone like Ann Landers or Dear Abby said. It’s not that they thought of this advice themselves. Often, they consulted their advisory board of psychologists, medical doctors, lawyers, etc. And they are just putting it in print.

Similarly, a copywriter/marketer must develop a rapport with the readers. What they say needs to sound trustworthy. Now they may – like the adviser columnist – give information from researched experts. But they must get the reader to trust what they say.

“It makes sense,” should be the reader reply. “Perhaps this product or service can solve my problem.”

Both put their own unique spin on things

Even if Ann Landers or Dear Abby was spinning out their advisers words – guess what? It’s how they say it, that makes a difference. I feel that the same advise could apply to me.

Dear Abby Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame m...
Image via Wikipedia

And our copywriter would be saying words. But he’s delving into the demographic persona. They are working with basic emotional needs – like fear or greed (although human nature is multifaceted). Or they are spinning out different benefit modes. But they churn out a unique spin on things.

And we might connect better with one writer over another. Hence, they came up with something called controls and testing.

Let’s stop here and look at some comments I posted, on other blogs.

Reaction to “getting rich slowly” post

The other thing to ask is this. What happens if I were to have it all (i.e. invent the next pet rock, win the lottery, discover a historical art piece worth millions in a junk show, have a rich, unknown relative die, etc.). How would you live your life?

A while back, I watched some shows about lottery winners. Many can’t handle the money. Some went broke! Others brought goofy stuff. Hey! Even boxer Mike Tyson went broke before, because he overspent what he was taking in.

Then there’s folks like Warren Buffet and Sam Walton. Warren still lives in a house he brought decades ago, for a few thousand. Sam used to stand in line at his own store. He also drove a pick up truck and wore blue jeans. This is when they were billionaires.

We talk about attitude in getting the millions and steps to get there. What about keeping it, when we are there?

Reaction to email marketing post

I’m happy you didn’t focus upon the mechanics of email marketing. Instead, you focused upon the human element.

I like point 3 the best – focus on the objections. This advice is also sound in writing copy. The person may not want to buy your product or service. Anticipate the objections (i.e. via research) and answer them.

Testimonials are also good. I’ve even see a famous, direct response marketer and copywriter use video testimonies, to prompt prospects to sign up for his marketing membership site. He must be doing something right, as he has a good number of members – at $38 a month.

Maybe you covered this and I just missed it. But give something free (i.e. ebook, audio podcast, video, e-course, etc.), as an incentive to sign up.

Victor Flankl Blog Post Response

Cover of
Cover via Amazon

This post brings back memories for me. I’m glad you touched on the background of Victor Frankl. I remember back to my undergraduate days, when I was taking math and psychology courses. During that time, I read a lot of existential philosophy, psychology, theology and literary works.

“Man’s Search for Meaning” was one of my favorite books. It’s easy to read and should be ranked up there, with other great, self-help books. Books like “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill or “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.



5 thoughts on “Would an advice columnist make the best marketer/copywriter?

  1. While I agree that columnists can get slight advantage when writing, I don’t think it is the best background.
    Anyone who can understand the feelings of people(and customers) can become a successful marketer. Just as Brian Clark said in his recent post, all you need is to know the audience.

    1. I agree that any background can become a successful marketer. But if one wants to become a marketer, what background (and/ or, course of studies), would you suggest, can best prepare someone?

      1. Marketing involves lot of different activities and there are lot of fields from where people can benefit from being in any field. For example, columnists will benefit as writers, management students will benefit as they know how to manage different people and situations and accountants will have advantage in money management!
        My personal opinion is that most fields give you a slight advantage. At last, the one thing that matters is your connection with readers.

      2. Ishan:

        Sometimes I might write a piece, just to provoke thought. Chicago columnist Mike Royko did this all the time.

        In reality, we have to factor in both environment and Heredity , and it’s hard to know all the variables. I know. Someone I know is a world renown, Harvard generic modeling professor and researcher.

        David Ogilvy came to marketing and copywriting, after over a dozen dead-end or failed professions. Renown copywriter Brian Keith Voiles came to direct response copywriting, after being a magician for kids parties. He composed his own letters, to promote his business.

        I had to learn marketing when I ran an IT consulting business for 13 years. But many potential clients can’t understand it.

        Like I said – provoking thought is what I like to do.


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