Victor Silvis – Dutch copywriter in Amsterdam
I started as a junior copywriter at JWT and worked there for ten years and during which time I gained experience with big brands like Heineken, Shell and BMW. After that, I was creative director at Publicis for five years, with clients such as Nestlé, Renault and the tax authorities. I also worked on campaigns for Ara, Zwitserleven, KPMG and Eurofiber. I became a freelancer in 2011 working for Copywriter Collective.
I now have broad experience in my field and have been active in almost all sectors, both with b-to-b and b-to-c communication. I enjoy working on internal branding, employer branding and events. I develop creative concepts for communication campaigns, write all kinds of copy and provide transcreation for international campaigns.
I believe that three things are important in the development of texts and campaigns. Firstly impact. If you don’t take notice of fine details, the rest is insignificant. Secondly, consistency. Building a reputation for your organization, company or brand produces recognizable communication. And thirdly, search for synergy in digital and traditional communication channels. The best results are achieved with this.
In the last decade, I have seen great democratization with regard to the development of means of communication. An iPhone video is posted and everyone writes blogs. However, there seems to be a reversal, whereby organizations and companies realize that professional communication is really a profession. Like the structural building of a brand.
That’s why I thought it would be good to share some thoughts about the basic question: When is it advisable to hire a copywriter?
We can all write.
You want to avoid unnecessary expenses. So if you work for a brand and you have to write a website, blog or advertisement, should you just do that yourself?
Indeed, we all learned how to write at school, but the talented writers picked it up easily. They finished the school paper, kept diaries and got irritatingly high marks for their drafting. Not that you became popular with that – you could be better at sports, theatre or dancing. But that’s a bit of the story of your life when you’re a writer.
Some of those talented writers from the past have made their profession from this, they are the copywriters of today. But with all your knowledge of your brand, product or service, what can they do that you can’t?
If writing, communication, content and advertising is your work and passion, you want to know all about it. So copywriters have read everything about icons like David Ogilvy (“The consumer is not a moron, she’s your wife”), Bill Bernbach (“It’s not just what you say of course Don Draper (‘Make it simple, but significant’).
They also know about modern marketing thinkers like Steven Van Belleghem (“The goal is to have a customer service that is not just the best, but legendary”), Seth Godin.
(“Marketing is no longer about what you tell”) and Guy Kawasaki (“If you make meaning, you’ll make money”).
If you search a copywriter’s bookcase you will find literature on psychology (Robert Cialdini), strategy (Byron Sharp) and economics (The doughnut economy of Kate Raworth).
Writers are readers. But maybe that also applies to you.
It takes 10,000 flight hours to kick it from benevolent amateur to professional. This also applies to copywriters. Because they do it day in and day out, they are getting better at it. You do not have that time as a product manager, marketing director or final boss. After all, there are 10,000 other things on your plate. Yet you are indispensable in the writing process. So keep reading.
Copywriters work on average about five assignments at a time. Everything together. Cars, beer, insurance, travel, infrastructure. Isn’t that confusing? No, that keeps their mind smooth. That way they keep that important fresh look at your brand that you are missing. By working for the same company or product for a long time, you inevitably develop tunnel vision. This is why you should keep reading.
It is an advantage that a copywriter works for many brands in many sectors. The words and tactics that work in one sector can be quickly translated into your sector. A copywriter with say ten, twenty years of experience has a box of knowledge about what works and what does not. Handy!
Out of the box
Of course, a copywriter thinks outside of the box. As a result, they can create a sparkling piece of communication even from the driest briefing. They know how to surprise you time and time again with new and interesting content, even if product or service never changes.