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Posts Tagged ‘graphic arts’

ARCANE: known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric…

Copywriting for business inherently includes a certain amount of arcana. But perhaps no topic is more arcane than cardboard tubes. Believe it or not, cardboard tubes have hundreds of uses beyond moaning into them, “Luuuke… I am your Faaaather!”  You will find a cardboard tube at the core of your toilet paper, as well as your thousand-pound roll of printer’s stock. And I recently received a poster of Zac Effron in a cardboard tube from Tiger Beat. By mistake, of course.

So, how do you glamorize a product that is basically a commodity? It’s not easy, but it helps to have a client who freely admits that it’s a commodity. This gentleman stated right up front that his product was hardly different from his competitor’s. So I dug a little, and fashioned a story about consultative selling, wide selection and quick delivery.

Anyway, this masterful masterpiece of mastery just went live, and I invite you to give it a cursory glance. Oh and, honey! Could you toss me a roll of toilet paper? Here be the link: http://papertubesnow.com/

(BTW, I originally thought to title this blog – not just this post, but the entire blog –  “Master of the Arcane,” a title I thought incredibly apt. Stupid, yes, but apt.)

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In interviews, and in general, I often claim that one of my strengths as a MarComm writer is “my ability to dive into an unfamiliar situation and quickly learn enough to market some product or service that I may not even heard of a week before.”
And the person I am speaking to says, “Fascinating!”
And I’m like, “Thanks!”
And he says, “No, I think it’s fascinating that someone who writes for a living would open his blog with a 46-word sentence.”

Anyhooo…the Quick Study is a talent, and in the Agency Environment (another of my big buzzwords) it’s critical to your success and longevity. This is particularly true in these times when the $20K projects are all dormant, and you have to substitute four $5K gigs in their place.

My point (that only took 3 paragraphs to reach) is that there is a specific place where I learned these things—a tenacious little Dayton OH agency called Concept Company. Concept has been around many a moon and does a bit of everything…print ads, public relations, web development…for a variety of clients. However I think one of their biggest strengths is in locking up a really arcane niche: Graphic Arts, or GA for all you abbreviators out there.

GA is pretty much anything involved in printing and packaging:

  • Commodities like ink and paper
  • Services like printing, labeling and converting
  • Capital items like presses, splicers, and feed/rewind devices

Glamorous, no? Um, no.  But to me, that’s the genius of it.  My samples are full of Concept/GA projects, as well as other Concept projects in manufacturing, defense contracting, real estate, sporting goods, and so on. So take a look at some samples. And visit Concept Company’s site today! (a call to action, even…I really did learn something there!)

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Out of a sense of adventure…and economic necessity…you never say no to a copywriting project. This can lead you off in some interesting new directions. And you never know when a weird little one-off project will come back to be the basis of “my deep understanding of the industrial powder-coating process” on some future bid.

First Time for Everything

For every subject matter a copywriter approaches, there’s a first gig, first assignment, first Google search for every topic. I’ve said it repeatedly; it’s one of my favorite parts of the business. Convincing the client you can actually do the work is another story.

Copywriting with Curb Appeal

As they say, in real estate you’re not selling bricks and lumber…you’re selling the dream. Others would say that pumping all the romance (along with the notion that credit is a God-given right) helped bring us to the mess we are in today.  At any rate, as the stakes get ever higher, the need for effective copywriting in the real estate world increases.

Copywriting for Graphic Arts

If you’re trying to sell substrates, labeling, packaging, ink, splicing or million dollar industrial printing presses (and who isn’t these days?) then listen up. If you want your product to burst with value, and be something more than a boring commodity…get some copywriting help!

Health Care Communications

Healthcare is my bread and butter. It is also my plate, my knife and my laminate countertop.  For a time it was also my toaster, but we’re in a recession, you know? It’s an industry filled with cutthroat competition, regulations and lawsuits out the butt (I know, cut the legal-ese!)  Anyway, it’s not for everybody but, if you had to pick a copywriting specialty that will be around until the last Boomer has dropped dead, this is the one!

Copywriting for the Religious Client

It can be really intimidating to walk into a creative meeting and feel the passion and commitment of the religious client. Let’s face it, nobody ever laid down their life for the next generation of absorbent paper towels. So you have to calm down and see that, like any other “business,” there’s a message, a medium, a market and an audience. Just make sure you don’t “kill” your competition, or steal from him or covet his wife. They have rules about that.

Guns & Ammo

Speaking of Second Amendment rights they will have to pry from your cold, dead fingers…suppose you’re a snot-nosed college puke who grew up in the city and never held a gun in your life. Suddenly you get the opportunity to write a series of brochures, editorials, press releases, print ads, catalogs, web sites and trade show materials…are you ready to pull the trigger?

A Mile Wide, An Inch Deep

And that is what it boils down to. If you want to work, if you want to add value, you have to posess a diverse knowledge base. And, for the most part, wider is better than deeper. If you disagree…start your own blog!

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Heads up, word-jockeys…it’s the weekly wrap!

For too many websites, their design is stunning. Their programming is seamless. And the writing…is an afterthought. If anyone has put any effort into the copy, it is in the area of Optimization. But shouldn’t the copy speak to the members of the audience who aren’t search engines? Read the familiar writer’s lament, Copywriting for the Web.

Niche Week concluded with a look at one of my odder concentrations…the world of printing and packaging known as Graphic Arts. It’s a good example of maturing in the writing game…the ability to motivate yourself to do quality work on a topic that doesn’t particularly rock your world.  Breathe deep the inky smell of Copywriting for Graphic Arts… but don’t smudge it!

Speaking of copywriting niches, here’s the one I don’t joke about…health care. This is how my bread gets buttered. It’s light, creamy, and full of GOOD cholesterol. Pass me the jelly, and check out HealthCare Communications.

I’ve said it before: copywriting is a business where the only thanks you can expect is to be paid…and you have to wait six weeks for that. Once in a while, however, a client will surprise you. And, it figures, he used to be a copywriter! So, check out this bit of self-indulgent self-indulgence, Unexpected Praise.

Clients, when you telephone your copywriter at 10am, you should know he is still in his pajamas. If that makes you think less of him, then forget that I said that. Consider the modern convenience of the long-distance professional relationship in Writers Without Borders.

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Speaking of developing a copywriting niche…here’s one I never knew existed until I found myself knee-deep in it: graphic arts, or GA to the tragically hip. And since I have to explain that every time I say it, here’s your quickie-wiki: Graphic arts is a term applied historically to the art of printmaking and drawing. In contemporary usage it refers to the applied trade-skills of a graphic designer or print technician.

I landed at an agency that had carved out this nice little niche in GA. They had covered every facet in the business, and managed to do it without a trace of conflict of interest. They had clients in press manufacturing, automatic unwind/rewind (the big spool devices that feed the press and collect the results,) splicing (so that you don’t have to stop between spools,) substrate (the stuff you print on, like paper, cardboard or film,) labeling, converting (when the thing you are printing is packaging,) and… and…oh yeah, INK.

It was nuts, and the learning curve was steep. So steep that, four years later, I am still trying to get through that giant stack of back issues of “Paper Film & Foil.” And it was often tough being the newbie in the room when my boss had lived, eaten and slept this stuff for 20 years. But it was a great learning experience, and the work ran the full gamut, including:

  • Press Releases
  • Brochures
  • Print Ads
  • Speeches
  • Trade Articles
  • Websites, and
  • Video Scripts

All in all, Graphic Arts is certainly one of the more arcane areas of my experience, one that gives new meaning to the phrase “ink-stained wretch.” But hey, it’s one more line on the resume…slightly less glamorous (but easier to explain) than cat-killer.

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