Your Writer Is In Over His Head. Good.

This post was written by John White on Tue, 02 Nov 2010 11:03:56 +0000
Posted Under: managing writing project,marketing communications writer,rapport with writer,unique value proposition

Marketing communications writing involves risk, and your writer works on the edge of it. Your content is the big winner.

Waterbaby2 - writer in over his headWhen you assign a piece to your marketing communications writer – even a writer with whom you’ve worked before – are you certain she can do it?

No, I mean really certain?

Be honest with yourself and you’ll acknowledge that of course you’re not certain.

Good for you, marketing manager.

The Wisdom of Insecurity

Philosopher Alan Watts wrote a book called The Wisdom of Insecurity. I’ve read it three times and still can’t remember anything except the title, but that’s all I really need to remember. And, although people all around you scream for figures on ROI, there’s a wisdom about the unquantifiable parts of your job that make you insecure, one of which is assigning a challenging piece to a writer.

I had a lively chat last week with local colleague Joseph White, who told me about marketing pieces he’s done for a manufacturer of ruggedized equipment in nuclear containment facilities.

“How did you know you could write about it?” I asked.

“Well,” he replied, “I had a university professor from Texas who once told me, ‘Back home in Texas we say that if you’re not in over your head, you’re probably not having much fun.’ I’ve always remembered that. I think it’s at the heart of good writing.”

Your writer faces some in-over-her-head on most of the pieces you assign, believe it or not. And, when she’s having the fun that comes from it, your content is the winner.

It’s Risky Because It’s Natural

We all try to avoid risk, of course, forgetting that it’s nature’s way of reminding us that we’re alive. But assigning a tough piece to a writer is just an extension of the risk and peril you incurred when you got out of bed that morning.

And don’t forget that the writer, too, incurs risk. You both have plenty to lose and plenty to gain. I think it’s a strong argument for working closely together, which is another way of saying “managed risk.”

A new client underwent rigorous ISO-certification with the express goal of turning it into a part of their unique value proposition. “Most of our customers develop very specialized products,” one of the partners explained to me, “so they ask us a lot about the quality and accuracy of our consulting services. After 30 years of doing this, we know that their real concern is that they can’t afford risk. It’s against nature to try to eliminate all risk – nobody can do that – but the ISO-certification shows them that we’re serious about managing it.”

So let your writer get in over his head. Manage the risk by working closely with him and ride that risk to new content. You’ll be the better marketing manager for it.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a marketing communications writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s dirty work, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Marketing Communications Writer.”

photo credit: Paul Sapiano

Reader Comments

Nice points John. As a blogger I know I am guilty of spilling out what I know rather than to venture into the unfamiliar. There is always that fear of looking stupid or some a-hole calling you out but now makes sense that would be the “having fun” part.

#1 
Written By Johnny on November 8th, 2010 @ 12:43

…and that many Texans can’t all be wrong.

#2 
Written By John White on November 8th, 2010 @ 13:23