February 03, 2016

Language and Talent

You hire copywriters.

Snapchat hires "Language Designers".

I know, I know, you believe this is an issue of semantics. You are doing the same thing they're doing, they just have a fancy title.

Imagine being a 29 year old writer. Are you likely to take the catalog job writing copy, or are you likely to become a Language Designer at Snapchat?

Game over. Snapchat wins the talent battle.

Now imagine that the 29 year old writer actually takes the copy writing job in Georgia ... has personal reasons for wanting to stay home and all that. Are you going to give this person the leeway to do great work? Or are you going to demand that the individual adhere to company standards? You already know the answer. You'll turn the copy writer into a drone ... and then, not surprisingly, the copy on your website reads like a text book. Who wants to read that?

If you want to acquire the best customers, you need to hire the best talent. In order to hire the best talent, we all need to modernize our internal structures. Nobody wants to write copy. Many people want to design language. That subtle distinction pays dividends.

I know, I know. You sell widgets. You are unique. You are different. You hired a Creative Director in 1997 because you watched the J. Peterman character on Seinfeld and thought somebody like that could make a difference, but the person you hired came in to work every day barefoot and wearing flannel pajama pants ... "it didn't work out, so he left the company to spend more time with family." You vowed to never make that mistake again.

It is very difficult to be great a customer acquisition while writing boring copy. Do something different.