I love “boring” industries. I really do.
And it’s not that I have a secret affinity for well-drilling or semiconductors. I don’t.
As a copywriter, I love the challenge of finding the story—even the poetry—in the mundane, the utilitarian, and the “strictly” professional.
I really love giving clients more than they ever expected, too. I’m not talking about volume. I’m talking about depth.
At every Envision discovery meeting, we come together as a team and ask our new client to talk to us, without any pressure of formality or presentation, about who they compete with, who makes up their target market, and how their brand is currently perceived.
Unsurprisingly, there’s often a big difference between their current perception of their brand and what they want it to be. Usually, they’ve been living with that disparity for a long time, but are at a loss for how to close the gap.
We also ask our clients to imagine where they want to be—visually and verbally—on a spectrum of traditional and conservative to modern and conversational. Both the most buttoned-up, polished clients and the most “rugged” say they want something more modern. Both have no idea how to articulate it through their imagery or their words.
And that’s where my job—and I’d like to think our job as an agency—is most gratifying.
Sure, helping people “sell” the things they worked so hard for means something. We’re impacting real people and their individual livelihoods. The success at the top is (hopefully) success for everyone. But the fulfillment and purpose I get mostly comes from giving them the words to support that success. I love the reveal after the discovery meeting where we show our clients just how much they were understood. It’s not just about interpreting what their business goals are (or should be), but “getting them” on a deeper, more intuitive, and human level.
Those in “boring” industries rarely experience the emotion and authenticity connected to the work that they do. Relatively speaking, compelling creative for beautiful food or sparkling cocktails comes a lot more easily. That’s not to say that we don’t endlessly deliberate over the perfect words, colors, fonts, and images (we do), but it’s a lot harder to make people care about semiconductors than shrimp tacos. As an individual working on my craft, there’s a special satisfaction that comes with the former.
A financial client recently told us after seeing the messaging we created for them, “It’s perfect. I feel like we’re a fraud.” Unsure of whether our messaging was a success or a failure, they clarified, “You captured what we’re trying to be. This gives us something to aspire to. We need that, and it’s making me realize we aren’t there yet.” One frozen food company cried real tears when they read the brand story we created that would appear on their packaging (that we also created). The story itself wasn’t groundbreaking, but it was theirs. More importantly, it communicated the sense of family and home cooking that they were desperate to convey.
When I’m developing content for a client, particularly for more traditional pieces like a brochure, I remind myself what purpose the piece is the supposed to serve. And the purpose is never to fill a page so there’s something tangible to hand out at a tradeshow.
I’ve written for a lot of incredible clients in “easy industries” and I’ve loved doing it. But one of my proudest moments as a copywriter was when I wrote content for the water pump company I mentioned earlier. I made my work hard, but I didn’t have to. My job, at minimum, was to distill their history and breadth of services into a digestible, compelling brochure. But I sat at home on my bed on a Saturday (don’t worry, it was by choice) to give this brand some life and to tell people (their prospects) what’s so truly lovely about well-drilling. Because there is something. There always is. And while services and competency are of course important, rarely do those things differ that much from one company to their competitor. There has to be something else.
So in the case of Centex Pump & Supply, I searched for a jumping off point. When Centex builds water pumps, they enable people to live beyond neighborhoods and beyond the suburbs. And what’s so great about that? To Texans, a lot of really amazing things. I thought about this idea of “living unrestricted.” Here’s what I came up with:
Please believe me when I say this: your boring industry doesn’t deserve boring content. Search furiously for the story and a way to connection. If you need help, we’re here.