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Copywriter? What’s that?

Posted by Ilise Benun on

It happened yet again today. I meet someone new. I tell her I’m a copywriter. She seems to understand. Then her husband appears – and she says, “Marv, meet Alan. He’s a lawyer.”

This is common for me. Copywriter = copyright, which somehow means lawyer. Maybe it’s a regional thing. I live in Boston – a town filled with lawyers. They didn’t call the show Boston Legal for nothing. It’s made me a little jealous of attorneys. And it’s put a big crimp in my quest for the perfect “elevator pitch.”

I’ve used several elevator pitches, but I’ve never been really happy with them. Here are some others I’ve tried on folks who don’t know what a copywriter is:

• I just say, “Well, I’m a writer” – and hope the person asks “Oh yeah? What do you write?” The pros? It does pique curiosity. The cons: It’s vague. Or I’ll get comments like, “Yeah. Sure you are.” (This could be another Boston thing. In this town, everyone’s working on The Next Great Novel.)

• I use the above, but go for a little more explanation. I say, “I’m a writer who handles projects that my clients don’t have the time or resources to handle themselves.” It explains a little more – but still isn’t very specific.

• Being the Mad Men freak that I am, I’ll sometimes ask an intrepid inquirer if they watch the show. If they do, I’ll say, “As a copywriter, I’m Peggy Olsen. Minus the flip.” This, of course, only works if I’m talking to a devotee. If you’re not, you’re probably glossing over this graph already.

So this is a challenge that I still need to work on. Got any suggestions? What approaches have worked best for you?

Alan Kravitz is a copywriter. He says this in complete confidence that Marketing Mix members are very smart people who know what a copywriter is. Check out his website,

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