When I was asked recently what my approach was to copywriting (and by association, to marketing) I paused for a moment and then these words emerged from my mouth…
“Well, it’s a bit like Joe 90”
I could sense a bit of a glazed look in the questioner’s eyes. Maybe they hadn’t heard of it or maybe they couldn’t make the connection between that and serious, professional work.
Naturally I went on to explain.
Joe 90 is a British children’s TV series from the 1960’s (I watched re-runs during my early childhood in the early seventies). It’s about a boy called Joe, the adopted son of computer expert Professor Ian McClaine (his friends call him “Mac”). They live together in an Elizabethan-style cottage in the English west country countryside.
From the outside they seem to be just and ordinary father and son, doing their own thing. How wrong appearances can be.
The cottage hides a secret – an underground laboratory home to the Professor’s latest and most powerful invention. A computer called BIG RAT (it stands for Brain Impulse Galvanoscope Record And Transfer).
The machine allows the knowledge and experience of one person to be transferred to another. As you’ve probably guessed by now, this is tested on Joe.
When Professor McClaine is able to demonstrate to his friend Sam Loover (who works for the spy organisation WIN, or World Intelliegence Network) that his own computer expertise can be passed on to Joe through BIG RAT…
Despite misgivings and arguments from the Professor, this experiment propels Joe into the service of WIN as their “Most Special Agent”. Aged 9.
The running theme through the series is that Joe can take on missions no other (adult) agent can. Not just because BIG RAT allows him to become an instant expert on any subject. Also because NOBODY suspects or believes a 9-year-old boy can be a spy.
All it takes is a simple yet highly effective process.
Step 1 – Find the “expert” and use a special “recording” device to record the brain patterns of the expert
Step 2 – Feed that recording back to BIG RAT
Step 3 – Joe sits in a chair inside a revolving circular “cage” (the “Rat Trap”) with electrodes attached to his head
Step 5 – Joe emerges from the machine with all the knowledge he needs for his assignment
Step 6 – As long as Joe wears special glasses he retains all that knowledge and expertise
Step 7 – Joe 90 uses his new-found expertise to take on a mission… and ALWAYS wins
That’s the gist of Joe 90.
So how does that have anything to do with my approach to copywriting and marketing.
The answer arrives in two parts.
Firstly, I’ve fed my brain with the knowledge and experience of some of the sharpest minds in copywriting and marketing.
There’s no BIG RAT computer in the cellar but there are other ways to transfer information.
Books, videos, DVD’s, events, courses and – of course – conversations.
That has educated my brain in a different way to how others may think.
It’s given me a “Secret Agent” way of delivering for clients.
To the outside world I look just like an ordinary guy.
But when I wear my special glasses – I know I’m on a mission to win.
Using my secret weapons.
A scientific approach to marketing.
A journalistic approach to understanding the story and finding the killer angle
A psychological approach to copywriting.
That mastery comes from following the masters.
Secondly, when finding out about someone’s business for their project it’s a bit like recording for BIG RAT.
Listen to what’s being said.
Get to know the deepest thoughts and knowledge of the client.
Understand how they and their business ticks.
Keep asking questions. Keep mining for information.
Build an in-depth picture of the personality, brand and purpose behind the person and the company.
Transfer all that data to my brain.
Then think. Then write.
That’s what I meant when I said “It’s a bit Joe 90”.
I know I look young for my age.
But don’t be fooled.
When I wear my special glasses I work like a special agent on a mission.