[quote style=”boxed”]The worst job I ever had was being a marketing director. I had to spend my entire time doing things I hated, like meetings, staff appraisals, budgets and forecasting. I learned to trust your gut and pursue your dreams – in my case, being a full-time copywriter.[/quote]
Andy Maslen is an independent copywriter specialising in corporate publicity, direct marketing and subscriptions. He writes and speaks regularly on copywriting and corporate communications.
He has worked with, among others, Aviva, The Prudential, Anglian Water, Nobel Biocare, The Economist Group, Emap, the DTI, BBC Worldwide, Hamleys, The London Stock Exchange, The British Standards Institution, the RSPB, Time Out, The New York Times Company and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
In 1996 he co-founded Sunfish, a copywriting and marketing agency, with Jo Kelly, another copywriter. Before that, he worked in marketing for 12 years within the business information industry.
Andy started his marketing career at Euromonitor, an international research publisher and marketing consultancy, in 1986, as a Marketing Assistant. When he left, Andy had been Marketing Director for six years. His responsibilities included e-marketing, direct marketing, PR, advertising and exhibitions, as well as managing marketing teams in London and Chicago.
Andy is a lifetime Fellow of the Institute of Direct Marketing and author of Write to Sell: the Ultimate Guide to Great Copywriting; 100 Great Copywriting Ideas: from Leading Companies Around the World; and The Copywriting Sourcebook: How to Write Better Copy, Faster – For Everything from Ads to Websites, all published by Marshall Cavendish.
More at www.sunfish.co.uk and www.andymaslen.com
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am writing an Annual Report for a Swiss client – Nobel Biocare. They are a world leader in dental implants and prosthetics. One of the things I love about this job is the sheer variety. Until I started working with these guys I had zero knowledge of implants, prosthetics and dental restorations. Now I could hold a pretty well informed conversation. I’m also working with the RSPB to help them redirect their writing culture from exposition to narrative – storytelling, in other words.
What does your typical day look like?
My day starts with either the school run – on foot – or taking my dog for a walk. I need that airlock between home and work because, as a home-based business it’s all too easy to sit down at my desk without refocusing from domestic to professional concerns. I start by writing whatever needs writing. My most creative time is from around 8.30 to 11.00 so I like to use it productively.
I’ll speak to clients on the phone, or maybe go to meet a prospective client. If I’m training, then the morning is spent travelling to the client then it’s an afternoon of discussion and teaching on better ways to write.
I’ll write again in the afternoon and do any marketing I need to – mainly these days writing articles, blog posts, and newsletters or making a quick video. I finish work at 5.30 or so to cook tea for my kids or sit down to eat with them.
What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I ever had was being a marketing director. I had to spend my entire time doing things I hated, like meetings, staff appraisals, budgets and forecasting. I learned to trust your gut and pursue your dreams – in my case, being a full-time copywriter.
3 trends that excite you?
1 A growing realisation that social media is not the same as social living. People need real people, not avatars.
2 Greater focus in business on the critical importance of getting language right.
3 Growing entrepreneurialism in the UK – people seem more willing to invest in themselves and their businesses.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I sit at my Mac and write!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Whatever you’re charging for your services, it’s probably not enough. Try increasing your fees by 50%. Practise asking for the new amount in the mirror until you can say it without faltering or looking down.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
Ogilvy on Advertising. Because David Ogilvy had so much wisdom to offer on selling in general and advertising in particular. And he never forgot that the primary purpose of advertising is to shift merchandise.
What do you read every day, and why?
Whatever I wrote yesterday. Because I can always do it better.
What does it take to be a top-flight freelance copywriter?
Unerring skill with words and a determination to be as businesslike as possible. It’s not about whether you can spell; it’s about whether you can sell.
How do you relax?
I spend time with my family; I walk with my dog, I garden; and I bake my own bread.
[highlight]This interview was brought to you by Duncan Murtagh, co-founder of Vetter, a simple system for managing a company’s ideas better. You can follow Duncan & Vetter on Twitter.[/highlight]