Creative North is currently sitting in a cell with only Steve McQueen and a bouncy ball for company. But fortunately, that room’s got an internet connection that we’ve used to Zoom all of our speakers to find out what they would have said.
Those conversations will all be up on YouTube as of Friday 19th June.
Including this one, with Kate Toon. A chat that covers copy, chatbots, chips and cats.
Lions get good press. Especially considering they’re generally big lazy things with awful haircuts that lie around getting nothing done. They’re on crests, flags, Royal coats of arms.
But you don’t hear about the lionesses. The ones out there, getting stuck in, working together.
That’s certainly what Kate does. She’s not just another freelance copywriter.
She works with Belinda Weaver on the brilliant Hot Copy Podcast. She works with speakers from all over the world to put on Copycon in Australia.
And she works with loads and loads of other freelancers through her SEO and copywriting courses to help them get out there, get stuck in, and work together:
“Way back when, when I started out, I’d been working in an agency. Then I became a freelance copywriter and I didn’t have a clue what to do, how to get clients, how to market myself, how to do money things…”
So I created a community on Google Plus, or whatever it was called then, and invited 30 people off Twitter to join my community.
Only about 20 said yes, the rest told me to —- off, but that became really collaborative and that’s what kind of evolved into the Clever Copywriting community.
We’ve got about 300 or so members who should all really by rights hate each other because they’re all fighting over the same chip like seagulls that they share that chip, they all they all give it a lick and they pass that chip around.
That sounds very unpleasant.
Don’t Fear The Machine
It’s this collaborative idea that’s at the heart of what Kate does. Not just freelancers collaborating together, but copywriters collaborating with other specialists. Other experts.
And even other intelligences.
“I think often writers in particular see technology as the enemy. They see algorithms as the enemy, they see Google as the enemy and they feel that it’s stripping them of their creative outlet, their creative freedom.“
In our chat Kate explains the need for creatives and marketers to work with the machines. With the AI.
“Not just in terms of Google, but in terms of voice search and chat bots. You know it’s coming. We have to accept it, we have to let the robots in. We can’t be frightened of them. They’re not all Terminators!“
It all comes down to fear. Just like we’re scared of the lions coming to eat us, we’re scared of the robots. Not because they’re coming to murder us to create a nightmare future, but because they might replace us.
“I think people are frightened, or scared not only that we’re not going to be able to keep up with technology but we’re also scared that technology is going to replace the writer, because there are so many tools out there that can produce fairly good copy.
You’ll soon see fairly good blog posts just with the click of a button. And if that happens, well, what’s the point of us anymore? We’re not needed.“
That’s the real fear here. Fear of being made redundant by cheaper machines. Robotic brains that don’t need sleep, or expensive notebooks, or holidays or cups of tea.
Fortunately for us all, that’s not the case. In fact, AI is going to provide us with opportunity.
Opportunity, Not Obsolescence
Robots aren’t creative. They need someone else to have ideas. And that’s where writers come in.
“I think chatbots are another thing that are exciting.
There will be a lot of opportunities for writers to try and create chatbot scripts that solve customer pain points. But don’t try and pretend that they’re not chatbots!
It’s fine to know that you’re interacting with a chatbot. The goal is not to mislead people into thinking they’re talking to someone with a headset on in a call centre in Ipswich. The goal is to understand that we are talking to something that is helping us solve a problem.“
And how will the chatbot solve the customer’s problem? By relying on a script created by a writer who can understand and think around that problem.
Sooner or later, we have to collaborate with the robots. To compromise. And in the end, that collaboration is going to lead to much better work from writers and for clients.
“There’s compromise in collaboration. A lot of us copywriters, we’ve traditionally worked with designers and developers, and we’ve had to compromise. They only want to have five words on the ad, we want to have 65, the developers only left this much space for our copy and we’re like, ‘Oh great, thanks for leaving me that much when I’ve got this much to say.’ And now it’s the same with technology. It has its limitations, but I actually do think often technology forces us to make better writing decisions.”
But the only way to learn how to collaborate with anyone, whether it’s a designer or a new kind of technology is to experience it for yourselves. Not least because, as Kate explains, claiming authority about something you’ve not experienced really doesn’t help win over a new client.
“So many writers say, ‘I can write your website, but I don’t do SEO,’ or ‘oh I can do your social media but I’m not on any of the social media platforms,’ or ‘yes I could do a chatbot script, but I hate chatbots and I don’t like interacting with them.'”
Get in the Pit
At the end of the day, you’ve just got to follow Kate’s lead and get out there and do things. Because like she said;
“You have to be in the arena. You have to be in the pit fighting with the lions to understand how the lions work.”
To hear all of Kate’s wisdom, subscribe to the Hampson Nattan Williams YouTube channel.
Then grab your shield and spear, and get down into the pit. There’s lions to tame.