I Fess Up

Ok, ‘fess up time – I’m a closet fan of American Idol, especially the audition footage.

We’re still seeing contestants who (hilariously!) can’t carry a tune or a clue. These are people who are self-professed American Idol fans, and yet…yet…they don’t seem to have watched one single millisecond of any of the previous shows.

So many of these hopefuls apparently have no idea what the judges are looking for. What else can explain the plethora of twins (no couplet has ever made it to the final cut), the costumes (one guy showed up dressed as a jester – didn’t get to sing one note), the guy in Las Vegas who sounded possessed (really – he needed a priest and about a gallon of holy water), and the multitude of folks who have clearly never taken the opportunity to avail themselves of a tape recorder ($19.84 at WalMart).

It makes me long for the tuneful strains of William “She Bangs” Hung.

Audition Hint, people: American Idol is a pop show, and they’re looking for pop idols. So appearing as a gimmick isn’t going to help you make the cut. It may get you in front of the judges, but they ain’t gonna send a guy dressed in a duck suit on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood. It’s not about what you think is cool; it’s about what the judges want. They are your audience

Know your audience.

This precept applies equally to copywriting. Before you begin to write, ask “What does my audience want? What problem do they need to be solved? How do I give them what they want?”

There’s too much “meme” copy around. You know the kind I mean – blah, blah, blah, me, me, me, blah, blah, blah, me again. This is the copy that talks to the audience, but not with the audience. It’s copy that blathers on and on – about the company, or the product, or the consultant, or the service – but never gives the audience the information they want. It’s all gimmick and no talent.

What your audience wants is the answer to their questions and the solution to their problems. They don’t care how wonderful you are if you can’t get the job done. It’s about their needs, their hopes, and their desires.

And if you want to go to Hollywood, you’ll give your judges what they want.

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