“…sitting in David’s armchair, contemplating the many books that lined his shelves, a thought occurred to me. It was a very human thought; it surprised me. I checked myself for viruses.” – ELIXIR, The Unseen World
In Liz Moore’s science fiction novel, The Unseen World, an artificial intelligence program named ELIXIR adopts human language as its own. Like a child, it learns by listening—and then by practicing. Every day, ELIXIR speaks with computer scientists: probing psychology, processing emotions and implications, analyzing linguistic idiosyncrasies, and gaining intelligence through regular interactions with its target audience. By the story’s end, ELIXIR is highly analytical—and strikingly human.
The best copywriters are, too.
“Tell me about yourself.”
Cue a collective cringe from job-seekers and singles everywhere.
Though you may dread this question, a decent answer probably springs to mind (after any initial nerves have subsided). Social convention has taught us not to share our entire life story with strangers. Instead, we deliver an elevator pitch—culling details that are relevant to the audience and cutting the rest.
Shift from a cocktail bar to a corporate website, and things change. Suddenly, subject matter experts are reciting every last product spec—and prospects are squirming in their seats.
Brand storyteller David Beebe said it best: “Content marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.” Successful daters avoid the infamous info dump—and by thinking like computer scientists, talented copywriters do the same.
Let’s explore how.
It’s a data
Like a machine learning model, copywriters kick off new projects by processing multiple data points: reading brand books, conducting online research, studying origin stories, reviewing marketing materials, and creating competitive matrices.
But we don’t stop there.
To write for humans (per the MarketSmiths mission), we then hop on the phone with clients—forming personal connections that power the entire writing process. We move beyond the basics. We ask unexpected questions. We ad lib, actively learning how to speak another company’s language.
Then, we sit down and tell their story.
What a tangled web we weave
“The best user experience is the one the user doesn’t notice,” explains one web design magazine. “It appears smooth and simple on the surface, but hundreds of crucial design decisions have been made to guide, entertain, and prevent trouble.”
With a world of words at their disposal, companies are often tempted to overshare. Our job is to stop them. We may be copywriters by name, but we’re user experience designers by practice—proactively leading readers on a clear, jargon-free journey from Point A to Point Z.
Let’s look at an example.
Another one bytes the dust
“We leverage the human lexicon to crystallize complex concepts into clear value propositions, delivering game-changing content that reaps a positive effect on business profits.”
Bleh. Bleh. Triple bleh. Did you skim that sentence? Plug your nose? Speed-dial your local exterminator? All wise reactions—and all natural reactions. The human brain has a limited processing capacity, and oversharing with audiences can nudge them into a state of stupor called “cognitive overload.”
As copywriters, our goal is clearing confusion—not creating it. That means anticipating audience concerns, tackling complex topics in plain English, and tossing garbage language to the curb.
Let’s revise the above mess(age): “We write words that work.”
From madness to meaning, in a matter of seconds. Kill your darlings? Our pleasure.
Meet MarketSmiths: a content marketing agency committed to copywriting for humans. Like data scientists, we analyze the past to predict the future. Like user experience designers, we combat cognitive overload to inspire clarity. And like the fictional AI program ELIXIR, we’re programmed to seek understanding—see for yourself.