Shlomo is a Senior Copywriter at Ptex Group, but his humble title belies his crucial role in many of Ptex’s large-scale branding projects. Many of those projects, in fact, begin at Shlomo’s desk—where he conducts exhaustive research to understand the business, unearth what makes it unique, and discern where it falls in the larger marketplace.
Shlomo then works to create conceptual and strategic positioning that sets the client apart and communicates their “why”—the core reason for being that connects them to their customer. Of course, he also writes brand collateral, such as ads, brochures, and other brand assets.
Some people don’t actually know what exactly a copywriter’s job is. Many even think it has something to do with copyright law. How would you define the role of a copywriter?
Simply speaking, a copywriter is someone who uses words and language to link a brand’s products and services with its audience. This could be done in many different ways and through various media, but the ultimate goal of copywriting is always to impact the reader’s behavior in some way.
Now, copywriters are a dime a dozen these days. What makes your approach to copywriting different?
When it comes to brand building, I find that most copywriters focus way too much on the content of the brand, trying way too hard to concoct their own “Just Do It”, as opposed to first establishing the broader context of the brand. The key when creating a brand is to let the context drive the ensuing creative process, i.e. the content you’ll create. Likewise, when presenting a brand, you have to help your client see the context behind the content you’ve created for them. Then, and only then, can you present your clever tagline, ad, etc.
Why is context so important?
Context lays the groundwork; without it, the “content” (i.e. mission statement, tagline, brand narrative, ad copy, and so on and so forth) is meaningless. Content is the WHAT, and context is the WHY. To borrow a phrase from Simon Sinek, the most successful and powerful brands start with why. As a result, their marketing rings true for people and helps them form a deeper relationship with the brand.
How do you go about figuring out the why/context of a brand?
I start by throwing myself into the industry, learning the ins and outs of the space. I look at how others in the same industry are communicating, how they differentiate themselves within the industry. What are they focusing on? What mediums do they utilize? Then I try to hone in on what sets the client apart and how they can leverage that to carve out a little corner of the industry that’s uniquely theirs. Businesses know their industry and their product inside and out. But they don’t necessarily know what or how to communicate the things that set themselves apart. We can give them the messaging, verbiage, and style that helps them do that. But it starts with establishing the context.
What path led you to work in marketing, and copywriting specifically?
I have a degree in business, and took a few marketing courses in college. But the truth is that my writing journey started when I was very young. I started reading at age 3. As a child around the age of 5, my mother noticed that I had inherited my father’s flair for writing, and she would challenge me to write creatively. I was also an avid sports fan, and one of my favorite parts of the games was watching the commercials. I remember concocting my own companies and writing commercials for them. My obsession with ads lasted through high school. Once my history teacher broke us up into teams and had us create mock news programs, complete with commercial ads. Those were my domain, and my classmates loved them because they were funny.
Your sense of humor has certainly given you a reputation at Ptex as well. What do you see as the role of humor in marketing—and is it important?
Definitely. People are attracted to wit and humor because it eases tension. Ads can be intrusive, disruptive, and annoying. But if you can make people laugh, suddenly they’re more receptive to what you have to say.
What do you love about working at Ptex?
Ptex is a very relaxed environment, and people are open to hearing new ideas. The people are just exceptional human beings, across the board.
You’re also a musician, right? Do you see similarities between copywriting and the process of creating a brand?
I dabble in songwriting and play a couple instruments. I definitely see similarities. No matter what you’re creating, the creative process involves many iterations, occasional bursts of inspiration, a process of collaboration, and lots and lots of patience. Also, people only see the finished product, but not the ungodly number of hours and effort that go into it.
Principles by Ray Dalio; Start with Why by Simon Sinek; The End of Marketing as We Know It by Sergio Zynan (former CEO of coke).
Content may be king, but context is G-d.
You can reach Shlomo at sgrossman[at]ptexgroup.com, or on LinkedIn.