He Said. She Said.

EAG, April 27, 2018

Paul Weber and Brenda Heffron have collaborated on award-winning copy for all media. Finally, they face off to debate content marketing to the sexes.

Content Marketing DebateShe Said:
Explain “mansplaining” to me. I dare you.

He Said:
I’m pretty sure that was a term created by a woman to define our unique way of speaking condescendingly to women. That said, we are hunters and gatherers. It is our DNA to work for and protect the women in our lives. So it’s simply in our DNA to patiently explain things in a way that a woman will find endearing. (Yeah, sounds like BS to me too.) (Yeah, insert her vomit noise here.)

Ever see guys trying to fix something in a group? We stand around and talk, then work, then observe, then talk, and then work again. We’ve been mansplaining to each other our whole lives. We just want to share.


He Said:
Do you ever consider LBGTQ in your writing?

She Said:
It depends. I wrote for the Matthew Shepard Foundation years ago, and in that case, yes. Perhaps I’m being obtuse, but people are people. Unless there is an overwhelming need or reason, writers should write for the human condition. That’s the common thread, isn’t it?

She Said:
Do you?

He Said:
I haven’t. Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t.


He Said:
Why are boats named after women?

She Said:
I’m no psychoanalyst, but I know a phallic symbol when I see one. Why do men feel like they have to name everything anyway? “I’m going to take Sherman out.” Why can’t he just say he’s going to use the snowblower?


He Said:
When I write content marketing for a gender-neutral audience, why do I always feel like I need to “feminize” my writing, but I never feel like I need to worry about my male audience? Is that me or just the way we’ve overly sensitized ourselves?

She Said:
Maybe because you’re a “he.” Maybe because you feel men will just “get” what you write, but women won’t understand you. Is it a fear of “mansplaining?” I think the truth of the matter is that good copywriting comes from writers who don’t type a word until they fully understand the product or service, the brand and the audience. Good copywriters put themselves in their audience’s shoes and write to compel people to action, some action, any action. And, sometimes the audience isn’t the obvious one. Who was it who figured out that you don’t sell men’s cologne to men?


She Said:
Oodles and scads of research document the differences in buying habits and motives between men and women. More times than not, researchers looking at my shopping habits would classify me a man. And I know some men who’d be classified as women. Given the focus on gender equality over say the past century, where is the line drawn between writing to meet preference and feeding into stereotypes?

He Said:
Stereotypes are demographics by a different name. There is much truth to stereotyping yet is seen as a pejorative term. Earlier you mentioned writing for the human condition. At the end of the day, that’s what we should really focus on. For example, woman buy more men’s underwear than do men. But the motivation to buy remains the same, style, comfort, cost and durability – in order depending on your audience segment. Gender matters little.  Although a guy will wear the same t-shirt for decades, if you let him.


He Said:
I think our differences in age create much more of a gap in our writing than does our gender. Just because I don’t recognize a reference doesn’t make me too old to understand. How come younger readers don’t have an obligation to understand a historical reference even if “history” is only a decade?

She Said:
I stand by my “Needs more cowbell” line in that bank ad. SNL is the zeitgeist of Saturday night television and has been for so long that its famous skits span generations. Sorry you missed that episode – it was HYSTERICAL. One is never too old to understand. One is never too young to understand. Anyone can understand a reference or concept if it’s presented at their level of (or ability to or interest in) understanding it. For example, I have a comic book in my library that explains Stephen Hawking’s theories. The publisher certainly met me at my level on that one. Talk to me about golf or chess and please wake me up when you’re finished.

Ah… youth. Do they not feel an obligation or have they simply not had the benefit of years of experience like we have?


He Said:
Women readers and copywriters don’t think a man can have a fair perspective on women’s issues. “A woman should copywrite that piece.” I never hear anyone say, “A man should copywrite it.”

She Said:
What? I can’t hear you.


He Said:
“Lean in.” I get it. But why is there an implication that men should “Lean out?”

She Said:
Ugh. Quit being so overly sensitized. See previous He Said. It’s not so much an implication that men should lean out, but rather make room for those leaning in. Kind of like football team huddles. Ever notice when one player is visibly and awkwardly not quite fitting into the huddle? The team just needs to move a few inches right and left and make room for one more head in the huddle. It’s inclusion, but not at the expense of excluding another. (See what I did there? I used a sports analogy to help you understand because men tend to relate to sports or at least have knowledge them.)

He Said:
Did you just use mansplaining to explain something to me?

She Said:
Back to that gap in writing due to age difference… Baby boomers, Gen X, and other generations come down pretty hard on Millennials. Yet, they’re a growing market audience with serious buying power as they resist pay gaps and benefit from the battles for equality that women who’ve come before them have won. If this new generation doesn’t “buy” traditional male/female roles, does this change how content marketing copywriters reach (and by reach I mean compel to action) their readers of either gender?

He Said:
I’m so tired of hearing about Millennials. I’m at the tail end of the baby boomers and we’re still spending more per capita than any later generation. We’re just spending it on old rock and roll concerts and retirement living.

Millennials, like every generation before them, will have changing priorities as they age. They are having babies and buying their first homes. That’s what they care about. Yes, they care about the environment and social causes but not any more than we did. They just have better platforms for talking about it and for getting involved. I’m writing to Millennials as adults, parents, homeowners, career seekers and future leaders. I’m not writing to them as Millennials.

She Said:
I know. I just asked that to ruffle your feathers.

 

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