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Where’s Waldo?

“Details, details, details.” When most people say this, they’re complaining. Not me. I live for details. And I’m one of those lucky people whose occupation is also their passion. In my work at The Starr Conspiracy, I get paid to play “Where’s Waldo” all day long, to be Quality Control, to spot tiny problems buried in marketing materials long before they can become not-so-tiny problems. Dropped words, duplicated words, misused words. Newspapers (remember those?) call people like me copy editors.

Now here is where I buh-low your mind. Client companies don’t usually realize this, but their marketing agencies are probably winging it when it comes to Quality Control. Don’t believe me? Ask your marketing firm for the credentials of its in-house copy editor. You’re gonna see some epic spinning. Know why? BECAUSE THERE ISN’T ANY IN-HOUSE COPY EDITOR. And why is that? Because people have a hard time wrapping their heads around the ROI that a details-junky like me brings to the table.

If you’ve never thought about any of this before, you’d better start now. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s pretty competitive out there. What does copy editing have to do with getting business and keeping it? Let me spell it out for you. (Because believe me, I can spell. And, yeah, it’s OK to start sentences with “because” and “and.”)

How much is it worth to you to look smart? Look at it this way: Would you show up at a client’s office, giving everybody a big smile and a warm handshake, and with a dark, slimy piece of spinach smeared over one of your front teeth? Well, that’s about what you look like to a client who’s just received something under your logo with a big, fat typo in it. Hmm. I wonder how much money that’s going to cost you.

Everybody needs an editor. Some writers think their poop doesn’t stink — they’re such great wordsmiths and their facts are so ironclad that no one could possibly improve on their writing. No copy editors needed at their marketing firm! Wait, what’s that? You say the agency sent out a massive email blast about an upcoming conference and the dates were wrong? Ulp. Maybe it’s time to look up some of those old newspaper pals in quest of a solid copy editor hire.

The Cleaner, at your service. Who doesn’t want a guy like Mr. Wolfe, the Harvey Keitel character in Pulp Fiction, on their side? Your marketing firm’s copy editor is sort of like your very own “Wolf,” bringing a fresh set of critical eyes to your material, scrubbing it to make you look as awesome as you possibly can. And he’s not even on your payroll!

Joseph Joubert, a French essayist said, “Words, like eyeglasses, blur everything that they do not make more clear.” If you’re reading this and still don’t see why it’s important to hire a marketing agency with a solid copy editor on staff, let me be very clear: You’re in the worst place of all. You’re in that scary place where you don’t know what you don’t know. And in that particular landscape, the fog’s simply too thick for anyone to find Waldo.