I couldn’t find the original piece but, just after Steve Jobs died, there was a story I found about Steve Jobs and a copywriter. The copywriter wasn’t getting anywhere (as can happen) and so he asked Jobs to be more specific…to provide more direction.
Not exactly a bizarre request.
According to the story, Jobs replied: “I don’t know what I want—but when I see it, you’ll be the first to know.”
This makes the job of a copywriter, or any creative, or any professional, extremely difficult. It’s like telling a pilot to fly without a destination.
I’ve had people say “I don’t know what I want—but when I see it, you’ll be the first to know” to me. And I’ve had to part ways.
So…unless you have the unlimited copywriting budget plus you’re paying hourly plus don’t care how long something takes, providing direction is preferable.
If you’re ever stuck then I recommend you start with my direct response preflight checklist.
A simple creative brief that takes about 20 minutes to complete is also a huge help to the direct response copywriter. In fact, a clear creative brief is a thing of great beauty to me.
But maybe, if Steve Jobs was extremely patient, being the copywriter for Apple was the greatest gig on the planet.