Proven advertising ideas to get more people to buy from you, visit you or know about you. Not to mention plenty of tips on creating successful copy, layout and images. All filtered through the thick haze of classic rock lore.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How to prove you're not an English-mangling monster to those who think copywriting is something lawyers do

What our third grade teachers taught us about writing isn't necessarily true today. Especially in copywriting and other types of persuasive writing. Which is why it's often perfectly acceptable to write in fragments. It's also okay, if not preferable, to end sentences with prepositions. Or to start sentences with "and" or "or." And, of course, contractions are our friends.

I know you know all this. But there will be times when you need to show your crisp copywriting to your boss or client (either external or internal), and you may get the usual resistance: "You can't start a sentence with 'and.' And you can't end a sentence with a preposition. And don't use contractions; it doesn't sound professional."

So how do you prove they're wrong and you're not some English-mangling monster? Just use this simple tactic that has worked for me every time: come armed with reprints of ads or brochures from the company's competitors that are chock full of fragments, contractions and sentences that end with prepositions and start with "and."

You may also want to remind your boss or client that truly persuasive writing must be personal. It must sound like how friends talk to each other in the living room or at a restaurant -- concisely, passionately and with little regard for many of the grammatical rules we learned in third grade.


Ross Gordon said...

This is a great one. I had a client who went berzerk when i showed him a rough draft of copy and many sentences started with "ands" and "Buts". Needless to say he found someone else to write his copy. The result? Let's just say that unless you have a law degree, you won't find any enjoyment reading the copy on his website.

Charlie said...

Great blog, Mr. Lyle... or should I say Grape Blog?