Friday, July 08, 2005

Bob Bly's Article on Why English Teachers Shouldn't Edit Ad Copy

Bob Bly -- the famous copywriter -- put up a nifty article on how writing for grammar and writing for sales is significantly different. Take a look.

I would go further with the English teacher analogy and suggest that many other academic approaches to persuasive writing fall short when it comes to selling goods and services (on eBay or anywhere else).

You should not, for example, head for the thesaurus every time you can't think of the right word. If you're looking for a word that you can't easily use off-the-cuff, then it might be a word that's unfamiliar to much of your audience. Or it could be misunderstood.

Man-on-the-street language is best for most situations (unless you're selling to academics). People want to get the message quickly. Most don't have the time or (strike:gumption) enthusiasm necessary for research. How's that for an example? -- I wrote gumption at first but replaced it with a more accessible term. Gumption may have even been the wrong term. I settled for enthusiasm because that's what I meant.

In short, save the big words for politics and literature discussions at cigar smokers and cognac gatherings. If you want to communicate with potential customers, use simple, straight-forward language.

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