Do you move your lips when you read?

And why does it affect your profits?

You may consider that first question – about moving your lips – insulting. You probably think I’m referring to folks who aren’t too smart.

If you’re thin-skinned you may even think it’s a crude way of implying YOU’RE not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

But if you write copy – or content, as people have begun calling it – it really matters.

That’s because when we read – whether we are highly educated or totally uneducated – we “play” the words back to ourselves in our minds. And so do our readers.

What does this imply for your writing and your profits?

Well, here’s what a great advertising man – Fairfax Cone, co-founder of giant agency Foote, Cone & Belding – used to say when a writer showed him copy he didn’t care for:

“Would you say that to someone you know?”

And one of the great comic novelists of the 20th century, Evelyn Waugh, said:

“A good letter is like a conversation”

So let me ask you:

Is your writing conversational?

Or is it full of stuffy corporate jargon?

Formal and pretentious, striving to be literary?

Does it get people to act – or bore them to tears?

If your copy is like that – if it isn’t conversational – it won’t be read. And it won’t sell.

As Winston Churchill, whose persuasive powers moved an entire nation to beat Hitler said:

“Use simple words everyone knows, then everyone will understand.”

And as my old boss David Ogilvy noted:

“You cannot BORE people into buying.”

Well: are they buying?

Or are you boring them?

It costs no more to run copy that makes them buy – conversational copy – than guff that puts them to sleep.

How do you do it? Nick Usborne knows.

And who am I to talk?

You can see more about all of this at AskDrayton.com

Best,

Drayton

P.S. I originally wrote this blog for Nick Usborne at Conversational Copywriting.

About the Author

Drayton

In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.

He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.

Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.

He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.

2 Comments

  1. I don’t and was surprised when I first heard that people do. I don’t think I have ever read like that. Maybe if reading aloud.

  2. Can tell you that the two closest Satans Arches to me are falling down on the basics which is a sign the organisation my have run it’s course. Two separate restaurants have provided the wrong burgers on 2 occasions and 20 minutes to get served(Before you put your order in).
    Also was amazed about your comments about Hostgator because I quit them almost a year ago now. Got tired of no results with my website but they also constantly tried to sell you stuff and sign you up for the wrong package.

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