Good copywriting often requires “bad” writing!

Some of the worst copywriters are “writers” who enter the commercial copywriting profession. Why? Because they’ve learned the formal rules of writing so well, they can’t break free of the grammar and style shackles. They’re forever obsessing about what is correct rather than what is effective.

On the other hand, some of the best copywriters are salesmen or businesspeople or other folk who would normally have no credentials to write much of anything. They aren’t fixated on rules as much as they are on results.

To illustrate what I mean, here are some writing rule breakers that are often part of effective copywriting.

Read the full article or or browse my Direct Marketing Article Archive. I’m adding articles all the time. Read them. Digg and Stumble them. Share them. These are all articles I’ve published over the years in Direct Marketing Magazine, DM News, Target Marketing, and other publications.

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7 Responses to “Good copywriting often requires “bad” writing!”

  1. Shama Hyder on November 27th, 2007 8:44 pm

    Fascinating Dean! I never looked at it this way…Thank you for the perspective.

  2. Ted Grigg on November 28th, 2007 10:42 am

    I really like your stuff Dean. Another great post.

    You used an expression here we both adopted. That term is “salesman.”

    In fact, for years I have told general agency leaders about the difference between general agency writers and direct response writers in this way: “A skilled direct marketing copywriter is a salesman in disguise.”

    In truth, all commercial writers should sell. But general agency copywriters are not evaluated based on sales. Their reputations are built on something else entirely.

    What you talk about here deals with the core of what a direct response writer is all about — generating sales.

  3. Dean Rieck on November 28th, 2007 11:08 am

    Albert Lasker said that advertising was “salesmanship in print.” Later he applied the same idea to other media.

  4. The Escape Design & Web Agency Blog : Blog Archive : Write Badder on December 4th, 2007 5:49 am

    [...] Found a new Blog today via Copyblogger – Direct Creative. [...]

  5. Connexion on December 5th, 2007 5:41 am

    Great ideas, although I worry that sometimes people can take this too literally and become sloppy with their writing which just makes them look stupid.

  6. Dean Rieck on December 5th, 2007 12:25 pm


    Any copywriting advice misapplied will make someone look stupid. But I don’t see anything in my post or the full article that could be considered “sloppy” writing, unless you apply strict, formal rules, which are inappropriate in most advertising. Could you give me an example?

  7. advertisers = bad writers? « This Writer’s Wallet on January 3rd, 2008 11:39 pm

    [...] January 2008 by gradgirl From Direct Creative Blog: “Some of the worst copywriters are ‘writers’ who enter the commercial [...]

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