People immediately associate copywriters with grammar nazis, but that isn’t always the case.
Sure, the use of correct spelling and grammar are both important when it comes to the written language, however, do those rules strictly apply when writing marketing copy?
Some say yes and others say no; but there actually is a more definite answer due to the core rule of copywriting: it’s all about your audience.
Let’s discuss this further.
There are two approaches to grammar
Prescriptive grammar is where a person looks to a formal rule book and is uncompromising when it comes to how English is used.
Descriptive grammar is when language is written more as it is used in everyday conversations, allowing for a lot more flexibility with structure and word choice.
We all learn prescriptive grammar in school, which is a good thing. It lays solid foundations and boundaries that we must respect when studying a language. However, you soon realise that this rigidity can really dampen creativity. The sign of an advanced English writer is the ability to play with these foundations and boundaries to produce something refreshing and engaging.
People who hold tightly to prescriptive grammar haven’t fully progressed on from the need to cling to school rules. While that can be well suited to certain styles or purposes, in reality, language is far more fluid and people prefer this style when reading, listening or watching content.
So, which approach is right?
Technically, there is no right or wrong - just like there is no one official rule book for English too.
For me, I’m an advocate of descriptive grammar when it comes to copywriting.
The reason is simple – copywriting is written solely to and for your audience. This means that if you want to attract their attention and engage their interest, then you have to write in a relatable way that is going to connect with them.
If you’re a stickler for the rules, your copywriting may sound like they’re reading an academic paper, which means that you’re probably going to lose them.
This is the exact opposite of our objective as copywriters!
Here's an example
My two hashes above probably should have been a semi-colon and a colon, however I prefer hashes as it looks cleaner and separates the text in a better way. Did you even notice? Were you upset that I didn’t use the technically correct form of punctuation? Probably not!
This is exactly my point.
The descriptive grammar approach allows you to be more casual. More malleable. (This incomplete sentence would have killed a prescriptivist! But you, as my reader, understood perfectly – right?).
All for the benefit of your audience.
This makes it perfect for copywriting because you’re able to use sentences, statements and even spelling in a freer way to make an impact.
How does copywriting use descriptive grammar?
All of the time! And most of them are very effective because they’re sharp and entertaining.
You see it in banner ads, websites, Google Adwords and especially social media every day, and probably take it for granted.
Quick marketing sentences like Sales leads sorted and colloquial phrases on Instagram, such as Learning level = boss, allow you to use copy to convey exactly what you mean in a clever way.
Does that mean I can throw grammar rules out?
No, it certainly doesn’t.
As your audience is the underlying priority, messing with the language to the point where it becomes unreadable is counter-productive to your goals and not what I mean by using descriptive grammar.
What’s the point in writing copy that your ideal customer can’t understand?
Just like they are the excuse to push the grammar rules, they are equally the excuse to not destroy the rules completely either. Sounds like a fine line? Welcome to the skills of a quality copywriter!
When it comes to copywriting, I say always write to your audience.
If they want colloquial language that will get them to engage and respond, then use it. If you are talking to clients who are more formal, then apply more of the rigid rules.
Copywriting is all about them, so feel free to be flexible, creative and clever in ways that will get a response, rather than cling to rules ‘just because’. You’ll end up hindering your own message if you stick to rules for no other reason other than they are rules.
Strong copywriting is modern, refreshing, adaptable and bold.
This is why descriptive grammar generally works best when it comes to copywriting.
How are you going to bold and clever in your next communication piece?
How Can Melotti Media Copywriting Help You?
To engage your customer and achieve ongoing business success today, you need quality copywriting and consistent content. However, we understand that this is easier said than done.
You’re time poor and spread thin, and writing isn’t your expertise. So, focus on what really matters, while we take care of all of your copywriting and content marketing needs!
For more information or to speak to a quality copywriter to get the results your business deserves, contact me now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can sharpen your words to achieve your goals, today!
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