Salesmanship Vs. English Grammar

In the space of a couple of hours, I read a couple of articles that contradict each other on the subject of language.

First (in order of when I read ’em) was a capsule review of the book Branded Nation by James B. Twitchell. “Twitchell,” wrote reviewer Steve Cone,

“is unusual among college professors in that he teaches both English and advertising, two disciplines that make perfect sense together.”

Offering a different point of view is direct-response copywriter Bob Bly. In his blog, Bly tackles the occasional conflict between good grammar and effective selling. A subscriber to his newsletter had complained that the expression “free gift” was redundant. “Is there any other kind?” wrote the reader.

Replied Bly:

…your argument is that ‘free gift’ is redundant — like ‘armed gunmen.’ But, tests prove that in direct marketing, omitting the word ‘free’ and just saying ‘gift’ actually depresses response. I teach in business writing classes to avoid redundancy … but I am not sure that’s always good advice. The reason for redundancy is that some people need to read a thing several times before it sinks in.

Like what you’re reading? Want to read more? Subscribe here!


Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you the first two chapters of my new book, Breakthrough Prospecting, as a thank-you.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Your Chance to Be Heard -- Comment Here!