3 False Beliefs about Conversational Copywriting that Make Me Want to Scream

3 False Beliefs about Conversational Copywriting that Make Me Want to Scream

Reader Comments (25)

      • Nick I couldn’t agree more I’m just surprised it needed saying.

        If memory serves the first print ad (for sewing machines I think) was written after the copywriter (might have been Claude himself) interviewed all the company’s top salesmen.

        He copied their pitches, usual objections and their answers and lashed it all together in a very successful direct response print ad.

        If that isn’t conversational copy I don’t know what is.

        The roots of copywriting are taken from direct sales I.e conversations with prospects. We’ve just adapted – or should have done – and dialled back the hard sell rhetoric.

        Thanks again Nick, now, time for my medication…

        • Andrew, hi

          You’re absolutely right. Some of my favorite copywriters from the 70s and 80s – when I was starting out – were definitely conversational in their style.

          Somehow, since then, too many copywriters have decided their craft is about trips, tricks and manipulation.

          I find that weird, because the web is a totally conversational medium.

          Like you say… this shouldn’t need saying. But it does! : )


  1. Nick’s dedication to and passion for conversational copy is highly contagious. This great article proves it!
    He knows and understands the big, wide, wonderful world of the web. I mean, there’s so much going on! It’s different. It’s alive. Learn from it. Retreat from it. It’s used and abused. How in the world does one write for it? As a fledgling copywriter I about gave up. Then along came Nick – and Conversational Copywriting. It’s an exciting way to communicate – to share, inform and engage. It puts the human element back.
    Convincing some people that it’s the way to write for the web and connect with your audience is an uphill battle. If anyone can win it, Nick can.

    • Great post!

      Not to sound cynical, but, what ever happened to the simple formula of telling people the (honest) benefits of buying your product–with no hype.

      And letting the buyer make the decision.

      Just my two cents.

      • I wish! I wish I could sell good products and services simply by describing them… like you suggest.

        The trouble is, when you try that – and I have, many times – nobody buys. I wish they would, but they don’t.

        So… it seems we do need to sell a bit in order to get people to actually make a choice and reach for their credit cards.

        My thing with Conversational Copywriting is based on the belief that you can sell in a persuasive way without resorting to hype or manipulative sales tactics. You can pitch the sale, but still be a decent human being. : )


      • Marvin,

        As a former purchaser, I can resonate with this idea. I have a “soft” approach regarding selling my services as social media evangelist, due to my “allergic” reaction to pushy salespeople, back in the day! 😉

        I have been a member of BNI, and I am a certified networker, so my business process is to apply the “giver’s gain” principle, and get referrals along the way. The challenge is to avoid that it turns into giver’s “pain”… Plenty of people have picked my brain, during the years.

        Nick: I will look into to your site, in order to become in conversational copywriting! 😉

        All the Best,


        • Interesting… To your point, I believe conversational copywriting is more closely aligned with inbound marketing than outbound marketing. Or… it takes some of the tone and sensitivities of inbound marketing and applies that to outbound marketing.

          Clear as mud? : )

  2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots are here to stay. Humans are able to converse with a computer program. If chatbots are conversational, then why can’t copywriting also be conversational? Consumers in generations Y and Z will be looking for the conversational copywriting approach when it comes to buying products and services online.

    • LOL… chatbots are a whole different topic. But I take your point. It kind of amazes me that a chatbot can often do a better job of being conversational than a “real” person.

      And I think you’re right about the younger generations of buyers. They are native users of the web. They are on social media all the time. And yes, I think they will insist on a more conversational approach to marketing from the brands they admire.


    • Good chatbots are … wait for it … written by a good copywriter who understands exactly what Nick is saying here. 🙂

      A smart chatbot is just like a smart email autoresponder. It’s warm, well-written conversational copy that nurtures a relationship and provides value, without pretending that there’s some individual person typing all of those messages one by one.

      • To your last point… what I hate the most is human customer service people who drag and drop pre-written responses that almost answer your question, but not quite! I’d rather deal with a chatbot!

  3. Nick I love this (bookmarking right now). And I appreciate that you had a bit of a ‘meta’ challenge writing about writing. No worries, you got the message off without showing off.

  4. “Or, I’ll look at their content or product information pages and find 50-word, compound sentences packed into 20-line paragraphs.” UGH!!! These passages sound like swallowing nails would feel. And as if the voluminous writing wasn’t awful enough, it’s almost always all in PASSIVE tense! Passive tense makes my ears bleed. Who tells a friend, “The date has been chosen”? NO ONE. You tell your friend, “I chose the date.” So why do copywriters and script writers insist–INSIST– on the passive tense? My second pet peeve is “most importantly” instead of the correct “most important” but I’ll save that rant for a different post.

    • Good to see I’ve unleashed your inner-ranter. : ) Nothing like some bad business writing to boil the blood of anyone who actually loves the English language.

  5. I’ve always been a great advocate of this style of copywriting, why…..?
    Simple, it works!
    Trust will always trump ‘hard-sell’… every time.

    It amazes me how many people still use the old ‘one-way’ approach to selling?
    Take a quick look at some websites, and you’ll see for yourself.
    I guess anybody who wants to be ahead of the game needs to learn this craft, sooner than later.

    Great (and timely) post Nick.

    • Glad you liked the post! I ask myself the same question about why more people don’t take this approach.

      The web is by its very nature both social and conversational… and has been for over 20 years now!

      So why do so many companies and copywriter still use the old-school, broadcast approach to selling?

      Beats me. : )

  6. If I can read a sales page in the voice of Marge Simpson, then I feel like it’s conversational. If it comes across like Troy McClure, I won’t buy.

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