#Idea – Copywriting vs Relativism vs Pedantry

When you think of it, what a lot of copywriters and ‘unofficial’ grammar nazis do is basically enforce consensus.

They are the police for what is the currently accepted ‘correct’ way to write.


The laws of language are not a ‘real’, natural law. They’re a kind of consensus law, an agreement.

Unlike the law of gravity, which exists whether we believe in it or not, the laws of grammar are an abstraction that exist because we adhere to them.

Consider – for some reason, at some point, and for one reason or another, we decided that we would use commas, hyphens, capital letters (etc) in a certain way.

This was all written down somewhere (usually in dictionaries and accepted style guides). From then on, this was seen as the ‘correct’ way of communicating in the written format.

…and certain people, for one reason or another, were appointed as/appointed themselves the experts of this medium.


Language (as a part of culture) is a fluid and adaptive thing that evolves as people use it.

black and white bird photo
Image Credit: ThomasWolter

We have laws to enforce certain consistency and ‘best practice’ in how we write and speak…

But no one person or organisation can hope to control how that works.

Much of the slang that ’the kids’ are using will later be added to the dictionary – a sign of validation if ever there was one. Still, you could think of the OED as a late adopter in this case – these words were already alive, in use and evolving, long before the dictionary gave them its stamp of approval.

So, in a way, you could think of us writers, copywriters, editors (etc) as ‘shepherds’ of the words – guiding, but not entirely controlling, how words are used, and how they progress.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”LEWIS CARROLL (Charles L. Dodgson), Through the Looking-Glass, chapter 6, p. 205 (1934)

Photo by Georgie Pauwels

#Copywriting – Selling to ‘engineers’, ‘geeks’ and ‘educated buyers’ (etc.)

Note: I make the assumption that you know the difference between features and benefits – and why they are important when you have a sales message

With ‘engineers’ ‘geeks’ ‘educated buyers’ etc.
(…and contrary to ‘normal’ folks)
You don’t sell benefits
You sell features…
And so, the features kinda become the benefits

I.e. the engineer either knows what the item will do for him
(i.e he knows the benefits of the item)
The engineer is actually more interested in the features (i.e he’s more interested in processor clock speeds than the fact a processor with a fast clock speed helps him get work done better)

And so:
He either already knows the benefits of this processor
Or cares so greatly about the bells and whistles (features) that the benefits are almost irrelevant
(…I say again, the features ARE the benefits)

So tell him about the processor in gratuitous detail
Give him all of its features
And trust that he’ll know what to do with it….