Watch your tone – Drayton Bird

If you haven’t come across Drayton Bird yet, read the rest of this post and then follow the link at the bottom, go to his website, sign up to his useful tips and buy his books. He provides such great insights and while his focus is Direct Marketing I apply his ideas to a lot more of my work .

I got this email from him recently and I thought it was worth sharing:

I had a meeting with the managing director of Mercedes Passenger Cars about 7 years ago when we started doing their direct marketing.

He was concerned about the tone of their copy – and in fact that is why we got the business.

We talked about this for a while, then I said,

“Have you ever actually sold cars?”

“Yes” he said.

Then I asked: “Did you talk to your customers the way you’ve been talking to me?”


“Well,” I replied. “That is the kind of tone your direct mail should have.”

The difference between good copy and so-so copy is largely about tone. Of course, few writers even understand the basics, but even if they do most write with a sort of half-witted enthusiasm, where everything is “fabulous” and “exciting”. So the copy lacks credibility. Readers say, “Oh, come on.”

The really good copy is conversational in tone, and is adapted to suit the context

So, Helpful Idea No 25: Read your copy out loud. Does it sound like someone talking? It should.

And does it sound like typical “sales” copy any one of your competitors could run. It shouldn’t.

The other thing to watch out for is that the language must be appropriate to the writer – and the recipient.

If you’re supposed to be the chairman, write like a wise and friendly adviser. If you’re writing to another chairman, write as an equal. If you’re supposed to be someone who handles complaints, adapt accordingly. And so on.

It’s deceptively simple – but not that easy to do. You just have to work at it.



PS Don’t forget – if you have a friend or colleague who you think would like to hear from me, please forward me their address. They’ll get a polite invitation – which they can decline – and I never share my email lists.

Click Here for all things Drayton


One thought on “Watch your tone – Drayton Bird

  1. Hi, after reading this remarkable piece of writing i am too
    cheerful to share my familiarity here with friends.

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