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[title]The Babbitt Test of Good Copywriting[/title]

The experience of one young copywriter illustrates a common problem with copy. In response to a sales letter he had carefully prepared, the copy chief's comment was Sounds like Babbitt. This referred to Sinclair Lewis' character, George Babbitt, a person who was bombastic, narrow-minded, self-satisfied, and very dull. This taught the essence of direct mail copywriting: readers are more interested in how the company can benefit them than in what the company has to say about itself. If there are important things about the company that must be conveyed, this should be done in a way that translates into reader benefit. Several short examples are representative of writing that is too lofty or self-centered for its readership, the most common copywriting mistake. Copy should be personal, direct, unadorned, and written with the needs of the reader in mind.

Full text: Direct Marketing, Feb 1986
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