Every day we are bombarded by overly complex, jargon-rich messages from every media source: radio, TV, internet, and print. Most of these messages are not even understandable. I am sick of it. How about you?
Marketers (and, seemingly, everyone else) seem to have forgotten how to write and speak in plain English. Instead, they pepper the customer with business communications that drip with meaningless business jargon such as “leading edge value proposition” or “extensible brand legacy”. What does this stuff really mean?
And it is not just business communications. Recently, the USDA did a study that showed that 35 Million Americans were “food insecure”. It turns out that what they meant to say was that these people were hungry (i.e. they did not have enough food to eat!). I rest my case.
Combat this insult on the English language with simple, plain communication. This plain talk is especially important in brochures when your objective is to sell something or, at least, communicate. Simplify your message instead of making it more complex. Delete the data, the superfluous information, and buzzwords. Try saying what you mean, rather than trying to sound smart.
This is even truer in a business plan. Guy Kawasaki, author of “In The Art of the Start” says, “Keep it simple. If you can’t describe your business model in 10 words or less, you don’t have a business model. Avoid whatever business language is currently hip (strategic, mission-critical, world-class, synergistic, first-mover, scalable, enterprise-class, etc.). Business language does not make a business model.”
Fight back by asking sales people what they mean by these absurd phrases; beware that it might stop them dead in their tracks. Note the nervous laughter as they try to define “committed to excellence”. Edit your own words by reading it back to yourself aloud; if it sounds confusing to you, you can bet that it will be confusing to your customer.
Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
John Bradley Jackson
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