Words - When Less Is More
Geoffrey James wrote a series of posts on BNet, How To Rewrite an Elevator Pitch, that clearly show the difference between an elevator pitch that uses 25 cent words compared with one that uses 5 cent words.
I often find young marketers making this mistake. It is understandable. In school, showing their command of the English language probably earned them better grades. On the job, they are eager to prove their ability to contribute. Being somewhat unsure of themselves, they write in a way that they think shows their intelligence.
Of course, it is not always the young marketers that make this mistake.
Over the years, I’ve been in many debates with nonmarketers who want to edit my copy because their favored wording “sounds better.” One VP of Sales insisted that we use words that came directly out of the copy of one of his customer’s internal documents that explained the use of our software applications.
This internal document was not intended to be prospect-ready copy. Judging from the 50 cent words used, the authors were trying to show their intelligence and justify their choice of software solutions. To put it plainly, using their words as our words in our copy was the height of idiocy.
Always edit your copy with simplicity in mind. If you have a 5th grader handy, have him or her read it. How much do they understand?
You should also invest in a program like Stylewriter. There are different versions depending on whether you are using Australian, UK or American English.
You can also use a free program like Bullfighter to uncover the hidden simplicity in your own writing. I use at least one of these tools on everything I write. I don’t always take their recommendations, but I like how it makes me choose my words deliberately and with my reader in mind.