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Monday, October 09, 2006

Join the Fight for Plain English in B2B MarCom Materials

Big thanks to Dianna Huff for pointing out these two items of interest:

I certainly agree with Dianna's characterization of Scott's article as a rant against jargon. Another thing I picked up between the lines was the sense something is missing from American discourse be it commercial speech or otherwise - warmth, humanity, unpretentiousness, maybe even class (as in a "class act").

This same sentiment motivates me to re-write B2B marketing literature in plain English. As such, the article whetted my appetite for more and I found Advertising, R.I.P. at Scott G's site.

While Scott definitely expanded my horizons about the new, more intrusive channels sought by advertisers (brace yourself), he also warns of the dangers of advertising-speak found in nearly every industry these days.

It's as if the sellers were vampires and they're having an impossible time hiding their blood-lust. For a taste of this blood and a vision of just how far things can go someday, here's a quote from the article:

We advertisers are, at best, invited guests into people's homes or the public space. At worst, we are party crashers or unwanted intruders. And we're overloading everything with annoying messages.

Imagine if we behaved in this manner in our daily lives:

"Hi, Shirley! My good morning message is brought to you by Henderson's Hardware, for all your home improvement needs."

"Thanks, Jim! My Have-a-Nice-Day reply is courtesy Magnum Magnificence, your best choice for a complete line of lighting fixtures. Come to Magnum Magnificence and see the light."

Before it's too late, I hope we all see the light.

Amen. Hopefully, B2B marketers will see the light and embrace plain English in their marketing materials not only because it's "the right thing to do," but out of sheer, enlightened self-interest.

As for John Simmons' book, We, Me, Them & It: How to Write Powerfully for Business, I've ordered it and eagerly await delivery. I'll be writing a review of the book in this space - stay tuned.

Eric Rosen
B2B Copywriter
Clear Crisp Communications


At 1:26 PM, Blogger transformation said...

Your blog is the best! Thank you.

A duly embaressed, David from Seattle

(proxlic polyhistor, polymathic promethian case!, omega to your alpha)

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree that many b2b marketers try to go for multi-syllabic words rather than choosing simpler equivalents.

And too often they choose ego-centric fluff that sounds like a rambling, never ending mission statement.

But I'm not totally against using jargon for specific industries.

It depends greatly on the target audience. Engineers love their technical jargon. And using it in marketing helps establish credibility and rapport if the b2b company is targeting engineers

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Eric Rosen said...


Your remarks are spot on.

Some level of jargon is irreducible for the reasons you lay out.

The decision of where to draw the line must be based on the audience.

To put this in perspective, if insurance companies could be compelled by various US states to reach Flesch scores of 40 or 50 on their customer contracts, chances are, a wide array of other B2Bs could do the same in their industries.


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