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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Virtuous Circle of Plain English MarCom

You vote with your subscription and I can't thank you enough. As of yesterday, Copywriting Tune-ups passed the 1,000 subscriber mark in fewer than 90 days.

I take this as a sign plain English marketing communications for B2B marketers is an idea whose time has come. By not bombarding our readers with jargon and corporate-speak, we can't help but to come across as warmer, more human. Speak from the customer's point of view and explain what's in it for them and you have a recipe for sales, leads and loyalty.

This is not only a matter of doing things right but doing the right thing and how the two form a virtuous circle.

Consider a dysfunctional example first. In many states around the country, insurance companies are compelled by law to offer their customers contracts written in plain English. What required the state to get involved? Widespread customer dissatisfaction.

Assaulted with phrases like, "Party of the second part waives its right to trial by jury in a court of competent jurisdiction provided the party of the first part...," how can a customer feel like a customer, let alone, "King?"

By the way, what metric do they use to gauge this? Our erstwhile friend, the Flesch Reading Ease! To be considered plain English, the contract must score 40 - 50. When I see a technology company's marketing literature score a 30, I'm in awe.

This may be over-simplifying, but high customer-satisfaction ultimately translates to shareholder satisfaction. By no means do I wish to elevate copy beyond its rightful place, but let's face it. B2B companies have access to the same offshore labor pools, the same technologies, the same capital sources, and comparable executive talent. And yes, any one of them can hire a top notch marketing writer, but how many of them do?

So, copy beckons as your competitors' Achilles heel. Exploit this opening and your gain in market share will leave them wondering what's missing from their technology mix. By the time they catch on, it's too late.

This new way of doing things right is the right thing to do because it's a win-win all around. Customers and prospects win because your copy treated them respectfully when no one else would - they understand your value proposition and follow your call-to-action thanks to your plain English literature free from jargon and corporate-speak. You win because your company strengthens its market position. Shareholders win because they earn a higher rate of return for practically no additional investment.

Too facile an argument? Maybe. Plausible? Definitely.

To your marketing success,

Eric Rosen
Strategic Marketing Writer
Clear Crisp Communications
Easier to Read Means More Sales and Leads

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