Copy readers understand? Or jargon?

by Karen

Business-to-business communications don’t have to be boring. They don’t have to sound like someone “...swallowed the wrong dictionary and then vomited all over the page.”

In fact, that’s an excerpt from a blog post by Drayton Bird on the subject of writing copy people can understand. He shares an example of a Groupon ad for a hotel. The copy is unbelievable. It made me wince and chuckle at the same time.

The secret to being understood is to keep it simple. Your copy should reflect how a normal person talks.

Just because you have a corporate blog doesn’t mean you have to spew out jargon or mile-long sentences. Nor does it mean you have to use a bunch of big words that don’t say a darn thing. You do need to put the reader’s interests first and not those of your company. This is referred to as reader-centric copy.

I have a few examples of my own to share. The copy is exactly what appears on the b2b websites except I don’t use the company’s real name. And I want you to know that although these examples have room for improvement … they’re far better than what Drayton found.

Aviation examples

What the website says: Our highly skilled team of professionals ensure the seamless operation of your aircraft whilst giving you the level of comfort and security that your aircraft is being looked after with absolute efficiency.

A simpler more reader-centric way: You want to know that every time you climb into an aircraft it’s in optimum working order. That means all maintenance is up-to-date and double-checked by top technicians. And that the rental process is easy and fast. That’s what clients of Acme Aviation have been enjoying for 28 years.

What the website says: Our holistic approach to aviation means that our management team will arrange everything from…

A simpler more reader-centric way: All you have to do is call or stop by. Tell us what you need and we do the rest. It’s that simple because we arrange everything from…

Facilities Maintenance example

What the website says: Leading the way in Energy Consulting and Conservation into the next decade, Acme consultants use state of the art technology to help you analyze and diagnose your building, which will save you money!

A simpler more reader-centric way: As a facilities manager you need to cut energy costs and conserve energy as much as possible.

Acme analyzes your building, outlines a plan to immediately reduce your utility bills, and we give you a plan to save you money month after month.  In addition, if you want to become LEED or EnergyStar certified, we can get you there too.

Energy – Industrial example

What the website says: At Acme, we pride ourselves on being an application-oriented, problem solving organization. As a specialized valve sales company, Acme carries a wide range of both commodity and special service valves to best meet our customers’ needs. Large and small businesses in oil and gas, petrochemical, pulp and paper, mining, water and waste management, and power generation industries count on Acme to access virtually any type of valve in the market.

A simpler, more reader-centric way: Your valve problem is solved. It doesn’t matter whether your business is large or small … whether you’re in oil and gas, petrochemical, pulp and paper, mining, waste and waste management, or in the power generation industry … Acme can put virtually any type of valve into your hands.

Our customers tell us day-in and day-out that they won’t go to anyone else because Acme is THE valve specialist.

I’m not saying my re-writes are how it MUST be done. I’m simply illustrating the difference. Plus I spent less than 3 minutes on each example. Given more time and research these examples can get even stronger.

Take a look at your website and anything else you publish. Are you writing so people can easily and instantly understand what’s in it for them? Or are you spewing all over the page and blowing your own horn? Unfortunately it’s far too easy to do the latter and not even realize it.

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