Oh My Head Hurts When I Read This Copy

This, my friends, is copy that makes the head hurt: “(Company name withheld) is the premier Lean consulting company that assures a robust and sustainable implementation strategy for global corporations. (Company name withheld) accomplishes sustainable implementation through the development of the internal structure for deployment and then enables the workforce, at all levels, to maintain Continuous Improvement initiatives.”

The name has been changed to protect the guilty.

My point: of course, write for your customer; but please, write with clarity.

Most copy is written for the wrong audience.  Write for your customer, not for you.  The copy I cite in this post sounds like it’s written to make the honchos at the company feel really good about themselves.  Chock full of buzz words.  Oh yeah, sustainable implementation.  An internal structure for deployment and Continuous Improvement initiatives, and how cool are WE?!

Clearly, the company that proudly displays this copy on the home page of their website  has made an assumption you know who they are and what they do before you arrive at their site.  I must also assume that business is so good they can afford to operate under this likely-to-cost-you-customers assumption.  The words in blue, almost 25%, all buzz words: “(Company name withheld) is the premier Lean consulting company that assures a robust and sustainable implementation strategy for global corporations. (Company name withheld) accomplishes sustainable implementation through the development of the internal structure for deployment and then enables the workforce, at all levels, to maintain Continuous Improvement initiatives.”

Enough about them.

When you write copy, especially on your homepage or any landing page, understand one thing: you need to communicate what you do, how you do it and why you’re different; and you need to do it quickly.  My attempt at this on my home page is the 59 words at the top of the page and the 51-second video on the right.

Using plain English and avoiding buzz words communicates.  It creates shared meaning, which usually brings with it understanding.  And isn’t that what you’re after?  Or is it to feel good about yourself by leveraging your value proposition via the deployment of rhetoric congruent with your branding initiative?   Or by leveraging your branding initiative via the deployment of your value proposition. . .you get the idea.

Agree a little?  Read William Zinsser’s wonderful book, On Writing Well.

Agree and want to get serious about it?  Buy Jonathan Clark’s complete business writing course.  (full disclosure: Jonathan is a client. . .and arguably the best business writing expert active today)

3 thoughts on “Oh My Head Hurts When I Read This Copy

  1. Jonathan Clark

    “We help companies make more money by teaching their people to work better.”

    If you have to read something more than once to get the meaning, the writer has failed. I call it Writing to Impress (keeping that high school English teacher in mind), when we should, as Hamilton says so well, Write to Express..to express our thoughts and ideas.

    I need to work on my dentist about his Mission Statement. I saw it again this week and my only comment still is, “Say, what?”

  2. Rich

    Couldn’t help myself… I googled and found their site… very painful. However before I throw stones… I’d better check my own sites.

    All excellent points to review!

  3. Jonathan Clark

    Oops, Rich. I googled and found them, too. Adds a new twist to the “continuous learning” they espouse, no?

    And to think I once trumpeted the praises of this concept in my management and leadership seminars of the 1980s.

    Sigh.

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