This article will not empower you to leverage the paradigm shift of the new globalization platform in seamless, value-add enterprise solutions.
What was that? It's just a bunch of bull, right?
Unfortunately, typical marketing communications are full of buzzwords that use “powerful” language in an effort to communicate a message. They succeed only in blurring their message so that it becomes meaningless.
Your Next Impression May Be Your Worst
When people read bull-laden copy, several things may occur, and they're all bad.
The reader may read on with a skeptical mind, summarily dismissing your message as untrustworthy—not good when you have a mission to accomplish. She may abandon the piece altogether—disastrous in terms of getting your message through. She may modify her impression of your product or company in an adverse way—this could affect not only an immediate buying decision but also future business.
Copy that fails to ooze credibility and earn trust tends to create a domino effect. The downside of weak marketing copy is as immense. With enough bad vibes out there, you might even hear the stampede of customers—running away from your company in droves.
Clean Up Your Copy
Words are powerful—perhaps the single most powerful force in marketing. Good copy can be extremely effective. It's what all copywriters seek the moment their fingers hit the keyboard.
What if there was a way to run all of your copy through a quick filter before it hits the public eye? A filter that traps all those useless phrases and helps you convey your message in terms your audience will really understand?
Your audience would begin to trust you again. Maybe they'd even contact you, become clients, and give you loads of business because you speak to them in a language they expect and appreciate.
Technology to the Rescue
Your prayers have been answered. I discovered a nifty little tool that can help writers and nonwriters alike: The folks at Deloitte Consulting have developed some free software that will scan your Word documents and PowerPoint files for bull.
With every scan, you'll receive a “Bull Index” score, a Flesch Readability score and a composite score. You can not only benefit from the Bullfighter's database of buzzwords but also add your own heinous terms to the list.
The software grafts itself into your program, adding the appropriate buttons for calling up Bullfighter when you need it. It's as easy as using the spell check feature, and much more fun.
Origin of the Bullfighter
Knowing that Deloitte was as guilty of using needless jargon as any company, Deloitte Consulting Marketing director Chelsea Hardaway led a project to create a tool to help ferret out words that hamper communication. She acquired 10,000 “bullwords” from company employees over the course of nine months. Approximately 350 words made the final dictionary when the software was released. Some of the most hated words were “leverage” and “bandwidth.”
The firm scanned documents from the 30 companies in the Dow Jones Index. The results showed that Home Depot scored highest, and most tech companies scored poorly. Deloitte Consulting says it believes that there is a direct link between clear communication and corporate performance.
Five Tips for Bull-Free Communications
- Avoid industry jargon. The industry-specific language you use is not as universally understood as you think and can be confusing.
- Write shorter sentences. Like this. Instead of going comma-crazy, break your thoughts into separate sentences.
- Add your own terms to the Bullfighter list on your computer. Your system will relentlessly flag the terms you frequently abuse.
- Speak to your audience. Use “you” instead of “we” whenever possible, and stay away from superlatives. You'll win more clients and fewer bragging contests.
- Let someone outside your industry read your copy and explain it to you. This is the best way to test your writing.
Not All Wine and Roses
Lest you think Bullfighter is a catchall solution to writing perfect copy, there are a couple things to note. First, Bullfighter might completely ignore sentences that don't have any real meaning, especially when you use plain words. The software looks for bull, not intelligent writing. The following phrase would not be flagged as bull, but it is definitely not good writing.
“The orange insurgence of recreational instruments is conditional.”
Second, some words you use will reduce your score because they are in your bull list, but are absolutely necessary and appropriate in your context. Don't try to achieve the highest score in Bullfighter. Common sense is the rule here.
Get your copy of Bullfighter here: http://www.dc.com/insights/bullfighter/downloads.asp
Bullfighter only works with Word and PowerPoint in Windows 2000 and XP, not Windows 95/98 or Office 97 applications.