9/20/13

The Legend of Jargon Hollow


It was 1987 and I was in my High School Freshman English class. We were asked to pick a partner and jointly write a paper on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving's tale of a headless horseman who terrorizes a small New England town. The assignment was to "be descriptive".  The teacher wanted as many adjectives and adverbs as we could use to describe the story, the characters, and the setting.  The kid sitting next to me scooted his desk next to mine and we started writing. Everyone else turned in a page or two, but we wrote eight or nine pages and still probably had fewer sentences than any other team. I bet that was the worst and the most painstakingly descriptive paper ever written on the subject, but we got an A.

I was reminded of that incident recently when a colleague forwarded a vendor's email.  The email was so full of jargon as to be comical. 

"...we are a global customized research solutions provider. Since 2003, we have worked with a number of law firms in US and Europe - supporting decision makers tasked with responsibility for their firm’s growth - with quick and insightful research on key initiatives relating to business development, client retention or strategy execution.
"Our offshore research model with 350+ analysts based in India - pioneered by McKinsey and now used by many professional services firms - allows us to cost-effectively service both urgent or quick turnaround research requests as well as in-depth market or competitor intelligence assessments. [Our company] is a knowledge partner of choice to several Fortune 1000 companies and SMBs in the US, Canada & Europe. We have executed research assignments in more than 80 sub-sectors entailing analysis of market and competition dynamics in 50+ countries, using a judicious blend of secondary data sources and primary interviews with industry stakeholders."
I know what all of the words mean, but...

Why do people write this way? It's not easy to read or understand. It doesn't make you or your company sound more impressive. If your marketing materials read like my freshman English paper, I would really hate to see what your research looks like.  Try this...
"...we are a global [ ] research [ ] provider. Since 2003, we have worked with a number of law firms in US and Europe - supporting [people with] responsibility for their firm’s growth - with [research] relating to business development, client retention or strategy execution.
"Our [business model,] with 350+ analysts based in India – [DELETED Irrelevant] - allows us to [ ] service [] urgent [DELETED Redundant] research requests as well as [ ] market [and] competitor [ ] assessments. [Our company] is a [vendor] of choice to several Fortune 1000 companies and SMBs in the US, Canada & Europe. We have [helped companies] in more than 80 [industries] in 50+ countries, using [ ] secondary data sources and primary interviews with [people in each industry]."
Now, I'm not saying that's the greatest copy ever written, but at least I can understand it without rereading it four times.


Bookmark and Share

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you could think outside the box enough to leverage this e-mail into a blog post.

Clare Lynch said...

Good job. After that initial pruning, the next step would be to make the copy less about "us, the vendor" and more about "you, the buyer".

 

© 2014, All Rights Reserved.