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.

Print:
EmailTweetLikeLinkedInGoogle Plus
Photo of Ryan McClead Ryan McClead

Ryan is Principal at Sente Advisors, a legal technology consultancy specializing in cross-platform solutions and support.  He has been an evangelist, advocate, consultant, and creative thinker in Legal Technology for more than 15 years. In 2015, he was named a FastCase 50 recipient, and in 2018, he was elected a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In past lives, he was an Innovation Architect, Knowledge Manager, a Systems Analyst, a Fashion Merchandiser, and Theater Composer, among other things.

  • Anonymous

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

  • 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".