My personal New Year’s resolution was to stop making New Year’s resolutions and be happy with who I am. Unfortunately, brands and companies don’t have that luxury. The competition is always gaining, the market is always shifting, and customers are always demanding more for less.
So many companies resolve (in the business world a New Year’s resolution is its annual marketing plan or sales plan) to get better with grand schemes and often ridiculously unattainable sales goals. These are almost as bad as having no plans whatsoever. In fact, they are often more debilitating because they cause frustration and dissatisfaction on your team. Your corporate resolution should focus on the details, address branding and marketing challenges in manageable chunks, and target your improvements to areas that are critical to your customers.
Why not start by resolving to use clear, simple language in all your marketing materials? Sounds ridiculously easy, right? Like resolving to lose weight, good communication seems to elude many companies year after year. Here’s an example: This text is from the the top, center of a website homepage for a major U.S. corporation that is a leader in its field. (I promise, the only thing I changed is the company name. I have not altered the text at all.)
ABC Company designs, manages and delivers comprehensive service solutions through on-site service solutions and motivation solutions to create an outstanding experience for the people we serve. ABC’s goal is to drive greater satisfaction.
I have no idea what that means. I have no idea what industry this company is in, or who comprises the customer base that it is apparently so eager to satisfy. This blather is front and center, above the fold on the company’s homepage – the website’s most valuable real estate. And don’t get me started on how it fails to contribute to SEO. How is any potential customer (or investor) supposed to take away anything meaningful from those words? (I’d say sentences but I’m not sure that they actually constitute sentences, other than that they have subjects and verbs.)
This year online content development will continue to grow exponentially and will be the cornerstone for many integrated marketing communications programs. Jargon, poor writing and business speak will doom even the best conceived content plan or website to failure.
Resolve to use plain, easy-to-digest language in your marketing. Resolve to eliminate adjectives and jargon. Resolve to deliver the information your customers need in a way they can understand and use. Your sales numbers will thank you for it.
Now, where did I stash those sugar cookies?