By Kim Gusta
Join my cause to write like a human - not a robot
The words “engaging and interesting” don’t normally occur in the same sentence as “technology marketing.” I think we’ll all admit, the vast majority of technology marketing content is really quite dull. Now why is that? Yes, we’re marketing complex products and our audience might be techie folks, but still. Why can’t we be more like B2C companies that make commodities like paper towels sound compelling?
Our industry’s marketing is littered with squishy terms like “robust”, “revolutionary”, “next generation”... I’m sure you can add to this list, and perhaps you’re shifting uncomfortably because you (along with me) are guilty of using these stilted and non-descriptive words at some point in the past.
I think we can do a better job and it starts with removing the “Frankenspeak” from our writing vocabulary.
I can’t take credit for the term “Franken-speak” − that honor goes to Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman who use it in their outstanding book Content Rules. As they say “…create content that sounds as though a person, not a corporate department, fashioned it. How? Simple: Write the way you talk.”
Let’s join arms on this. Let’s resolve to create content that sounds human – because we’re marketing to humans, after all, not machines. How do you get started? Strike words that can be said more simply. Be more descriptive and creative when choosing words rather than falling back on “robust” or “best of breed.”
Ask yourself if what you’ve written really makes sense – do the words, especially adjectives and adverbs, – really add to your audience’s understanding? Or are they fillers that sound fancy and merely take up space? Do your eyes glaze over as you read them? If so, there’s a good chance you’re using a bit of Frankenspeak.
If you’re trying to adopt these guidelines, but you still find yourself resorting to Frankenspeak, then maybe you need to do more buyer research. I find myself resorting to the techno-babble when I don’t know my audience well enough to get in their heads. It’s akin to MSU’ing or Making Stuff Up. The better you know your subject, the easier the words flow.
Humanizing our industry’s voice is a good cause. In the end, it helps all of us, because users will tune into our content, not out
What are your thoughts on Frankenspeak - do you think there are words that are over-used in technology marketing? How do you solve Frankenspeak when you find it creeping into your writing?
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