Thursday, July 30, 2009

“The Gobbledygook Manifesto,” by David Meerman Scott

On this blog, I have devoted five posts to explaining why empathy is the most important skill a marketing writer must have:

When a reader says your writing is not clear
Empathy for the non-technical reader
Writing can make or break the sale
Empathy always matters – sometimes a lot
The greatest error: failure to empathize

I have been intentionally frank. But you’re still with me, so I’m going to recommend another frank document about empathy. This document can boost your empathy. It can boost your ability to use the kind of language your buyers want to see and hear.

It’s The Gobbledygook Manifesto, by the renowned marketing strategist and bestselling author David Meerman Scott. It is a brief (10-page) and powerful appeal to marketing writers to stop using “superlative-laden, jargon-sprinkled hype” and start using “plain language” that tells buyers “what specific problems your product solves” – and to use this language all the time.

For many years, I supervised teams of marketing writers and editors. If The Gobbledygook Manifesto had existed back then, I would have made my people memorize it.

David says that many marketing writers don’t even aim their words at buyers:

“Because these writers don’t understand how their products solve customer problems, or are too lazy to write for buyers, they cover by explaining myriad nuances of how the product works and pepper this blather with industry jargon that sounds vaguely impressive.”

If that sentence does not describe the way you work, be proud and walk tall. You are one of the champions. But I still think you should read the manifesto. It could help you educate your colleagues and managers.

The Takeaway: Download The Gobbledygook Manifesto, by David Meerman Scott. Print it out and read it. Read it again every three months so you won’t backslide. And follow David’s blog – he frequently comments on gobbledygook in his posts, as in this recent example.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joe,

    Many thanks for pointing to my Gobbledygook Manifesto.

    I did an update of the analysis. I analyzed all 700,000+ press releases issued in North America in 2008. The most overused word was.... "Innovate"

    Here's the full analysis

    By the way, this is a cutting-edge, world-class, mission-critical blog.