Archive for ‘Writing’

March 9, 2012

It’s ALL customer service: Welcome, guest. May we help you find a SKU?

There’s been a spotlight on the dangers of pompous, impersonal, and jargon-filled business writing recently, (including here on this blog,) and I’ll admit it can be difficult to rein in.  However, consumer-based businesses and communicators have no excuse.   They shop, eat, and listen to the radio, too, right?

Most retailers don’t have customers anymore, because “care team members” serve their “guests.” Apparently this is cozier.   For some reason, use of jargon has gone the other way.

Retailers now casually refer to SKU’s, and you may have a choice between a blister pack and “hanging assorted” at the store.  We get cash from ATM’s when we don’t have time to visit consumer banking for a debit.

When preparing a frozen dinner, instructions often say, “Remove product from its overwrap.” “Be careful, contents will be extremely hot.”  Mmmm, yummy.

One of my all-time favorites is a meteorologist’s prediction of a precipitation event.

But here’s what inspired me to write this post:  I was on the web looking for a restaurant address, and their site had a nice interactive map.  The instructions? “Click on your market.”  And I thought we had something special….

January 6, 2012

Can you read me now?

Katya Andresen’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog post today is on the importance of “cognitive ease.”  It’s titled Three little tricks to be more persuasive, and though the title is a little on the Manchurian Candidate side, I definitely like the message.  I wrote about complicated language in my post Utilizing Effectuated Methodologies (what?), so I’ll just address legibility here.

Katya writes:

The Nobel-prize-winning [Thinking, Fast and Slow,] author Daniel Kahneman talks about the importance of cognitive ease.  Things that are easy to read and easy to remember can be processed with cognitive ease.  On the other hand, things like instructions in a poor font or faint colors or complicated language cause cognitive strain.

It shouldn’t take a genius to know people need to be able to read something in order to get the message.  Apparently it sometimes does.  (Bonus: try to convince your kids this applies to homework, too.)

I frequently pass two different restaurants that have their owner’s signature as the sign.  I’ve gone by them countless times, and I still sometimes glance over as I’m driving by and think, what is that?

So before you analyze your website or blog’s colors, content, functionality and whatever else, make sure at least most visitors can actually read it.  Then do a web search on accessibility….

December 23, 2011

You kiss your mother with that mouth? Authenticity and your online self

toothbrush mouth

Photo credit: Marshall Astor on Flickr

Most all internet denizens have puzzled over how much to let their hair down on the web.  On one hand, we know once something’s out there, it’s out there forever.  On the other hand, we know if our audience is made up of potential donors, volunteers, customers, or other people we want to connect with, it’s important to be authentic.

So what’s authentic?  On social media, a lot of people seem to equate being authentic with cursing like a sailor.* One well-known social media newsletter included an “adult entertainer” on a list of successes we might emulate.  I’d tell you how she described herself, but I guess I’m too old fashioned.  I also wondered what his wife thought.

I was reminded of that yesterday when I searched Think Productive game GTD,** and Google suggested Think Productive game WTF.  I’ve even seen a rabbi write WTF online.*** What’s that about?

I propose being authentic as a person or an organization means talking about things you care about and find interesting, being honest without spilling everything, and letting your emotions and humor show once in a while.****

What do you think?

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* No offense to sailors.  I love sailors.  I mean, um, not literally or anything.

** Getting Things Done by David Allen.  I think I heard about the game (Epic Win) from Think Productive’s Graham Allcott.

*** Not my client Hayim Herring.

**** But don’t use a lot of footnotes, that’s just annoying.

Maybe I should tag this wtf to get more hits….

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