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Bad business copywriting isn’t caused by complexity

The most important lesson in copywriting is to write in the way a human might speak. Look at the adverts in a trade magazine, the serious introductions to data sheets or the company descriptions in a trade exhibition catalogue, and many of them will have been written using a strange phrasing used nowhere outside of written business text.

When people tackle this, they often start by removing (or explaining) the technical terms, such as acronyms. This is not where the problem is. Listen to a customer or salesperson talking, and they’ll probably use the same terminology. Bad business copywriting isn’t caused by complexity, it’s caused by using words that no human says unless they’re reading out loud, such as ‘leading’ or ‘leveraging’, ‘scaleability’ or ‘synergy’, ‘best in class’ or ‘bleeding edge’.

A number of people are forecasting a significant future increase in people using ‘speech-to-text’ rather than keyboards to get their thoughts down. Once we’ve got to terms with it, in business at least, I think that may lead to some much more effective writing.