Monday, March 21, 2016

The Clarity Commandment

The B2B marketing-scape is littered with statements like this one:

SpineMap 3.0 Navigation Software is designed to optimize the surgical experience through an intuitive solution which includes a personalized surgical workflow to help support OR efficiency.

Much of B2B copy not only bores, but breaks a rule Herschell Gordon Lewis calls "The Clarity Commandment:"

When you choose words and phrases, clarity is paramount. Don’t let any other component of your communication interfere with it. 

Like other commandants handed down, easier said than done.

Clarity comes from more than short words and phrases.

It comes from avoiding jargon and any terms with less than laser-precision.

"In our enthusiasm for creating uniqueness, sometimes we lapse into poetry or in-talk, or we pick up phraseology that may make sense within the office but is gobbledygook to outsiders," Lewis says. 

"Or we go just one step beyond clarity—not a cardinal sin, but not a message that’s quickly and clearly understood."

Clarity's at risk whenever ambiguity rears its head.

Think about the example above:

Really, what's an optimized surgical experience?

A personalized surgical workflow?

What is OR efficiency?

And clarity's at risk whenever we add the unnecessary.

Why an intuitive solution? 

Why to help support?

"Clarity is hog-tied to simplicity," Lewis says.

And simplicity's, well, simple.

Copy that doesn’t demand analysis is more likely to hit its goal—command of the reader’s attention—than complex copy.

PS. An inquiring reader asks, How would you handle the statement above? Here goes:

SpineMap 3.0 Navigation Software gives you a second pair of eyes and hands during back surgery. Less time in the OR means more time on the green.

Now, I think I'll go watch This is Spinal Tap.
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