Content Marketing, Digital Marketing

Clarity, Not Content, Is King

Whenever somebody says they want to ameliorate a situation, it usually means one thing.

They really hope you don’t know what ameliorate means.

Instead of trying to appear smart to your audience, be clear with them. Clarity is important in any form of communication, whether that’s marketing, public speaking or trying to win an argument with a significant other. As a reader, it’s frustrating to feel lost in the conversation.

Picture walking into a Harvard lecture on differential analysis. If you’re like me, within seconds you’d think, “I have no idea what they’re talking about.

I wouldn’t learn anything because I wouldn’t comprehend anything. As marketers, we shouldn’t make the lives of our audience harder. We shouldn’t be forcing them to use context clues. They shouldn’t have to piece together what we’re trying to say.

Journalism → Marketing

This is my first month with DeanHouston. In fact, this is my first month in marketing, period.

I spent the previous decade in the journalism business. While there are differences in marketing and journalism, the middle of the Venn diagram is a foundational concept: Write in a way to be understood. They say content is king, but what good is content if it’s not understood?

Most newspapers have a rule to write for an audience with a 5th grade reading level. That means taking complex issues, digesting them and relaying the message to readers in simple terms.

That’s where research comes in.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about a medical procedure, a recently passed piece of legislation or the benefits of an excavator. It’s important to understand everything you can about the topic. It helps you write confidently and clearly. The alternative is to write on shaky ground about a subject you don’t comprehend. That’s when you use overly complex words to mask the fact you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Sometimes You Need to S-p-e-l-l I-t O-u-t

A friend of mine was telling me about his experience in the Marines and he used a certain acronym – because if there’s anything military people love, it’s acronyms. When I told him that I didn’t know what the acronym meant, he used another acronym to explain the first acronym.

Dude, I don’t understand what you’re saying!

It’s always better to err on the side of being overly clear. Not everyone is an expert in everything.

For example, if you wrote:

“The National Association of Realtors argued that housing prices…”

What is the downside? Nobody is going to say, “You’ve insulted my intelligence! I know what the NAR is! I refuse to continue reading!”

Now, if you wrote:

“NAR argued that housing prices…”

Well, some readers may be thinking, “Who (or what) the heck is NAR? Is that like a Star Trek thing? Why should I listen to this so-called NAR about the price of my home?”

There is no harm in being clear.

The same goes for the words you use. If you’re writing to impress and mentally flex your vocabulary, you could fail because you lost the reader. Be clear and concise.

For example, it’s not a metallic gloss-based sheen with superlative visually stimulating qualities, particularly if it’s taken into account the impact it has on pupil and crystalline lens activities. It’s a nice-looking car.


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