When I was a kid, I used to beg my Mum to keep buying Rice Krispies for my breakfast, even though she insisted they had ‘no nutritional value’.
I couldn’t understand what she meant. Rice Krispies are solid. They’re made of something – rice. How can they have ‘no nutritional value’?
Well, yesterday, I saw something that equates to this statement. I saw this on the website of a company that – let’s just say – work in the ‘professional services’ sector:
‘We have developed an innovative, hybrid resourcing model, offering multi-layered services which combine bespoke advice for complex matters with high quality, process driven, cost-effective services.’
This is the written equivalent of ‘no nutritional value’: There are words, lots of them, but that sentence means absolutely nothing.
Seriously, have a go at translating/paraphrasing it. Struggling?
It’s simply a collection of business buzzwords, randomly scattered on a page, with a couple of conjunctions thrown in: it’s a sherbet flying saucer without the sherbet in.
Please, please, please – for the love of all that is sacred – if your business offers professional services, try to avoid waffle like that sentence.
I’m sure the type of client looking to work with you is highly intelligent and knows what they’re looking for, but they also speak plain English, so why not talk to them in that?
Talking in business-gobbledegook just makes it look like you can’t communicate in a simple fashion, and working with you – potentially – will take a lot of effort.
I wish the sentence I used as an example was a one-off, but it’s not: I see copy like that all the time.
Surely the very basis of marketing communication – which includes web copy – is, well… communicating with as many potential clients as possible. Why would you want to alienate a chunk of your audience by making them think you’ll be a pain to work with? (as a caveat to this, I understand that ‘professional services’ have a target audience who may be smart, business-savvy, knowledgeable etc, but you can still talk to them like normal humans, whilst sprinkling your copy with reassuring, professional terms).
Anyway, I’m off to strategise over a multi-layered bowl of Rice Krispies.