Was it something you said?

Imagine if you could send an email to some busy people whose business you want to earn right now.
What would you say? How would you say it?
The temptation: To sound fancy, high-falutin; to sound grand; anything but ‘plain’.

One of the biggest misconceptions about writing to busy people, decision makers, senior executives, etc. is that they speak some alien language that has only a passing resemblance to the plain English you and I use every day. And that is why some believe that to sell to this special audience, you have to write to them in this special language. Yet the reality is: they are just people like you and I. They usually read the same blogs you do … go to the same movies … listen to the same radio stations … watch the same TV shows … have a bottle of Heinz ketchup in their fridge…

It’s true that some people (e.g. physicians, chemists, accountants, engineers, computer programmers, etc.) use the specialized language of their trade in their day-to-day work. But whenever they step away from their work (even if just in their minds), they lapse right back into being just people. So why not communicate with people in their native language—plain English?

Plain English is the language you should use when writing your copy. How do I know I am right? It’s simple: through testing. I have tested “plain English” copy against high-falutin copy (which for some clients was a must have) numerous times over the span of my career. 99 times out of 100, the same language that works for “ordinary folks” sells just as effectively to CEOs, Ph.D.s, etc.

My 2¢:
We can taste words.
The point I’m about to make may not be popular; it may not win me friends, but I must make it: most business websites, emails, brochures, etc. don’t taste very good. And that’s why I say that words can be a barrier to communication. (I sometimes wonder if people who insist on using those words speak at home as they do at work.)

So, what kinds of words are the most powerful? Plain words are the most powerful.
Even the best educated people enjoy plain words.
Not to mention, plain words are the only words many people understand.

When was the last time you looked up the word “plain” in the dictionary? Let me give you a hand:

1. Free from obstructions; open; clear: in plain view.
2. Obvious to the mind; evident: make one’s intention plain.
3. Not elaborate or complicated; simple.
4. Straightforward; frank or candid: plain talk.
5. Not mixed with other substances; pure.
6. Common in rank or station.
7. Not pretentious; unaffected.
Who knew that so much punch could be hidden in plain sight :-).