That’s the title of a book on “no b. s. marketing” that one of my clients turned me on to. My client Dave is a copy writer on a mission to personalize the way business communicating gets done, and I absolutely agree. This book poses a fundamental question: why is it that people who are otherwise interesting, friendly, and good conversationalists, turn into double-speaking bores on auto-pilot when they write business materials? No one really wants to read what they’re putting out on emails, memos, and websites. Why do they keep on spreading the bull? The book cites 4 main reasons why business people end up sounding like idiots.
The Obscurity Trap
The authors make an interesting point when they blame “copy & paste” for much of business’ monotonous tone. Instead of writing fresh and relevant copy, many people just take worn-out paragraphs from things they’ve already written to fill up the page. (Who hasn’t done this?) No wonder everything sounds alike–it’s the same stuff over and over again. More crimes in the obscurity trap are evasiveness and jargon. This is rampant in corporate America, but you can see it everywhere. I notice this a lot in the holistic wellness fields: “access your higher consciousness,” “quantum fields of infinite potential,” etc. After awhile, it all starts to sound gimmicky–even if there’s some truth in the statement.
The Anonymity Trap
In trying to sound “professional” many businesses end up being boring. Where’s the humor? How about a little personality in that worn-out PowerPoint presentation? One of the things that really got me fired up on this topic is those “business” graphics you see all over the internet. You know, I’m talking about the ones with the handshake or serious-looking boardroom meetings. Equally bad are those anonymous nail & hair salon posters, like the ones with the dragon-lady hand clutching a fistful of cash. How about some real pictures once in awhile?
The Hard-Sell Trap
One of my favorite pet-peeves comes under this topic: the fake FAQ. Don’t get me wrong, I love FAQ- style pages! But the business writers forget that FAQ stands for “Frequently Asked Questions,” and they write leading questions that no real person would ever ask. Don’t use jargon or stupid questions that lead your readers down a hard-sell pitch. Other hard- sell tactics are used when trying to deliver bad news. If the news stinks, don’t try to cover it up with flowery descriptions. Just tell people the truth, apologize, and move on to a solution. Stop trying to sell more bull.
The Tedium Trap
If you want people to read you message, you need to make it easy. Not because people aren’t smart, but because they’re busy. If you make it too tedious to read, people will skip over your writing. The “tedium trap” is most obvious on the internet. I’ve noticed a disturbing trend towards websites that use .8 size grey font. Website & graphic designers think this looks cool, but no one over the age of 40 can read it. Don’t be tempted to copy them in an effort to look sophisticated and “professional.” That’s the core message of this book: don’t exchange effectiveness for mediocrity
If you’re in a holistic business like a spa, salon, or alternative health care practice, don’t think that business bull-speak doesn’t apply to you. It may be even more important to you, because your business is all about making a connection with your client. Instead of copying others, it’s always better to be yourself. Let your potential clients get an idea of what you’re all about. Be funny. Be friendly. Be imperfect sometimes. One of my life philosophies is that it’s always better to be rejected for being your SELF than to be accepted for being something that you’re really not. Go ahead and take some risks and live authentically in your life and in your business.
Even if you’ve never bought a business book in your life, you’ll enjoy reading “A Bullfighter’s Guide: Why Business People Speak Like Idiots.”
This easy-to-read guide uses outspoken humor to make hilarious examples of what NOT to do. It will definitely help you to rethink your marketing materials, while making you laugh at the wacky world of business communications.[Click here to buy it.]
Jaya Savannah - Chief Inspiration Officer. Strategy Coach for Holistic Businesses. Trainer, speaker, and writer. Spiritually aware, yet street smart. Elephant lover.