When writing sales letters it is very easy to get too enthusiastic with a product or service description – especially when writing about your own business.
How often have you seen a letter or web page that just seems a bit OTT? Outrageous, unbelievable, over-the-top claims throw up barriers, even if the offer is genuine. Even if we are careful about making genuine claims we can sometimes slip into gobbledygook without even realising it!
So what, exactly, is gobbledygook?
The dictionary definition is: Unclear, often verbose language, usually bureaucratic jargon.
I think there is a bit more to it than that because there is a lot of confusing terminology creeping into our everyday language, jargon that really doesn’t make any sense at all. I often see jargon being used as a way of ‘blinding with science’. Not such a good idea because creating confusion in your prospect’s mind rarely turns them into a customer.
So why am I talking about gobbledygook? Well, after my post last Friday about making sure your messages are clear, I was intrigued by a question in an email I received from one of my LinkedIn groups that asked:
I guess we all have our favourite phrases or cliches, even if we avoid using industry jargon, but some of the language we use in our writing can set the BS bells ringing unintentionally and that, of course, can prevent a sale or response.
How can we check that what we have written is OK; that we are describing and explaining our offer in a way that is acceptable and isn’t likely to be seen as BS or gobbledygook?
Reading through the comments left by other members of the group I discovered two potentially useful tools:
- Bullfighter, created by Deloite and Touche, is designed to check your text for BS and
- An online garbage checker, called gobbledygook grader
The gobbledygook grader page also has a link to The Gobbledygook Manifesto, by David Meerman Scott, that reports on what are the most frequently used gobbledygook words – makes interesting reading.
Before you send out that all important letter or upload your crucial web page copy it may be worth using these tools to give it a quick checkover and then see if you agree with the results.
By the way, I ran this post through the gobbledygook grader and (phew!) I’m glad to say it got a 0 count of gobbledygook verbage.
~ Carol Bentley