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Fifty Cent Words are a Dime a Dozen

I got this email the other day. Here it is verbatim…

Hi Phil,
May I send you information regarding an upcoming thought leadership summit focused on data driven decision making, integrated business planning and leveraging business analytics?


I don’t know about you, but that looks like a bunch of business book vomit to me. A “thought leadership summit”? (who is thinking about what?) “Integrated business planning”? (integrated with whom?) “Leveraging business analytics”? (what analytics from where?)

Even if it was from a company I recognized and trusted, I still might not attend because I would feel left out from the beginning because I don’t even know what those phrases mean. I don’t want to go where I will feel like a fool.

Your customers are the same way. They will not go where they feel foolish, either. Do not use words or phrases in your marketing, on the phone or in person that might make them feel that way.

Every industry has big words specific to that industry. But do not assume that your customers understand all those words. Whenever possible, use simple words that make the same point without making the customer feel foolish. Your customers will be more trusting, more comfortable, and more likely to act.

Hi Phil,

Can I send you an invitation to a meeting of business owners who want to learn new ways to look at data to make their businesses more profitable?


Alex, I would have allowed you to send me an invitation if you had written your request that way.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS One of my favorite Ernest Hemingway quotes… “Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”

One comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    Without a doubt there are many customers out their who like arcane verbiage, because they like to feel like they're in some privileged "in"-crowd, or feel like they desperately need to get into it.

    Your point still stands though, and very well-stated!

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