A client recently shared with our team a few copies of the book Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean, by Josh Bernoff.
In sharing their “provocative” philosophy, they encouraged us to adopt this approach to clear, direct and straightforward content for the pieces we write on their behalf. As the content leader on the client, I read the book. And I loved it.
For the last decade or so, I have helped clients find their voice and tell their story. In fact, it’s an important part of the identity services we as an agency offer. Clients want compelling content, succinct messaging, ownable taglines, thoughtful logos, engaging websites and sales materials; but often they are too close to it. They want and need a fresh perspective.
Bernoff notes that more often than not, the problem lies in that we have been taught since grade school to “write verbose prose to fool teachers into believing you knew what you were talking about.” He’s so right!
Think about it. How often do you read something and are left wondering, “what do all those words mean?” Sure, this ingrained practice of word padding may have started in high school, with complicit teachers allowing for a little BS in essays, but it continues to proliferate in business. Our emails, sales materials, press releases, everything we write in business, all of it uses this passive, obfuscating business-speak. It’s how we hedge our bets. It’s how we take stands in marketing without actually standing up.
I see it every day. This widget isn’t technology, it’s a solution. Another isn’t online, it’s a cloud-based platform. Oh, and it drives ‘meaningful insights’…whatever that means. This manner of writing helps no one communicate ideas more effectively or to sell more units of anything at all; yet we see this type of messaging/language on the daily. It’s as if culturally people have actually wanted this kind of vagueness.
This book outlines exactly what I wish I would have penned, that writing, reading, communications, sales and marketing are all better off without BS.
Now, thanks to my new favorite writing bible, we should all have the tools to drive out the jargon, strike the decorative phrases, remove the qualifying words, say what we mean, and make the experience of communicating in business and marketing a little more BS free.
Check out Writing Without Bullshit for yourself on Amazon.