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Zoom + Enhance is a virtual agency based in Bend, OR. Cody Pinkston handles writing, editing, motion graphics, and video. Amy Pinkston handles most design work. If we can’t do what you need, we know people who can.

A simple message usually wins.

Pick any website, white paper, brochure, etc. and read it. Right away you can tell if the person who created it knew what they were doing. If so, it looks professional and is error-free, with artwork or photography that supports the message.

That alone is rare.

Now look at the copy. Is it broken out into clear headings and short paragraphs, favoring lists where possible? Does it use plain English or words like “modalities” and “schemas” and “utilize?” If you were in a hurry (or—gasp—occupied by other things) could you get the gist, or do you have to spend quality time with it?

If so, send me a link. I want to see it with my own eyes.

Which words appear more frequently—”us” and “we” or “you?” Is the writer talking to you about you or are they talking to a general someone about themselves and their organization? Does it seem like the writer understands anything about you? Does it answer your most essential questions?

The average American reads at about the 7th grade level. About 4 in 10 people have “basic” or “below basic” literacy skills. Now, before you think you need to “dumb down” all your public-facing content, look at it another way: Will someone with a PhD feel like you’re talking down to them if you say “use” instead of “utilize?” By the same token, will someone who got a D in high school English be impressed by your “industry-leading solutions” for whatever?

No, and no. Using “weekend language” (the title of Dave Yewman and Andy Craig’s excellent book about doing PowerPoint better) means meeting your audience where they live. The more literate they are, the less time they have to spend trying to understand your copy.

Simple language respects people’s time and interest

Whatever you want to say, it is about a thousand times less important to the people who might read it than it is to you. Those same people are dealing with all the same BS as you, be it a long commute, a sick kid, job pressures, or whatever distracts us in an average day. They have not, and will not make room for your message in their life, so YOU need to fit your message into theirs.

While attending the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in Washington State, I looked up to notice a plane trailing a GEICO banner. All it had was a picture of the Gecko and the words SAVE MONEY. They could’ve worked in a few more words with smaller type, but they didn’t, because they knew they had about two seconds if that.

Most of your website and other “who we are/what we do” marketing outlets are at the top of the funnel. That’s the place for big-idea, general-gist language, and that’s where I shine. My goal is to keep things simple and well-organized enough for your customers to digest quickly and easily. Combined with smart UX and design, that’s how you avoid confusion and meet your audience where they live.

The simplest message wins. Let’s win together.

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