Skip to content

I just finished reading “The king of Madison Avenue” a good biography of the great late David Ogilvy, one of the most popular advertising gurus in history.

It’s pretty crazy to see how many of the old bad habits are still around to this date.

One of them is using jargon in your copy.

That is, either being overly formal or using words that your prospects would never even think of.

You can’t expect to resonate with them if you don’t speak at the same level.

This was one of the main concepts outlined in Ogilvy’s “Magic lanterns”, his principles for advertising that sells.

He created this ad-looking one pager and distributed around his agency.

In one of the “unpublished” memos from the book, Ogilvy gives a pretty clear example of how jargon can be terrible:

“In the draft of a new Lantern on sales promotion, I came across DELIVERY VEHICLE. . . . Later in the same draft, the author kept talking about the REDEEMER. Who do you suppose the Redeemer is? Jesus Christ, you suppose? Not at all. The Redeemer is a person who redeems coupons at the supermarket. Behold the Redeemer in his Delivery Vehicle.”

Made me laugh!

But it’s stuff you still see every day on websites, both from small companies and (especially) enterprise businesses.

Some element of formality is good for professionalism, yes, but that doesn’t mean you should write like a robot.

Clarity and conversational writing always win.

Conversational doesn’t mean using slang or writing like you’re chatting with your bartender (even though sometimes that’s what you want), you have conversations at work and in the boardroom, too.

They’re just different kinds. And sure as hell they don’t include words you would never use.

Keep that in mind, always.

As usual, look into your market to know how to talk to them.

BUT if you want quick help fixing your “jargony” copy, without spending months on research, you can book an audit here.

brain dump?

Every week I write about what I’m learning at my copywriting/UX desk ,with fun, insightful and quirky stories.

Let’s nerd about decision making, persuasion, habits, and conversion optimization.