Justin Rubner

Posts Tagged ‘Acronyms are copy killers’

Why Acronyms are FUBAR, part I

In copywriting on 06/13/2009 at 2:02 am

Pop quiz!

Guess what these business acronyms stand for:

  1. MAC.
  2. SMR.
  3. DSS.
  4. TEM.
  5. BI.
  6. DMS.
  7. VMS.

I’ll stop you. Because there are no right answers. MAC can mean “media access control.” It can also mean “move, adds or changes.” And there are limitless entries for what SMR means. (I saw it recently as a “social media release.”)

The moral of this quiz?Acronyms and marketing copy go together like Sarah Palin and David Letterman. Or the NRA and PETA.

Acronyms are copy killers.

Yes, I hate acronyms.

I can’t hammer this home strongly enough. You obviously can’t avoid all acronyms; some are crucial to your industry and others have become part of our lexicon. But most acronyms are completely unnecessary in marketing, PR (yes, I’m aware that’s an acronym) and editorial copy. Even business-to-business technology marketing copy. In fact, more often than not, they make your websites, press releases and other marketing materials appear second-rate.

You might be saying, “Acronyms make me sound sophisticated.” No, they don’t. Sophistication is explaining your complex technology or business process in a way that anyone understands. Sophistication is not mucking up your copy with capital letters.

CAPITAL LETTERS ARE NOT NICE ON THE EYES. THEY CAN ALSO CAUSE HEADACHES. DO YOU REALLY WANT TO GIVE YOUR PROSPECTS HEADACHES?

Acronyms are copy killers

Acronyms are copy killers

Worse, some–if not many–of your prospects might not understand what you’re saying, at least at first. And that can make them feel unsophisticated. Perhaps even stupid. Do you really want to make them feel like this? Well, if your marketing copy is laden with acronym soup, then you are doing just that. I promise.

Want another reason to substantially lessen your use of acronyms? When we read words, there are certain processes our brains go through in the nanoseconds it takes to read the words and comprehend them. When we read acronyms–they’re simple ciphers, really–it is yet another process our brains have to go through to decipher the gobbledygook that is so common in business-to-business copywriting today.

One of the biggest goals of marketing content, and news copy, is to get your point across without making readers (and their brains) work to much. Acronyms can really make a reader stumble.

Don’t make your readers stumble. Don’t make them feel stupid. And certainly don’t give them headaches!

Well, that’s enough for now. I’ve got to work on a new SOW. You know what they say, right? ADAD.

Oh, and please standby for part II of this blog post.

B4N.

-Justin

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.