Transform Technical Jargon into Reader-Friendly Marketing Materials
If you work in a highly technical field, chances are you've struggled with how to present technical information in your marketing, or on your Website, without losing the reader (or boring them to tears)...Especially if the end buyer isn't particularly technical.
Clients and folks at my workshops ask me how to write technical information in a readable way all the time. Here's a perfect example from one of my e-newsletter subscribers, Josie.
"In the market that I am in...Medical devices...There is a ton of
technical information. Digesting that down to a lay reading
level is sometimes difficult. Is there a handy guide or rule of
I know that you need to present everything in a 6th grade
reading level...How do you measure that, where do you find the
standard for that?
Then once you get there are you really saying the same thing
with the .05-cent words that you did with the .50-cent or $1
Since Josie is really asking 3 questions here, I'll tackle them
Question #1 - "In the market that I am in...Medical
devices...There is a ton of technical information. Digesting
that down to a lay reading level is sometimes difficult, is
there a handy guide or rule of thumb?"
Sadly there is no handy guide for turning technical info into good reading for a
lay person, but there are a few rules of thumb:
1) Write like you speak. Most of us speak at somewhere between
a 6th and 10th grade level naturally, even though we tend to
write at more of a 12th grade level (or higher, especially when dealing
with technical info).
So be sure to read what you've written out loud. Or better yet,
have someone else read it to you.
If you have access to a kid age 12-15, have them read it to
you then tell you what it means to them and what they remember
best. You'll be amazed at what you discover.
If you're still having trouble, try recording yourself explaining
the product or service to a friend. Often the things we say are far more
compelling and down-to-earth than what we write.
2) Turn 50-cent words into 5-cent words. Go through your writing and find every word with three or more syllables. Then try to replace it with one or two shorter words. Of course, sometimes technical jargon needs to be in there. But you can always explain the techie bits using less technical lingo and shorter words.
3) Focus more on benefits, less on features. Sure, the features are important and you should include them. But what people really want to know is how that feature is going to benefit them.
So keep the mention of features brief, and spend more time
explaining why that feature is so wonderful, helpful and
worthwhile that they absolutely must have it.
Question #2 - "I know that you need to present everything in a
6th grade reading level...How do you measure that, where do you
find the standard for that?"
This one's easy...In MS Word, go to Tools/Spelling and Grammar.
In that box, click Options at the bottom. In the Grammar
section, select Show Readability Statistics. Click Okay.
Next, go back into Tools/Spelling and Grammar. Run the Spelling
and Grammar check. At the end, a box will automatically pop up
with your Readability Score. As long as you're somewhere in the
6th to 10th grade level you should be fine.
Question #3 - "Then once you get there are you really saying
the same thing with the 5-cent words that you did with
the 50-cent or $1 words?"
Yes, you are saying the same thing, just with words that are easier to read and understand quickly. I always say "better" is better than "preferable"
However, you may find that even after you change it around your message still isn't jumping off the page and grabbing readers by the eyeballs.
The bottom line is the prospect needs to know more than just who you are and what you are selling. They need to know what's in it for them if they buy.
- Focus on relating to their problems, wants, goals and needs and showing how your product can help...
Make sure you include a clear, compelling benefit for every feature...
And use a conversational tone and words that are easy to understand... ...You should be well on your way. Happy writing!