Increase revenues by using simple English

Want proof that keeping your copy simple and easy to understand is more effective? Just look at Washington State. Like most government units, the Evergreen State is constantly trying to increase revenues (especially since there’s no state income tax).

A few years ago, tax officials noticed that use-tax revenues were below projections … and they hit on a way to boost them by $800,000 without raising their rates or subjecting business owners to water torture.

What they did was rewrite their tax notices. Instead of using the convoluted, bureaucratic jargon that had confused business owners, they rewrote the notices in plain, everyday English. Business owners were able to grasp their tax liability and correctly complete the tax forms. The checks followed.

If you want your customers, prospects, or other stakeholders to act, they have to be able to understand what you want them to do. If your language confuses or baffles them, they’ll either do the wrong thing or nothing at all.

Maybe the reason your communications efforts are less successful than you’ve hoped is that you’re writing them in words you understand, instead of in language your audience can grasp. Imagine if every message you sent was just 10 percent more understandable. What would that mean in terms of revenues? Confused calls to your customer service department? Misunderstandings and botched orders?

Keeping it simple isn’t stupid … it’s actually pretty savvy!