Saturday, July 12, 2008

Two Things to Create More Compelling Collateral

There are hundreds of tips and ideas for creating compelling printed and electronic collateral, but today I had an interesting set of experiences that reminded me of two things that really matter -- the feel of the piece, and reader comprehension level.

The Feel of the Piece: I was working on a referral sheet (see my previous post) today that was just not coming together for me. It had all the right words, but it just didn't feel right -- after frustrating a bit I put it aside to let it simmer. Later, I was in a meeting with several people and one the executives, commenting about someone she had met recently stated, "He looked nothing like I expected him to look like."

EUREKA! As soon as I got back to my computer and pulled up the one-sheet, I knew immediately what was wrong. The "look" of the sheet didn't match the "feel" of the person I'd created it for.

My solution was to replace all of the text with Lorum epsum and look at the page only as a graphic expression. It worked!

Reader Comprehension: Studies have shown that the average comprehension level for all readers, no matter the level of education, is equivalent to that of a sixth grader.

After arriving at the "right feel" for the one-sheet I was creating, I pasted the text into a new document on Google Docs and then selected "Word Count" from the "Tools" menu. The pop-up window offers lots of great data about your document including the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level ranking -- and I kept rewriting until I got a 6.o (grade) rating.

The thing to remember in this little exercise is that too often we write to sound like experts (lots of big words) and forget that we just need to be understood (lots of little words).

So add these two tips to your list of things to consider when creating collateral (printed or electronic). Your audience will appreciate your thoughtfullness.