Monday, March 8, 2010


As a young kid I had a very difficult time reading and in turn comprehending. In fact I was deathly afraid of the tests that came around from time to time where we were required to read a couple of paragraphs and then write what we recalled from them.

Not too long ago, I was reading a somewhat philosophical book where the author instructed me not to read past any word that I did not understand. He said if I did, I would tune out. WOW! It all came back to me in that instant. That is exactly what happened to me as a kid.

After years of communicating powerful sales messages for my clients, here is what I can tell you. You must communicate your sales message on an 8th grade level.

You say, “But Keith, my product is more sophisticated than that.”

I am not referring to your product; I am referring to the language you use to sell the product. It is absolutely one of the smartest things you can do if you want to be effective.

If you’re in a state of reading or listening, and a word or a graphic is used that you do not fully understand that’s when you will begin to tune out.If the message continues to not be fully understood, that’s when you will tune out completely.

When I am working on a new selling proposition for a client I am not only interested in what each of the communication elements in my message are stating, but I am also very interested in how quickly and how well each is understood. If I discover one is vague, I will replace it immediately. I will dumb the communication down to an 8th grade level of comprehension. If you explore this phenomenon you will discover that target consumers are easily confused about what you and I consider simple terminology. I dare you to simply expose your selling proposition to your target consumers I promise you will be shocked at how many of them misinterpret your selling proposition.

Don’t overreact to the 8th grade level thing. You can still, very effectively explain complicated concepts using an 8th grade level of communication. In fact it is likely that the 8th grade language will be far more easily understood and enjoyed by your target consumer. If you have been watching the “Universe” TV series on the History Channel, you have experienced it firsthand. Throughout the series, of over 20 episodes, the producers have been sharing very complex concepts that explore the most complicated laws of physics and have done so using 8th grade language so you and I can understand.

The learning here is to be diligent when constructing your sales message, constantly check to ensure your words and images are fully understood. You will be surprised to learn that what you see as a very clear message, your target consumer may not understand at all. When we confuse consumers, we make them they feel insecure. Even a small amount of insecurity on the part of your target consumer is enough to lose them. Do not expect that your target consumer will work to understand your sales message, more to the point, why should they.


Keith Chambers

Keynote Marketing Speaker
Creative Marketing Consultant
(310) 473-0010

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1 comment:

  1. Whoa!!! you are so smart! That makes perfect sense!!!!