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Cut through the jargon

As we all know, the financial services industry is a complex animal. Or is it? Maybe it is not as complex as it is made out to be.

Whenever we pick up the literature for a financial services product, whether it is for life insurance, pensions, investment, banking or some other product, how many items can you read through and understand first time round? I would suggest the answer is not many.

This industry seems hell-bent on writing material with as much jargon and long-winded sentences as possible and with minimal punctuation. Why? Do product providers think this makes them look good? After all, it shows that they know what they are talking about. True. But who is the literature for? The product providers do not need it. It is their product and they should know what it is all about.

The providers seem to lose sight of the fact that the literature is for the public, namely the ordinary man or woman in the street. What they also seem to forget is that their time is precious. There is no need to produce a 20-page brochure when three or four pages could cover the key information just as well.

It is for time product providers to put themselves in the customer&#39s shoes for a change. Take a moment to think about how you felt the last time a weighty document landed on your desk for you to read.

When did you get round to reading it, if at all? When you did read it, did you understand it? Or did you give up and put it to one side until later? That is exactly the process that Joe Public will go through. An enormous amount of money is spent each year producing glossy swathes of marketing material, a lot of which I suspect ends up in the bin. Yet product providers keep churning it out because they think that is what their clients want. In fact, what we all want is to have the information presented to us in a clear, concise and easy to understand format.

After all, if you have a really good product to sell, why wrap it up in a lot of pages which may never be read?

Many companies may say “why bother doing this now, the Saltr project will sort this out?” True, it will make companies focus on what they are doing but some may decide not to go down the Saltr route. What happens then?

If product providers are totally honest with themselves, I think they would all agree there is much room for improvement in their literature. Admittedly, some are getting better. Some are even achieving the Plain Eng lish Cam paign crystal mark for clarity in their literature. Others plainly are not.

You do not need to chase awards to become better at what you do. After all, if you do it right, the awards will come to you in time. Let&#39s face it, the best award of all in this industry is the new and continued support from the product-buying public.

Unlike politicians, you do not need opinion polls to tell you if you are getting it right, increased sales volumes will speak for them-selves. It is a tough industry to be in right now. There are a lot of companies out there all vying for the same business and this means a lot of marketing literature. The winners in this business will almost certainly be the ones who produce material the public wants to read. They are the ones who put their jargon behind them and who truly understand their customers&#39 needs.


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