Make Your Marketing – Not Your Prospects – Do The Work

Do you have too much to read? Memos, reports, letters, e-mails, leaflets, newspapers, magazines, catalogues, direct mail? And are they breeding like wire coat hangers?

Well, in a survey some years ago, US business leaders were asked what change they would most like to see in business. They didn’t talk about accounting or strategy. The majority pleaded: “Teach people to write better.”

They just had too much written garbage to plough through. We all do. If you read most stuff put out nowadays it is appalling. Badly written, dull – and often downright incomprehensible.

Yet bad writing is not necessary if you can just count.

This was discovered by Rudolph Flesch, an American, who spent years in the 1940’s researching what makes for easy reading. As a result he formulated some very easy rules.

The simplest is, make your sentences short. The easiest sentence to take in is only eight words long. A sensible average is 16 words. Any sentence of more than 32 words is hard to take in.

That’s because most people tend to forget what happened at the beginning of the sentence by the time they get to the end. You must make it easy for people.

And the same applies to paragraphs. Vary them, but keep them short, containing only one or two thoughts – especially the first one. A long opening paragraph is daunting.

And happily Microsoft Word has a tool partly based on Flesch which will help you. Just go to Tools/Option/Spelling & Grammar/Show readability statistics. If you use that option it automatically tells you how readable your stuff is.

Oh – and whatever you do, ignore their grammar suggestions – they’re 100% useless.

But that’s another story.

About the Author


In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.

He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.

Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.

He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.

1 Comment

  1. I am the wife for the past 35 years of a 100% disabled veeratn combat corpsman who fought in Viet Nam. We have lived PTSD as a married couple and a family with 2 children. It has been hell. Every aspect of our lives have been taken by PTSD. We have and are still having counseling to cope. What a combat veeratn goes through in 6 months is equeal to a lifetime of abuse. Just think of that. I have been asked by many women, as I spoke to Veteran Organizations, if I had been looking in their windows It is the sanme. If I can do anything to lead a peer group for wives and families I would be honored. When we go into the VA Medical Center Psycology Dept. I am brought to tears seeing these young families just beginning their long journey that is ahead of them. God Bless you all for what you are doing. I have a Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate which I aimed my studying at Combat Veterans who use alcohol and drugs to self medicate.

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