The Science of Simplicity

Donald Trump won the U.S election. It was a genius campaign regardless of which political team you cheer for. But the simplicity of it was what got my attention.

Trump’s speeches especially. I’ve seen stories attacking his speaking ability, saying he speaks at an 8th grade level like this is a bad thing. Analysts have said he has the lowest score of any of the previous presidents back to 1929. Using data from his vocabulary and grammar they found his language was less diverse and a lot simpler.

But let’s give this some context. Donald Trump was trying to win an election. To do this you need to appeal to EVERYONE. From street sweepers to rocket scientists. Why risk alienating a group because you want to use flowery language and long, complex sentences? The same applies to marketing.

You want to write or speak so people can understand.

Trump speaks at an 8th grade level so that the millions of people he’s reaching understand him. While analysts were mocking Trump for his basic level of speech, millions of Americans were nodding in agreement to his message.

What is the point of having a massive audience and then losing half of them because you’re using words like “obstreperous”? Just say noisy or hard to control. It is nothing but a vanity exercise.


Simple is Winning

The goal of copywriting is to get people to act. You want their money and you want it now! But people are not going to give it you if they can’t even understand what you’re saying.

You need to write so people can understand. Write directly to the monkey parts of the brain. Even the smartest people like to read easy things. Nobody likes wading through a swamp of hard to understand jargon.

Keep sentences short.

Keep paragraphs short.

Keep words short.

Use lots of personal pronouns, I, he, she, you, him, they.

There is even a tool on Microsoft word that grades how easy something to read is!

The Flesch Reading Ease Score tells you if your document is easy to read or not. The higher the score, the easier the reading. Simply shorten the words or sentences until you get to the desired level.

A score of 60-70 is around a grade 8 level. This means 13-15-year olds should understand what you’re saying. That means 80% of the population can understand you. Coincidence Donald Trump also speaks at an 8th grade level? I think not!

Simplicity is winning. You want everyone who reads your copy to understand it. You don’t want your prospects to glaze over and click away. You have precious seconds to capture somebody’s attention so don’t waste it.

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