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Connexus : Issue 39
Marketing 40 Connexus Get the message? let’s not mince words. Plain English and good information design are crucial to doing business. By CyNDI TEBBEl Australian businesses spend billions of dollars each year on communicating with their customers, but the messages often fail to give recipients the infor mation they need to make decisions. The communications fall shor t. Or, rather, take too long. Failure to communicate effectively can be costly, says Dr Neil James, director of the Sydney-based Plain English Foundation. As a simple example, he points to a 2005 survey by Britain’s Royal Mail. It asked 1000 customers about the documents they received from businesses. “ Thirty per cent didn’t trust, and wouldn’t do business with, companies that produced mater ial with spelling and grammar mistakes,” he says. The Royal Mail estimated that poorly worded and badly designed text was costing British businesses £41 billion a year in lost trade. The call for text in plain English isn’t new, and some industries are making progr ess. “ If you compar e a mor tgage today to one from 20 or 30 years ago, there’s a world of difference,” says James. “But it’s hard to find industry-wide statistics so we tend to fall back on individual case studies and broader sur vey research about customer preferences.”