Flash Fiction:
a complete story in one thousand words
or fewer.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Machete, Not a Scalpel

A marketing brochure just came across my desk. When you open the brochure's cover, there's a left-hand page (cover two) that contains a diagram and a few quotes, and a right-hand page that contains text. Here's the top of the opening page:
As federal agencies continue to struggle to increase service levels in the face of shrinking budgets, they also find themselves under more intense scrutiny than ever before -- from the public, as well as other departments and executive branches of government. In order to maintain peak levels of productivity and cost-efficiency, while meeting growing demands for transparency, accountability, and performance, they must re-invent the way they operate.

Business intelligence and enterprise integration solutions from Information Builders have empowered many federal government institutions to overcome their greatest challenges and reach their most important goals. By enabling the creation of a single, fully unified technology infrastructure; making complete and timely data readily accessible to employees, regulatory bodies, and constituents; and automating key processes and workflows, Information Builders technologies are helping federal agencies to transform themselves into more efficient, agile, and responsive organizations.

With Information Builders’ solutions, federal agencies can:
  • Increase visibility across the entire organization

  • Improve performance and productivity

  • Reduce operating costs

  • Better manage important programs and initiatives

  • Eliminate fraud, abuse, and waste

  • Share critical information with other agencies

  • Enhance service to and communication with the public

The problem is, there's almost double this amount of text following this, and all of this is supposed to fit on the first page.

Here was my recommendation back to the people creating the text:
Start by eliminating the entire first paragraph; we’re telling them things they already know instead of telling them our value. Then cut fluff and passive voice from the second paragraph to read:

Business intelligence and enterprise integration solutions from Information Builders help federal agencies transform themselves into more efficient, agile, and responsive organizations. They enable the creation of a single, fully unified technology infrastructure; make complete and timely data readily accessible to employees, regulatory bodies, and constituents; and automate key processes and workflows.

Shazam: 139 words just became 51. That, along with some less-intense hacking, the rest of the copy should fit.

This was clearly using a machete instead of a scalpel, but sometimes that's what you need.

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