Use the KISS principle in all your marketing materials

The KISS (Keep it Short and Simple) principle can – and should – be used in your marketing and promotional materials. When it comes to writing, the KISS principle may also be called a plain language approach. And it makes your marketing more powerful and effective.

Regardless of what you call it, a simple, short approach is the most effective for marketing. This applies to both the amount of content and its presentation in your marketing materials. The first step is to eliminate unnecessary words. Next, review your document to ensure that the words are short, simple and easy to understand.

Some word processing programs tell you the reading level of the documents you write. For example, in my version of MS Word, I can do this by accessing

Tools >

Spelling and Grammar >

Options >

Show readability statistics.

This shows me the grade level of the text. For most marketing documents, a grade six or seven reading level is recommended. That’s for native speakers! Remember that you are marketing to people whose first language is not the same as yours. If the reading level comes out higher than grade 7, your sentences may be too complex to sell effectively.

Avoid colloquialisms in your international marketing material. If you were an ESL student, what would you think if you read, “…homestay families will look out for students…” in a brochure? Does that mean “keep vigil over them” or simply “protect them as their own parents would”? The phrase as it is could be difficult for a non-native speaker to understand.

You could re-word the above phrase to read: “Our homestay families care for you as part of their own family.”

Review your marketing materials to ensure they follow the KISS principle. You will find that students are more interested in your program because they understand what it is about.


This post is an excerpt from 101 Ways to Market Your Language Program It is “Idea # 10: Use the KISS principle in all your marketing materials”


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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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