Jargon has become a staple in our business conversations. We use it for all sorts of reasons – to make us sound smarter, to relate to others in our tribe, to supposedly explain things in a more succinct or creative way. But the truth is: half the time we don’t even understand what everyone is saying. What the heck does it really mean to “get our ducks in a row” or “deepen customer engagement through interactive social experiences?”
It’s really tempting to speak to your customers in the same way you speak to people inside your industry. Most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. However, this is one of the quickest ways to lose your customers. Since we’re so inundated with marketing messages and ads, if someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying within a second or two, they move on.
Jargon isn’t always bad, but you should only use it when it makes sense for your audience and purpose. That’s why it’s crucial to remember that you are not your target audience. Instead, think about what would make sense to a customer.
Here are six ways to speak your customer’s language and describe your product or service in their terms:
- Share your message with a friend who is in a completely different industry, and have them tell you what they think you mean.
- Delete any cliches, industry terms, slang, etc., and replace them with exactly what you’re trying to say.
- Spell out or describe any acronyms. Avoid alphabet soup! (Oops, we’re deleting jargon. I mean unnecessarily using acronyms!)
- Think about how you would tell someone at a bar or social event about this product/service.
- Ask a six year old how they would say it. (Yes, I’m serious. Kids are an underutilized source for measuring if something is too complex. Check out this video on branding from a 5-year-old’s perspective.)
- Don’t talk. Just listen! How do your customers talk to you and with each other about your company? What words and phrases do they use to describe what you do?
These tips will put you on the road to de-jargonizing and re-humanizing. How do you put yourself in your customers’ shoes?