I have to hold up my hands today. I am guilty of committing one of the cardinal sins of b2b marketing. Not just once but twice in the same day. In both instances I was able to overcome the issue, but only because I had been communicating on a one to one basis.
How do I know I had committed this cardinal sin? Because I received these reactions:
“Was does that actually mean?”
“Thanks for this, I understand some of it”
What was the cardinal sin? Using industry jargon.
To me there was nothing out of the ordinary in what I had said. But clearly my business vocabulary is too close to the product. This in turn is clouding my ability to talk about what we are doing with clarity.
Is this happening just where I’m talking to people on a one to one basis? Or is it a universal issue in how we communicate as a business? We’ll be taking a closer look at our communications as I want to make sure we are speaking in plain English. This will help our target audience of b2b marketers to comprehend our message. I’m sure you will agree this is more than a little important.
How can you check if you are guilty of this cardinal sin?
There are some obvious signs:
- Overuse of acronyms e.g. CRM, b2b, BI etc
- Overly long copy i.e. where you have had to elaborate to get your point across
- People outside of your industry cannot comprehend your message
This may sound simple. However when you work in complex industries – as many b2b marketers do – it’s likely there is a lot of standard industry jargon. It makes a lot of sense to you but your customers may be getting lost and consequently so is your message.
I like this piece of advice from business wordsmith Sid Smith on how to avoid using jargon: “Ask Johnny”. Ask the person actually using the product to describe your what it is and does for them. Chances are you will get a response in down to earth and words that are easy to understand.