Sometimes when people talk to me in the biz or in the office, my eyes glaze over. My mind blocks all incoming communication and I fixate on one thing — a solitary word. Not because of boredom or my being uninterested in the topic at hand, but due to the word or words that were just spoken. Odd words. Words that normal folk don’t use. Words that are created within the four walls of an organization — business speak and corporate jargon. And even some that are created within subsets of a business that the rest of the company doesn’t understand. Really? This happens? Yes. I’ve seen it over and over again.
Be suspicious of your words.
It’s easy to alienate your audience by using language that doesn’t make any sense to them. When it comes to B2B marketing, it’s hard not to use your company’s lingo, because that is the language you’ve assigned as a corporate culture. The problem comes when that “shop talk” has zero industry connection, but has become so common in cubicles, offices and production floors that the novel terminology leaks into your marketing communications. At that point, there is a real risk of distancing your business prospects and current customers.
Whether the verbal contamination is in your corporate and advertising materials or even internal dialogue that is disseminated to points of contact, such as media channels or your immediate community, the danger remains. While there is a new vocabulary connected to each industry and field, there still should be some sort of baseline English that all parties involved can functionally grasp. Every word should be intelligible.
Steps to cleaning up for clarity:
1. Minimize jargon in the workplace.
2. Simplify your categories and products.
3. Employ an outside consultant to wordsmith your communications.
4. When new words must be used, be kind, define.
Do your part and stop verbal pollution. It’s healthy for the business planet and for you.