Buzzwords and phrases are common to just about every industry and every business situation. But while your colleagues may understand the jargon you use, your customers and prospects probably don’t. In marketing, what you say and how you say it are critical to success. Here are five tips to help you swat the buzz and make your next business letter or marketing piece clear, concise, and jargon-free.
- Keep it simple. As a prospective customer, I want to know what your product does and how that will benefit me. I don’t want to hear a bunch of techno-babble and gobbledygook meant to make you look like the smartest person in the room. Use short, declarative sentences and plain, common words. Focus on benefits (what’s in it for me) rather than technical details. Avoid hype and outrageous-sounding claims.
- Consider the audience. There may be times when it’s ok to include some jargon in your communication. For example, if your audience speaks your industry’s language and understands its terminology, a little jargon may actually help to build credibility and confidence. But try to use it sparingly, even in these situations. Too much jargon (even with those who understand it) can end up sounding pretentious.
- Provide a definition or analogy. Sometimes, it’s impossible to avoid technical terms when describing a product or service. If you find yourself needing to use a technical term that your audience might not understand, try to explain what that word means in simple, layman’s terms or through an analogy. Both of these techniques are used commonly on TV shows that deal with highly technical subject matters.
- Avoid acronyms. Abbreviations have their place, but usually not in customer communication. If you can’t avoid acronyms altogether, or you believe the piece will flow better with an acronym or two thrown in, make sure you explain what the acronym stands for the first time you use it.
- Get some feedback. Once you’ve completed your initial draft and proofed it, have someone else in your office read through it, too. Try to choose someone who is not as familiar with the project you’re working on, so they can come at it with fresh eyes and a different perspective.