Are you using the right language to communicate with your customer?
Have you been to a party full of people from a different walk of life to your own? Maybe you were gatecrashing a tech event and felt out of your depth in the techie conversations. Perhaps you accompanied a friend to a college or school reunion and couldn’t join in the nostalgic conversation.
In both of these situations you’ll feel uncomfortable, you’ll be polite and smile sweetly but you’ll find it difficult to become part of the closed knit groups you have invaded.
As small business owners, it’s important we don’t make our customers feel that way. The easiest way to make our audience feel comfortable with us is to speak a language they use and understand.
Last week I joined a Blab hosted by Joel Comm. The topic was Disney and it was brilliant. Two terribly excited grown-ups shared their love of Disneyland and the Disney experience.
The Blab was fantastic, but I had a problem with the language. Watch the video below to find out why.
How To Get Your Language Right
There was nothing wrong with the language Joel and co were using in the Blab. It was perfectly fitting for their mostly US and UK audience. But are we using the right language when we communicate with our customers? Could we inadvertently be using words that don’t mean the same thing to them as they do to us?
There is no easy way to avoid these language faux pas, but we can follow a few rules to ensure we are speaking a language our customer is comfortable with. One that makes them feel like a welcome addition to the conversation.
1. Are you using the same language as your customer?
I don’t mean are you speaking French to a French man or German to a German. I’m talking about the actual words you use.
What colloquialisms do your customers use? How casual are your telephone or face to face conversations? Identifying a tone of voice and style that replicates these conversations both on and offline will put your customers at ease.
2. Avoid jargon
Jargon has a place. When we speak to other industry professionals it’s useful shorthand, it makes us feel part of the club.
Unless your target market are people within your industry or people familiar with the terminology you must avoid jargon.
I know terms that have become a regular part of my vocabulary such as ‘SEO’, ‘URL’ and ‘B2B’ cause confusion with delegates on my workshops. I’ve modified the way I use these terms now and always expand on them.
When you use Jargon in your social media posts it’s essential that you explain the terms you are using.
3. Be aware of cultural differences in language
This was at the heart of the story in my video. When you are speaking to people who live in a different culture, whether it’s the US, the UK, Australia or even Ireland make sure you aren’t pumping your posts full of colloquialisms. This will only distract or confuse your audience. If you are recording video or audio and have a strong accent speak a little slower and be more concise with your pronunciation.
4. Don’t fake it
There’s a British TV comedy series called ‘Allo Allo’. It’s set in France during the second world war. There is a character in it who is referred to as ‘That idiot British Officer who thinks he can speak French’.
Every time he appears he stumbles over words in a ridiculous French accent. It’s embarrassing to watch, even the other characters in the series are embarrassed.
Don’t be that British officer. if you are going to speak the language of your customer be authentic. Don’t use words you feel uncomfortable with just to fit in. Instead, find a tone of voice and a style of speech that works for you and relates to your target market.