Are You Forgetting Your Audience in Your Marketing Communications?

confused by jargonI worked with a client recently whose business targets a few different audiences. For example, he collaborates with similar businesses, but he also works with clients directly. I was editing some copy he’d written to appeal to that second group. What I found, though, were words targeted at the first group.

My client is an insider, so he didn’t think twice about using the industry lingo. What he meant was clear to him, and it would have made perfect sense to his collaborators. But the marketing piece wasn’t meant for that audience, and they wouldn’t be the ones reading it.

It’s tempting to use the lingo because so much meaning can be wrapped up in one word. That one word can save a lot of space and shorten your copy. But it also can shorten the attention span of readers who don’t get it. They’ll tune out and move on – to someone who understands them.

Yes, it’s clear by the language in your marketing communications whether you understand your customers. Get the words wrong, and those customers might end up with your competitor.

Industry jargon has no place in communications intended for outsiders. They’ll come to those words and either:

  1. be clueless and frustrated, or
  2. skip them entirely and miss part of the message.

You’ll need to be more specific and descriptive to reach these readers.

Common industry terms have their place, of course. If you want to publish an article in a trade publication targeted to your field, go ahead and use those well-known terms. You’re talking to people who are familiar with the business, so there’s no need to define what’s already understood.

Because I’m familiar with my client’s industry, I knew exactly what he meant. And I knew most of his clients wouldn’t understand.

So we explored ways to unwrap that word and explain more clearly what it means in terms that his audience would understand. And we ended up with three words instead of one. Not too bad.

What industry terms are you guilt of using?


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