Speak Your Customers’ Language

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People in the marketing profession are often instructed to speak their customer’s language. While no one doubts value of the above it is rarely defined how one might actually do it. So let’s see if we can’t breathe new life into this old maxim. Why is it important to speak a customer’s language?
Most marketers see no difference at all, and this is their fatal error. As businesspeople we develop tunnel vision regarding our products. The better parts of our days are spent actively working in our fields. We are more experienced and well-read than most ever care to theorize about. This leads us to use super-specialized language that doesn’t always click with customers. I was as guilty of this as anyone. When I did anti-spyware I was guilty of calling my product a “data-driven Internet security solution” or “gateway threat prevention.” And while these terms do apply in a certain context of knowledge (say, a rival CEO’s), they are outside of the realm of a typical customer’s knowledge base. Now that I’m out of that market I can see it with fresh eyes, including the much simpler terms the common man describes it with.
A friend recently asked me to reccomend a good “virus protector.” My first thought was, “What a ridiculous term. Who wants to protect viruses? The single goal of any AV program is to destroy viruses!” And while that’s perfectly logical, the fact remains that my friend wanted a “virus protector.” A savvy PPC marketer could probably advertise on the keyword “virus protector” for dirt cheap – and reach hot prospects that everyone else overlooks. Not long after that, my grandparents asked me where to find a “virus jammer.” This makes a bit more sense than “virus protector”, but I would never think to call an anti-virus program that. Nevertheless, that was the term in his mind. A Google ad with “virus jammer” in the headline would instantly capture his attention and earn his click.
The key to digging up these treasures is to discuss your products with those outside your own field. Only by learning how the common man sees your products can you truly reach the masses.

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