Watch your words: Keep jargon out of marketing

In a recent post at All Things Workplace, Steve Roesler shared a personal experience where jargon-filled communication ruined a business deal.

Roesler was screening two software vendors with demos build with only screen shots and the voices of those involved. He immediately cut one vendor out of the transaction, not because of the software functionality, because of how the vendor presented the product.

He appropriately refers to the vendors as “recommended” and “vendor we nuked.” Here’s how the pitch went down:

Recommended: “Tell me more about what you want to do with it so I can give you an accurate answer.” We did. Then we heard (and saw), “Here’s how you would do that. (Demo). What are some other potential reports you might generate?” We described them, he demonstrated how to do it, we watched, and the conversation continued.

Vendor We Nuked: (In a very deep, officious, voice): “Our platform offers configurable functionality. The back-end capability is state-of-the-art and clients have access to data entry. Of course, it is also designed for maximum security so you never have to be concerned that those without the proper passwords can ever access the information.”

By the time he was finished I expected to hear, “For English, press 2.”

I’m sure that Nuke-boy thought he was impressing us. Actually, he depressed us to the point of boredom. His software could probably do the job. The client didn’t want to have a long-term relationship trying to communicate with someone who responded in buzzwords and platitudes. He wanted someone who would work with him to build a system that could be operated and tweaked by anyone.

It’s easy to slip into jargon-filled talk when explaining your products and services. The problem with using terms that are only understood within your business is that only people within your business understand what your talking about and you confuse customers in the process.

Customers are looking to you to fix their problem and lead them in the right direction. Unless you’re dealing with another professional in your industry, jargon will only work to alienate and irritate your customers.

Today’s Lesson: Speak the customers’ language and avoid jargon in marketing.


2 responses to “Watch your words: Keep jargon out of marketing

  1. Yeah, jargon can really kill a sale. Seems like jargon has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. If it ain’t “new and improved”, then it must be crap.

    David Meerman Scott has some great things to say about the use of jargon and what it can do to your marketing, sales, and company. If you haven’t already, check out his blog at:

  2. Pingback: B2B marketing in a bad economy, looking for a quick fix? « Training Marketer

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