Betrayed by your own words
The words we use to talk about ourselves are powerful. They can tell a story about you and your brand, they can seduce, persuade and ensnare, and they can build relationships, grow your audience, and lend you credibility. Every aspect of your business can be improved by carefully selected words.
However, for all the good they can do, they can also trip you up when chosen poorly.
You say one thing, but do another
If your website positions you as a human, person–centric brand yet you talk like a robot, it’s going to come back to bite you. Our websites are great mediums to tell the world the kind of business we are in and how we set our selves apart from the competition. With proper thought and research, we can capture what makes us special and develop a message that will resonate with our target market. But once that message is set, we have to follow through.
We operate in a crowded marketplace and potential clients are increasingly adept at sniffing out disingenuous branding. If we’re positioning ourselves as a human brand, all of our communications, both internal and external, and our working processes need to follow suit. It’s no good positioning yourself as down to earth then acting decidedly unhuman. You should be…
- Talking conversationally, using lots of contractions and keeping the dreaded jargon to a minimum.
- Treating your clients and your audience like humans rather than price marks.
- Adding value, both through your service/product and through your online content
Let’s take a concrete example. If you’re a residential developer that wants to be approachable and down to earth, you should talk about homes, not about units and products. One term encompasses that your developments will be where people live, sleep, eat and love with their families, the other takes away the human and replaces it with a commodified version of what you’re building.
Simple words, carefully selected
One of the traps many businesses fall into is the desire to use complicated, fancy–sounding words to describe themselves. How many times have you come across businesses that use grandiose statements that don’t tell you anything? Talk of rapid scalability, quantifiable metrics, and all manner of fancy ‘solutions’. Pretty words, but they’re not common parlance. You might think you appear clever or intellectual, but the opposite is true. The problem is that you’re less likely to be understood, which in turn means you’re less likely to convert your reader into a client.
Whenever you write any form of copy or content, you should remember that the average reading age of an adult in the UK is 9 years old. Fancy words are all well and good, but if your audience doesn’t know what you’re talking about, what’s the point?
So keep it simple. Call a restaurant a restaurant and not a vendor of dining solutions. Call a window cleaner a window cleaner and not an aperture polisher. Call an ad agency an ad agency and not a collective of creatives working at the intersection of aesthetic beauty and poetic resonance.
Catch my drift?
The Dunning Kruger effect
In a time where conspiracy theories are rife, the Dunning Kruger effect has a found a place in common knowledge. It’s a cognitive bias with two branches:
1) People of low ability tend to have an inflated view of their capability and competence and are unaware of their incompetence.
2) People of high ability or knowledge tend to overestimate the ability or knowledge of others.
When it comes to keeping things simple, we should bear the second point in mind. We might be specialists in our given areas, but our clients aren’t. With that in mind, we have to couch all of our communications in terms our customers can understand. Just because we’re au fait with the terms of art of our industry, we shouldn’t expect the world at large to be.
By the way, au fait means having a good or detailed knowledge of something. Maybe I should’ve just said that instead?
If you’re looking for someone to help you find the right words for your business, drop Luma a line. We’re ready and waiting to fire up the word processor.
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