Are you speaking a different language to your prospective clients and aren’t even aware of it? |
I traveled to Montreal Quebec recently and even though my stay was brief, it was not without its challenges in the communication department.
In case you’re not familiar with Canada, English is our primary language with French being secondary. This is primarily due to the province of Quebec having a very large French speaking community.
I was never fully aware of just how large this community was until I tried to be a tourist there.
Much to my surprise, everything was in French where we were lucky if we saw English sub-scripts on the signs. Unfortunately my grade 12 French many years ago did not do me so well on this trip and I found myself being quite frustrated at the lack of English in my very own country. Just ask the gas attendant who saw me try to fill up the car while trying to read a screen all in French!
This experience reminded me of how language and communication is so important in our business.
Every entrepreneur and business owner must be able to communicate clearly with their clients and prospective clients or risk losing them to a competitor. Trust me, if my tank wasn’t so low I would have easily driven off to another station that catered to us English-speaking folks!
One way we often don’t realize we are having a negative effect on our followers is through the “industry jargon” that we use on our website, social media and in our blog posts. Industry jargon is using particular words or phrases that are very common in our own industry, but not necessarily what the general public is familiar with. In the web development and online marketing industry, this can happen quite easily where even using the term “Industry jargon” could confuse a reader! Those in our industry know what it means, but does everyone?
Industry Jargon Creates Communication Barriers
I can provide lots of my own examples where it’s easy to talk over other people’s heads using website and marketing industry terminology and acronyms that are second nature to me, but are lost on the receiving end. This is especially true when trying to explain something technical about a website.
But the problem when we fall into that trap of using industry language we’re most familiar with, is the other person is left feeling embarrassed they don’t know what a term means. Often they don’t want to risk looking silly by asking for clarification. Then a disconnect happens where they are not feeling comfortable and will look for the nearest exit. A problem I see often is on a website when the site owner is using industry jargon to communicate what it is they do and how they can help. The big risk here is if the reader doesn’t quite understand what is being said, they are much more apt to hit the back button and find a site they find more familiar.
Using such language on a website does not make you relatable to your target market since many people will not bother to try and figure out what is being communicated. They hold no allegiance to you so are more than willing to move on.
Communicate in a Language Your Audience Can Relate
The best way to ensure you’re not speaking over your ideal clients’ heads is to communicate in a language they understand. Use words and phrases they would commonly use and be familiar with, especially when describing the problems and challenges they are facing where they are looking to you to help solve. So take a critical look at all of your marketing materials, including your website, promotional materials and even your social media posts. Are you using any industry jargon, acronyms or slang terms that are specific to your industry but others might not understand? Now is the time to find out and adjust as needed. During my visit to Montreal, I could give several businesses some advice in this department! Especially where we rented our car – the car’s console display was in French! The attendant ended up spending 30 minutes going through all of the settings and getting the car drivable for a non-French speaking client.
This should never have happened but to those living in Montreal, having everything in French is quite normal to them. But it sure left a poor impression on how they run their business from a client’s perspective!
So always put yourself in your customer’s shoes – is what you are presenting to them something they understand or are you speaking French to them?
Your goal is to be relatable, approachable and non-threatening to their intelligence and you have a much better chance at not losing them to a competitor.
Do you have any experiences similar to mine where you moved on in an effort to find someone that spoke your language?
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