Is Plain English Dying in the Workplace?

June 30th 2016       Sally Ormond       communicating with customers, copywriting, plain English, sales and marketing jargon, simple language

plain english

 

This is something I come across more and more when I meet clients.

During meetings, the initial plain English is replaced by an incomprehensible babble of nonsensical words and phrases that meld to create a language that only a few seem to understand.

Usually I am the only person who has to interrupt and ask for clarification. Does everyone else really understand what’s being said? Probably not, but once in that ‘marketing’ or ‘sales’ bubble no one wants to lose face and admit they have no idea what’s being talked about.

I was reading a blog on Business2Community today that talks about this and how Sales and Marketing departments should help each other understand the language of the other, giving the below as an example of the terminology each uses:

sales and marketing terms

I bet you recognise a fair few of those, and probably use a lot of them too.

In their blog they say that this type of language shouldn’t be done away with because they believe there’s ‘value in creating a lexicon that’s widely understood and used within a group’.

I have an issue with that.

Granted, most industries will have words and terminology that’s unique to them. The problem is I’ve yet to see a company that can put aside this ‘inside speak’ and communicate in plain English with its customers.

Because this jargon is used everyday, it becomes engrained and as such the speakers become blinkered and believe that everyone speaks the same way they do. Or, which is more worrying, they simply don’t care that their audience doesn’t understand them.

They merrily fill their emails, web copy and brochures with incomprehensible industry babble that simply confuses.

Does it impress?

No.

It just shows the company as one that’s not interested in helping its customers. If they did want to help they would write in a way that is easy to understand without hiding behind jargon.

The blog finished with this quote from Tony Robbins:

“To effectively communicate, we must realise that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”

Is it just me or does that backup what I’ve just said?

If you want to get your message out to your customers clearly, you must understand that they don’t have access to your knowledge and they won’t speak in the same way as you. All they want is a simple message that shows them how you’re going to make their life better.

So forget your marketing or sales mumbo-jumbo and convey your message in simple plain English that everyone can understand.

It won’t result in a ‘dumbing down’ of your message; it will enhance it and show that you really do care about your customers.

So, to sum up:

  • Keep the jargon for the office and not your marketing materials
  • Always communicate with your customers in plain English
  • Using jargon will not make you sound impressive
  • If you communicate clearly and simply your customers will love you

 

 

Tags: communicating with customers, copywriting, plain English, sales and marketing jargon, simple language
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