Say What You Mean – Mean What You Say

I just read an interesting article by Dan Pollatta in the Harvard Business Review, with the clever title I Don’t Understand What Anyone Is Saying Anymore.  The premise of the article is that business people speak with so much gobbledygook and industry jargon – it is hard to understand what they are talking about.

The topic of communication is important to us at Fusion Marketing Partners because we have to either create compelling messages for our clients or coach them on how to do so.  And whether or not a message is “compelling” should always judged by how prospects receive it, not how someone at your company writes it.  We always tell our clients that it is their obligation to present their message in a clear and comprehensible manner, and not the prospect’s obligation to figure out what in the heck you are talking about.

To state this in a different way, clarity is always the responsibility of the communicator, not the one being communicated with.  I once had a copywriter tell me that “if the prospects are too dumb to understand the way I wrote the message, that’s their problem, not mine.”  This is an attitude that caused unemployment for that particular writer but is sadly, all too common in B2B marketing.  Yes it is true that some prospects are not as smart as we are, but amazingly, some of them are even smarter. But it is our mission to communicate in a way that is understandable to all (or most) of them.

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The purpose of good marketing is to first attract, then educate, and then persuade the prospect that he or she needs to take advantage of your offer. And while being too cute, too clever, or pretending to be something you are not may appear to be enticing, it is important that you portray yourself accurately.   Buyers, both B2C and B2B, can spot dishonesty a mile away.  They want to be told exactly what you can do for them and how they will benefit. The hyperbole, industry jargon and confusing language are counterproductive.

Like the title of this blog post states – say what you mean and mean what you say.  And for good measure, don’t say it mean.

Happy New Year

Christopher Ryan
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