I’m sure many people in the industry can relate to this: sitting in a meeting, nodding along implicitly to a self-styled ‘marketing guru’ who’s advising that the project needs to ‘taken offline’ while we assemble an emergency ‘tiger team’ to ascertain on how best to ‘leverage’ the ‘shifting paradigm’. Then you rush out of the meeting, after agreeing to ‘touch base’, in a mad panic to Google these impressive sounding terms to find out what the conclusion of the meeting actually was.
How much clearer would it have been if it had just been said that we need to consult with industry experts to get a better idea on how we can positively affect this new change before we take any drastic action?
Surely the objective of any business meeting is to make sure that everyone is aware of any potential issues and the best solutions in the most succinct and clear way possible?
And as they say, time is money.
That time spent Googling after the meeting could be better spent on addressing any subsequent actions. Those questions and answers that now need to be emailed back and forth could’ve been asked in the meeting, if only you’d have known what was actually going on!
I’m sure this isn’t something that happens exclusively in marketing but, as experts in the field of communications, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Overuse of jargon can lead to a client doubting your credibility, suggesting your reliance on jargon merely masks a lack of knowledge and expertise. The more sceptical and discerning clients may even believe that you’re using these so called buzzwords to suggest unnecessary complexity as a means to justify costs.
Any agency worth their retainer knows that an informed client is a good client, but when bombarded with potentially unintelligible agency spiel, how does a client know that you understand their needs, let alone that you can meet them?
When working to such tight deadlines, focus and efficiency is key.
The best way we can help clients help us, (forgive the Jerry Maguire reference) is by presenting the information in the clearest, most digestible manner possible. After all, a clear brief demands clear language, from both agency and client.
Now I’m not saying that using some jargon isn’t acceptable, or necessary even, but just be aware that not everybody has ‘drunk the agency Kool-Aid’. There are some terms and buzzwords that are readily used in everyday agency life that may alienate clients and customers.
Some of these buzzwords have become tired clichés and may actually work to your detriment. I mean, offering ‘innovative solutions’ is hardly innovative anymore is it?
So here are some things to take into consideration before you turn into some sort of Don Draper ‘Fanbassador’ at your next meeting or presentation:
- Don’t over-complicate things
Be succinct, clear, honest and precise.
- Don’t assume others understand you.
Clear communication doesn’t rely on language that’s not understood by everyone in the room. Your audience shouldn’t need to be ‘in the loop’ to be able to follow you.
- Know your audience.
If you’re talking to a client-side marketing team, then using business terms and language is appropriate. However, if you’ve brought a developer to the meeting to talk about the specifications of the new Magento project you’re working on, make sure all stakeholders have understood the technicalities.
The next time you’re tempted use jargon to dramatic and mystifying effect, remember that making clients and consumers feel stupid is never a good marketing strategy. By replacing buzzwords and tired clichés with clear language, you can show that you’re more interested in communicating with clients than trying to impress them.