Why you should talk in a language your clients understand

I was with a client in the last few days who have a new business partner.  They were talking in TLAs.

You know, Three Letter Acronyms.

KPI this.  SLA that.  SWOT the other.  Blah, blah, blah.  My client didn’t have a clue what was being said.  They said in a broad Yorkshire accent, “We’re from up North, can thi’ talk proper!”

Then the penny dropped with the partner and they realised that they weren’t being heard.

It’s the same with customers and your marketing.  You have to talk in a language that resonates with them.  Just because you understand you, doesn’t mean that your audience understands you.

When I started my business 13 years ago, I had just left a senior corporate role.  It was all USPs (there’s another one), business cases, key account management (KAM – and another) and synergy et al.  There were 100s of buzzwords and phrases to the point where me and some of my colleagues played buzzword bingo in meetings.  I realised pretty quickly that my new audience (owner managed SMEs) didn’t understand some of what I was saying!  Doh!

When you are marketing, you have to mirror that language that your prospective clients are using.  Listen to the words they say.  If they use proposition, so should you.  If they talk about collaboration, you should also.  If they use customer, don’t use client.  You get the picture.

I had to change.  And quickly.

Don’t assume that you are hitting the sweet spot.  If you don’t, your message won’t land.

I often get messages on LinkedIn saying “It’s like you are in my front room talking to me!”  It’s taken a while and needs constant tweaks.




Make sure the language that you use on your website, social media posts, email campaigns (if you’re still reading, hopefully I’m on point!), presentations and when 1-2-1 are fully understandable and jargon free for your potential customers.  They want to know that you understand them and they want to understand you.

In a world where your potential clients are seeing 400+ marketing messages per day, it your messaging doesn’t connect, the opportunity has gone as quickly as their thumb scrolls past your post.

For a laugh, here’s a link to some business acronyms – see how many you have used.  https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/business-acronyms