When I was a young boy, my paternal grandmother imbued my soul with a great love for words. She had all kinds of descriptive words and expressions – home made idioms – to describe people, places and situations. A writer of books for children and teens, Dorothy Powell loved to study people and their behaviours. Whenever someone perplexed her, she would label him as an “iya-dot”. Every week I visited her, she would greet me with “How’s my sniggle-fritz today?” or “Hello Tykum”.
But her real specialty was in the creation of fantastic new profanities that delighted my evil little six year old soul! Her words had a delightfully fun twist. Words like “gnush” escaped her lips when she cut her finger on some paper. My absolute favorite was “shigimidit” – a word that wasn’t abusive, abrasive or offensive, but that still did the trick of leaving someone feeling confused and mildly insulted.
Every week, grandma would arm me with new words and then launch her eager little grandson like a guided missile back home where I would explode expressively in front of my parents. I zestfully paraded my arsenal of words in front of them with complete impunity. After all, what could they do about it? Looking back, I’m now sure it was payback for grandma. She always said my father was an incredible brat of a child.
So what does this adventure down memory lane have to do with marketing? It’s simply a fun way to make a point about the words we use. They have the power to inform your clients and encourage them to do business with you. They also have the ability to confuse and interfere with the progress you make towards establishing trust with them.
The definition of jargon according to dictionary.com includes: 1: The language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group. Or 2: Unintelligible or meaningless talk or writing; gibberish.
The words my grandmother and I shared had real meaning for the two of us, but they were not meant for anyone outside of our small communion. They were designed to deliberately close out any participation my parents could have in the conversation.
Are you sure your clients understand the words you are using in your marketing? Are they particular to your industry, understood only by others in your profession? Beware of words that are so second nature to you that they just glide off your tongue or reel off your keypad. Review your marketing as though you have no knowledge of your industry. Better, ask some of your newest clients how easy they find it to interpret the message.
Remember, all marketing is communication to your clients. Jargon, even words you think should be easy to grasp, may be acting like stumbling blocks on the road to creating a solid relationship with your future customers.