How little is too little? Striking the balance when it comes to using jargon
This is one of the videos I was shown to prove the point:
A lot of the time, the buzz words and phrases we tend to regurgitate are used because they’re familiar and ‘safe’ – they prove that we know what we’re talking about and they make us feel more credible. They’re easy.
Just try to write a press release or email explaining what your company offers and why that’s great for business and you’ll quickly see how much you rely on jargon.
One of my favourite mentors used to use the eight-year-old test: if an eight year old can’t understand it, it’s too complicated.
For example, “The device’s capacitive touchscreen makes tasks like mobile transacting speedy and efficient,” becomes “The phone is designed to make things easy, even more complicated things like shopping online.”
It’s not just about the type of language you use, but it’s also about how you use it. It’s much easier to write long rambling sentences than it is to keep them short and to the point. And the more senior people are, the more they seem to like rambling on and on before getting to the point!
There is such a thing as too little
In B2B marketing, and in the technology sector specifically, a little bit of jargon is often not such a terrible thing – but it must be used sparingly and wisely.
The truth is that there are some concepts that just are ‘jargonny’. No matter how hard you try to rephrase them they just come across as patronising, or worse – make you look stupid.
Using the language that your customers use shows that you know their industry, and finding fresh ways of expressing some of those concepts shows that you REALLY know the industry.
The key is to strike the right balance – to avoid jargon as much as possible, but when you have to use it, then do. Just make sure that you (or your PR or marketing agency) truly understand each concept before you settle for using jargon.
One of the things I hate the most is seeing jargon used to disguise a lack of understanding about a topic. It’s really obvious, and it usually happens when the writer has not had a good enough brief or is too afraid to ask questions.
When it comes to promoting and selling technology to businesses, a solid understanding of the technology and what it does is vital – otherwise you end up with the same boring old marketing messages that all your competitors have.