How to Speak Your Customers’ Language

Written by | @stickybranding

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Speaking in the language of your customers will accelerate your sales and make your brand more engaging.

It’s that simple. Cut out the fancy words. Stop trying to develop creative ways to describe your value proposition. Just describe what your company is, what it does, and who it serves simply, succinctly, and in your customers’ language.

Nothing will accelerate your brand more than speaking with clarity.

You’re Not Starbucks

Starbucks is a world renowned brand with a language unto itself.

Walk into any Starbucks and you will hear customers saying things like “tall Pike,” “venti half-caf vanilla latte,” “iced caramel macchiato,” and it goes on and on.

Starbucks is a big brand, and over the course of thirty years they have trained consumers to understand a whole new language.

Developing a new language for your brand might sound like an exciting opportunity to differentiate your company. But the downsides of using unique ways to describe your products and services are incredibly high:

  1. When a customer doesn’t understand, they don’t buy.
  2. It takes a long time to educate your clients on a new language.

These two challenges are exacerbated if your business operates in a competitive marketplace. If you slow down the customer, or worse yet confuse them, you risk losing them to competitors who speak clearly.

Three Steps to Learn Your Customers’ Language

To speak the language of your customers you’ve got to learn it and master it.

1. Listen

Your customers may not be an expert in your business, but they’re an expert in their own.

Every industry has its own lingo. Your customers approach problems from their perspective and experience. They have a way of talking about their business, their clients, and their services.

Take the time to understand the language your customers use and adapt it to your business.

  • How do your customers describe your products and services? What words and phrases do they naturally use?
  • How do your customers refer to your competitors?
  • How do your customers describe their products, services, and approach to business?

A fast and effective way to gain these insights is to interview your customers. Get inquisitive about their business. Find out how they approach problems. Ask them to describe how they deliver value. Ask questions and listen.

As you listen take note of the words, phrases, examples, metaphors, and stories they share. This is their language. Adapt it into your own.

2. Interact

You can’t learn a new language if you don’t use it.

I studied French through middle school and high school. I can conjugate vowels, but I can’t speak a word of French. I didn’t use it.

Immerse yourself in your customers’ environments. Interact with them in their terms. The more you “talk shop” with your clients the better you will become at speaking their language.

Every marketer should get in front of their customers too. It’s a best practice for marketers to ride along on sales calls and get in front of customers monthly. Great ideas are found in the field, not the boardroom.

3. Feedback Loops

Build feedback loops into your marketing.

For example, I use Win/Loss Cards™ to test my brand messaging. These are simple surveys used by sales reps and marketers to test how a message works in real time. Following a client meeting they fill out a survey on what worked, what didn’t work, and other qualitative details.

The Win/Loss Cards™ help me understand if a message is working or not, and where to refine it.

There are lots of other ways to gather customer insights. Pizza Nova, for example, has an outbound call center that calls new customers the next night. They want to know how they performed, and the calls help to reinforce the brand.

Feedback loops build upon the listening tools used when you’re delivering your marketing. Stay vigilant and keep asking, “Are we communicating clearly? Are we speaking in the language of our customers?”

Communication Is Deliberate

Communicating powerfully is deliberate. It takes work to refine your messaging and speak with authority.

But there’s always a beacon of where to go — your customers. Listen to your customers. They’ll teach you how to speak their language.