Mar 18, 2011

Take the Jargon-Free Challenge

Buzzwords and acronyms are like Wonder Bread. They may sound impressive, but they’re nutritionally deficient for your brand.

“We provide an industry-leading solution that delivers a high ROI and low total cost of ownership.” Sounds pretty good, and it might even be true. But there‘s not much substance here. Where’s the Simple Clarity?

Buzzwords, acronyms and jargon are needless weight on your brand. Use them too often, and your brand becomes sluggish and fat.

Buzzwords slow down your audience

What is a SME? A subject matter expert, or a small medium enterprise? Both. It depends on the context.

The challenge with jargon is it requires industry expertise and knowledge. The technology industry is littered with acronyms: IT, CRM, BI, CMS, SEO, SEM, DSL, and the list goes on. Every time you use jargon you are making an assumption about your audience. You’re assuming they know as much as you.

A good portion of your audience may know what you’re talking about, but others won’t. That’s a pretty big gamble. If you talk over the heads of your customers and prospects, then all you’re doing is talking to people with inside knowledge: competitors and industry consultants.

Jargon is hard to avoid

Buzzwords are deceptively easy to use. Google the term ROI, and you will find over 150,000,000 results.

Jargon is like fast food. It’s easier to buy a burger and fries at a drive thru than to go home and make a meal from scratch. But the nutritional value of the fast food meal and the satisfaction it delivers are dramatically lower. Jargon slips into our day-to-day communications, because it offers shortcuts for conveying meaning and elevating points.

ROI is a perfect example of this. It’s a frivolous term. Of course you will provide your customers a return on their investment. Why would they buy your products if you didn’t? ROI is an expectation, not a benefit or value proposition.

Take the Jargon-Free Challenge

It’s challenging to communicate without jargon. Take the Jargon-Free Challenge. For the next 14 days replace every buzzword and acronym with simple language – language that is universal, easy to understand and conveys explicit meaning.

It may take you a few more words, but think about your audience. If you can’t use jargon, you will naturally improve the quality and value of your communications. Your content will become simpler to understand, easier to share and more impactful.

Try the Challenge for 2 weeks, and let us know me know your results. Let us know what you discovered.

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