Speak like a person, not a marketer – If you look up ‘jargon’ in the Oxford Languages dictionary, you will get:
special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand
If you are a technician, speaking to another technician, it’s likely that you will use your technical jargon.
If you are a surgeon, speaking to another surgeon, you might use words like ‘esophagus’ and duodenum’ from the medical jargon to speak about the stomach.
Until here, there is nothing wrong with using jargon among the specialised group you belong to.
However, if you are using jargon with somebody who is not a member of your same profession or group, you might have a problem.
The other person might not understand what you are talking about, what you are trying to say or the service or product you are trying to sell.
In a blog post titled ‘Jargon vs. Lingo’, marketing guru Seth Godin writes:
Jargon is a place to hide, a chance to show off, a way to disconnect
In Digital Marketing, we as marketers often use a lot of jargon. For example:
- To talk about how many clicks your advert received, we use the word ‘CTR’ or ‘Click-Through-Rate’
- To determine whether your website is fast or slow, we talk about page load speed, Core Web Vitals and so forth
- To justify a drop in visibility for your website, we reference a change in the search algorithm
Albert Einstein famously said:
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother
Somebody who is knowledgeable about her area of expertise will also know how to explain it in plain terms to somebody else who is not an expert.
Speak Like a Person, Not Like a Marketer
As a member of the H2H marketing movement, you are called to write and speak like a person, not a marketer:
- Write and speak like a person, like you are having a conversation face-to-face with somebody who is not savvy about your area of expertise
- Use words that are easy to understand in both your website copy and conversations
- Limit the number of acronyms that you use and always explain their meaning
- If you really have to use technical words, consider adding a glossary to your website or presentation
If you want to speak like a person, always use ‘lingo’, never ‘jargon’. Lingo is the language of the group the other person belongs to.
By meeting the other person where she is, you will make her feel included and you will have built a connection. Seth Godin again:
Lingo reminds us how connected we are […] Lingo allows us to feel included