Much of business is about the intake and communication of information for a desired result – a sale, a deliverable or an opportunity. In consulting with companies or speaking to audiences, using industry words helps to drive connection quickly. Terminology that is common helps to cut through the ambiguity of concepts and meaning which may not connect otherwise.
Terminology Has Marketing Dollars Behind It
If I use the term “people database” to describe a system I would like to implement with your team, I would have to explain it further. It may be concrete in description, but the meaning has to be unpackaged.
The term “CRM” and “Customer Relationship Management” has had millions of dollars of marketing invested in it over the last ten years. Using these terms create a shorthand and a connection within a conversation. Of course, it can be misused, as with any word, or cheapened by a lack of substantive explanation by a novice. However, the value of the shorthand helps to drive credibility and understanding. The market understands that there is strategy, a system and process behind the term. The education has been done.
Take another term like “marketing automation” which is ramping up and likey another 3 years away from common understanding. Using the term in a conversation with prospective customers invites an education process which may or may not be desirable. The millions of dollars and points of reference have not occurred yet. It is happening, and as the terminology takes further hold in our business vocabulary, the value in the shorthand helps to drive meaning and clarity quickly. It is an expensive process.
If you start to use your own terminology to describe something such as “connection marketing” (a fictitious term) then you may be left with a blank stare, disinterest or mistrust. It does not have established meaning and you will have to pay the large bill of educating the market and create meaning which someone buys into.
Creating Clarity Not Ambiguity
Jargon may be cheaply used or strategically applied. The goal of driving alignment with your customers should revolve around clarity on both sides. Using terminology that is established can serve to get everyone on the same page quickly and build trust.
My approach is to ensure that what is heard is clear. Thus, I test for understanding by asking customers to tell me what they heard. This allows me to calibrate on the use of terminology for its effectiveness or lack thereof. If it does not connect, I dismiss it and move towards more concrete terms.
The words you use should build trust. Buzz words in and of themselves are tempting to use for posing with expertise. I would not advise this. You get found out quickly. If you know your stuff, then the substance behind the words you use will shine through with your mastery of content and communication that reinforces the terms you put forth.
I welcome your comments and experiences below.