A lot of companies use metaphors to describe their products and/or services. They have grand philosophies about their methodologies, the ways they interact with customers, and their commitment to quality and excellence. Blah, blah, blah.
Sometimes, companies get so caught up in selling philosophical mumbo-jumbo that customers can no longer understand what the company is selling. Unclear company messages are especially apparent online (corporate websites, social networking channels, etc.), where written marketing messages need to be communicated as efficiently and clearly as possible.
Readers will only tolerate so much text on a screen, and you have to make the most of whatever time and/or attention when they give you. That doesn’t mean you need to substitute text for video and/or pictures, though they do help. You CAN explain your business in a compelling, concise way.
So how do you translate corporate speak to an audience that may or may not understand the industry? What if customers need your product and/or service but doesn’t necessarily know anything about the thing they need to purchase? How can you gain trust quickly and easily?
Offer them solid footing. Think of a stretch of sidewalk in your town. If the concrete is not yet dry, a person walking in it will sink, mess up their shoes, and probably not be happy about the experience. They may even complain and cause a commotion.
Before you let anyone walk on your sidewalk, make sure the concrete is dry. Be tangible, have texture, and use CONCRETE information to support your claims. Don’t write about the idea of walking. Instead, write about what it feels like to walk on your dry, solid concrete.
Start with very specific examples. Use case studies. Pick things your company has done successfully. Write very specifically about an event or instance. If you want to generalize anecdotal information for the sake of a general company introduction or a Twitter bio, take the piece of writing and strip away the specifics, leaving the stand-out points, the action words. This will ensure that your claims are grounded in reality and still make sense to the customer.
Of course, you are passionate about your company and want to share as much as possible. However, imagine that you have only 30 seconds to tell a potential customer why he or she needs to buy your product/service. The person doesn’t understand English very well so you have to communicate with basic words and concepts. Your life depends on this sale. What would you say?
Keep theoretical or idea words to a minimum. Idea words are good for internal use, excellent for motivating employees, and perfect ideals for executives trying to achieve company goals. The customer doesn’t care about what’s happening “behind the curtain”.
Speak in tangible nouns and verbs, things you can touch rather than things you think or imagine. You want current and potential customers to walk on firm ground, to feel like every step makes so much sense that they’re not even thinking about the ground beneath them.
(Photo by kelp)