The Secret Power of Plain Speak in Marketing

Plain Speak in Marketing
We’ve all been there, in countless ideation meetings. Someone takes the floor and proceeds to spout high-level jargon for 20 minutes, without ever really getting to a point. Did they mean to bore you to tears? Probably not. Does it demonstrate deep understanding of marketing concepts and trends? Maybe. Does it successfully cause the room to glaze over and tune out? Almost always.

There’s a reason phrases like “pivot,” “game changer” and “lean in” show up in thousands of hilarious memes. We love poking fun at the absurdities of professional life, even when it means poking fun at ourselves. But even those who are in on the joke feel pressure to warp our tone and vocabulary to sound more informed.

It’s understandable. Most of us learned marketing-speak in college and went on to see it reinforced by leadership as we moved through corporate America. But imagine for a moment how much simpler work-life could be if we all spoke plainly.

1. It’s quicker.

A bit of simple math: Fewer words = faster route to the point. The truth is, people don’t generally love meetings in the first place. Meetings take up precious time that could be spent doing actual work. And no one wants to feel like they’ve walked into a conversation that’s a million miles over their head. What they want is to understand the challenge as quickly as possible so they can get to work fixing it. As marketers, it’s our job to bring everyone up to speed, with emphasis on the speed part.

2. It’s clearer.

If you’ve spent time in a sales pitch, you know that every minute counts. Why waste it on complex verbiage, overly broad concepts, and acronyms that may or may not mean anything to your audience?

Instead of telling someone how you’re going to “invest time out of the box, closely analyzing best industry standards and practices and identifying the value propositions of your foremost competitors,” try this: “Here’s what you’re top three competitors are doing better than you, and this is how we’re going to beat them at their own game.”

The result? You’ve just summed up the very problem that’s keeping your client awake at night. Now they have a solid vision for how you’ll make that problem go away.

3. It’s endearing.

Relatability (more fun with buzzwords!) is everything in digital marketing. You know as well as anyone else scrolling Instagram, if a message fails to immediately resonate, people can and will keep right on scrolling. The same is true for the message you put forth to stakeholders.

Because regardless of what they do for work, what humans really crave is authenticity. This is especially true for clients who don’t know all the intricate ins and outs of our business. They don’t need to know it. That’s why they’re hiring you. Your best bet when approaching any new relationship is to save the jargon for the panel discussion and focus on connecting with people in a meaningful, conversational way.

4. It’s natural.

This is the best argument by far for plain speaking in business. It’s great because all you have to do is be yourself. A rule of thumb: Talk to business contacts the same way you would a loved one. This starts with acknowledging their feelings and concerns, but it doesn’t end there. You must stay in the conversation and gauge their reactions as you offer advice for fixing the issue.

Even if you’re writing about a complex idea, it’s unnecessary and counterproductive to use complex language. In fact, the opposite is true. The simpler your message, the more effective it will be. The goal is not to bring the audience inside your head, but rather, to bring your ideas into the bright light of day where they can be digested clearly and quickly.

5. It’s differentiating.

The overarching goal of all these communication tactics is simple. You want people to remember how it felt to talk with you. You want them to walk away with a clear picture of their problem and a clear outline for solving it. That feeling of confidence will remain top of mind as they peruse their options.

But more than that, you want your conversations to be punctuated by relatability—and even a few laugh-out-loud moments, if you’re lucky. Because one marketing adage will remain true for all time: People have a lot of options for spending their money, and at the end of the day, they want to spend it with someone they actually like.

Need help creating simple content for human audiences? Hit us up!