Monday, August 8, 2011

Marketing Mishaps: Using Tech Speak (or Industry Lingo) with Non-Techies


Marketing Mishaps: Using Tech Speak (or Industry Lingo) with Non-Techies

Sense. You're not making any.
I came across a blog today, the intent of which is probably to help the company build business. The problem is that it's a tech company whose writer(s) does not know how to address a non-techie audience.

This month I promised to tell you how to save money by virtualizing your server(s).
This is one of the most powerful money-saving and environmentally friendly concepts in computing today. And one of the cool things is that you don't sacrifice performance. In fact, in most cases performance is enhanced.
Again, this might be a little technical, but [our company's] techs are always able to help you navigate any issues you might have.


The problem here is that the blogger/company assumes (a) the reader understands enough of the concept of "virtualizing your servers" to know (b) they need to do it and (c) be willing to spend money on this upgrade. Pay particular attention to the text in red. This writer KNOWS the info is technical, but instead of figuring out a way to simplify it, he/she thinks the fact that they have pros on their team is going to get him over that little challenge. WRONG.

Granted, there is more to this post than I am quoting here, but it's full of more techie mumbo-jumbo like "redundant machines," "virtualization platform," "load balancing across diverse hardware," and "host architecture."


Say you run the small to medium-sized business that is looking to enhance its technology performance. Are you going to read this and think, "Yup. That's probably what we need. Let's write a purchase order"? Or are you going to head back to the search engine to find a company that speaks a language you can understand?

Years ago, I remember my friend, master techie Matt Moran, telling me he threatened to fire any of his employees who spoke tech-speak to their clients. His thinking? Their job wasn't to overwhelm the clients with the depth of their computer knowledge; it was to explain the situation to the client in words they could understand and fix the problem. Period.

The thing to remember is that this issue is not exclusive to the technology field. I was in a meeting recently with a printer who was obviously adept at his business but had ZERO ability to translate the conversation into everyday English for my client who was his potential client. She had no idea what full-bleed (printing that goes to the edge of the page) meant, not did she need to. Not in this meeting.

A while back, I did a post about the dangers of being too insider in your industry. Going top-heavy with the insider language is a perfect example of what you don't want to do.

If you're not sure whether your copy is resonating with your clients and PROSPECTIVE clients test it. Have non-insiders read it and give you their honest feedback. If they can describe to you what you meant to say, you know you've succeeded. If they're confused by any of it, it probably needs to be rewritten. Remember, the onus of communication is on the communicator, not the one receiving the information. Don't lose potential clients by talking right past them.

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