If you’ve been spending some time with the team Innovate! (formerly Wild Women), you know you need to blog for your business. Period. It isn’t optional in today’s marketing world.
You also know that sharing valuable information with your prospects helps you create trust and authority. So, you begin your blog, making the assumption that your prospects know all about the nature of your business. Right?
Wrong. Even those who may have purchased your goods or services in the past are busy with their own lives and businesses. Not only do they probably not understand how your industry works, they likely don’t care. What they DO care about is what you can do for them.
Using industry jargon is the kiss of death for your blog. Hear it gasping? Here’s why:
- Industry jargon is hard to read. Make your prospects work too hard to hear your message and they will move on.
- Even if they do understand your industry’s terms, putting them everywhere in your blog (or for that matter, in your website, brochures, articles, etc.) will make them think you are trying too hard to impress them, or worse, that you are arrogant.
- Acronyms qualify as jargon. If you talk to me about the great PU in your shop, I may think you are talking about an offensive odor. Spell it out, or, if you have room – and it is really important – explain it.
- Is the industry term essential to getting your message across? If not, leave it out.
The Definition of Jargon
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines jargon as:
1) Confused, unintelligible language
2) The technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group; or
3) Obscure and often pretentious language marked by circumlocutions and long words.
Most business owners are guilty of #2.
Know Your Audience
Who are you writing to? Let’s say you are an attorney. You have a great niche practice, helping families with their estate planning. You want to write a blog to share some of the latest legal information about estate taxes. So, you draft a paragraph:
“Your Successor Trustee or Implied Conservator can correct Scrivener’s Errors with the assistance of a lawyer well versed in tax provisions under the IRS rules for Designated Beneficiaries.”
Of course, this paragraph is nonsense. But sadly, it represents the way in which many attorneys write. Is it important to cover all legal contingencies? Of course. You can always have a page of ‘definitions’ on your site to assist those who don’t live on ‘Planet Legal’, or just write in plain English and offer a disclaimer that the blog is for educational purposes and they should consult with an actual living, breathing lawyer before they act.
All your audience wants to know is ‘What Can You Do for Me?’ That’s it. We have no idea what the answer to that question is from reading the example paragraph. Here it is in language your reader will comprehend:
“You can appoint someone you trust to oversee your estate after your death to be certain your will is carried out the way you intended and the taxes don’t eat all the proceeds.”
Your reader may think “I didn’t know this. I should consult this attorney to learn how I can protect what I’ve worked so hard to save”.
We don’t mean to pick on lawyers. They offer a valuable service. Most are ethical and hardworking people who truly care about their clients. All industries are guilty of thinking theirs is so important that everyone out there knows (and cares) what they do.
Even our government, which is guilty of the worst examples of jargon and acronyms (just try to make sense of a military document or tax code), has a great website called Plain Language http://www.plainlanguage.gov/howto/guidelines/FederalPLGuidelines/writeNoJargon.cfm in which they offer advice about writing so your audience can understand. Too bad they don’t take their own advice very often.
Need more? Here’s a link to a list of ‘languages’ where jargon explodes. Included are ‘Pentagonese’ (military jargon), ‘Alphabet Soup’ (acronyms abound), and ‘Tech Speak’. Funny read, and great information. http://www.designsensory.com/pws/lesson4/
As defined by Edward Tenner in his book Tech Speak, or How to Talk High Tech: “Tech Speak is a postcolloquial discourse modulation protocol for user status enhancement. It’s a referential system for functional-structural, microscopically specific macroscopic-object redesignation. It’s a universal semantic transformation procedure. It’s a holophrastic technocratic sociolect. It’s a meta-semiotic mode for task specific nomenclature.”
You get the idea. Now go out and write!