You Speaking Your Customers’ Language?
“Scott, we’ve got observes on 4 mesial, 14 distal, 29 and 30 interproximal.”
This is how many of my trips to the dentist go. I can sort of piece together what they’re saying. I gather the news isn’t that good.
But on the specifics? Sketchy at best.
Of course, my dentist is probably trying to hide the truth from me until the end. After he’s all done, he’ll give me the recap in terms I can understand.
That said, for most businesses, potential customers probably aren’t stuck with you for an hour. You don’t have time to work your way around to the pitch.
If you don’t tell them what they want to hear, right from the beginning, they’re gonna bail on you.
You’ve got to make your pitch clearly, right away, in terms your potential customers not only understand, but also relate to emotionally.
In short, you need to speak your customers’ language.
Do you? Let’s find out.
What Words Do
We’ll start with something really basic:
Say you’re a clothing retailer based in the United States, and you’ve just expanded into the UK market. Right away, you notice that pant sales are lagging way behind your other categories.
Well, in the UK, “pants” generally means, well, underwear. The word you really needed to use was “trousers.” You didn’t use the right search term that your customers were using, so they didn’t find you.
(And the ones who did find you were looking for something different altogether!)
Understanding how people describe products or services—including the specific words that they use—will help you better target your SEO keywords to your target audience.
To that end, you can use keyword research tools from Google, Moz, and others to figure out which keywords get the most search traffic, how effective they are, and how difficult it might be for your website to land on the all-important front page of the search results. Then, you can prioritize accordingly.
Another Common Obstacle To Communication? Lingo.
Say you’re offering a highly technical or advanced product or service, to target customers that typically aren’t especially literate or knowledgeable about the field.
Take telecom, for example—business phones, internet, online security, the works. You might offer the best product at the best price, but if you talk about it exclusively in terms your customers don’t know or don’t understand (T1, SD-WAN, managed hosting …) you’re gonna lose most of them.
It’s still important to talk about those things, of course. But discussing them using terms, examples, and analogies that are instantly understandable and accessible to a layperson becomes critically important.
What Is Their Communication Style?
Of course, it’s not enough for a customer to merely understand what you’re saying.
You also need to relate to them on a more personal and emotional level. If you bore them, irritate them, or offend them, the message isn’t going to stick.
In other words, it’s not just about knowing the right search keywords to use. It’s also about knowing how your customers naturally speak and think in a more general sense.
A big part of the equation is tone. For a good example of one kind of approach, check out Melissa & Doug, a company that makes educational toys and crafts for kids.
The website is bright and colorful. They have a great blog that covers all sorts of parenting topics and advice that would be of relevant interest to their target customers—not just pushing their own products. Their “about” and “history” sections are filled with personal details, family photos, and plenty of jokes!
In short, they really understand how to relate to their customers! That really personal, informal, family-focused, and fun-loving approach is just what most young parents want to see and hear.
On the other hand, that kind of tone and style would be highly inappropriate for, say, a legal services firm or bank. There, customers are looking for straight-laced professionalism. If you used a “toy company” tone, customers would probably be irritated and feel you weren’t taking them seriously.
If you’re after young adults, you’ll write differently than you would for seniors. People looking for legal advice or financial services require a very different tone, emotionally, than those just looking for a good time.
If you and your customer aren’t on the same wavelength in terms of the tone, attitude, and language, you aren’t going to connect. It’s that simple.
What Really Matters to Them?
Okay, so you’ve got your SEO keywords squared away. Check.
You’ve also matched the general tone and diction of your copy to the way your target customers speak. Check.
So why does your conversation rate still stink out loud?
There’s a good possibility that you didn’t really put yourself in your customer’s shoes and figure out what actually matters to them. Very likely, you didn’t take the time to fully consider their pain points – which is unfortunate because you provide the means to relieve them!
Remember, what interests and excites you about your business isn’t necessarily the same for your customers.
A lot of small business owners and independent practitioners (doctors, lawyers, etc.) make the mistake of making it all about them, or what they do. Look at all these cool features! Check out my academic credentials!
The truth? Most people don’t care. What they’re really after is a solution.
In other words—it’s not about you. It’s about the customer.
The customer has a problem. Who out there understands what they’re going through and is going to help them fill that need?
We’re not saying features or credentials don’t matter. They do, but they’re not your big selling points. The most effective calls to action take the customer’s perspective and speak about their needs, not yours.
The less you talk about I, we, me, and my—and the more you talk about you, yours, and ours—the better off you’re going to be.
How Do I Know If I’m Speaking
My Customer’s Language?
One way to do this—at least partially—is by sending out surveys to people in your contact database. This is a good way to get quantitative data about customer satisfaction.
You should also consider asking a couple of well chosen open-ended questions, but only if you’re genuinely able to read through and evaluate the responses. (If you’re getting hundreds or even thousands of responses, that might not be realistic.)
Surveys should be short, simple, and clear. Don’t make it an ordeal to complete! Really focus on the most important questions and topics you want to cover.
We also recommend you do some more qualitative research by using in-person interviews with some of your customers.
Obviously, the content of what they say matters. How do they feel about your business or products? What challenges are they facing? What could you do to make your product or services better?
But you should also listen carefully to the way they say it. What specific language and word choices do they use? How do they describe your business? Are there any go-to metaphors or examples they use?
You can then take these questions and responses to begin constructing “buyer personas” of your primary customer demographics.
Get really specific with these personas:
How old are they?
Do they own a home?
How many kids do they have?
What level of education have they attained?
Once you build a profile for “Homebuilder Fred” or “Single Mom Molly” or “DIY Dennis,” you have a really specific idea of the person you’re trying to write for and target.
The more you understand your customer’s language, tone, and thought process, the better able you’ll be to use it in your own messaging and marketing. And that helps you make a more authentic connection with your customers, which ultimately increases conversion and sales.
And that’s what you really want, right? We thought so.
For more great marketing tips, stay tuned to this blog. And if you’d like to explore how working with the CP Solutions team can shift your marketing into overdrive, give us a call at (833) 622-0907 or click “Start a Project” at the upper left of this page.