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B2B Growth Marketing

To Jargon or Not to Jargon?

  • September 28 2016
  • Galen Dow
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How many of you have seen the occasional call to arms to "Stop the Jargon!". This is understandable. It's easy to feel slighted, excluded or otherwise bad when people around you are seemingly speaking a foreign language and you are sitting there getting all glassy eyed. We often get the question when we are talking branding, should we stick with B2B jargon, or heed the cry to speak in plain english?

The answer lies in having a solid Persona foundation for your marketing and sales.

Here's what we mean by that:

Let's say that you are marketing a very expensive business intelligence (BI) solution to global financial services companies. If you have true strategic value, then you are trying to engage in conversation with the denizens of the local Mount Olympus, which might include CEO's, CIO's and the like.

You might think about a few of your key persona's as CEO Joe and CIO Cliff. Let's empathize with their pain, professional and personal aspirations, fears, a day in the life and other things that are important to THEM for a moment. CIO Cliff is responsible for a mission-critical OLTP data center infrastructure (jargon). His career lives and dies by whether the swipe for your gas and coffee purchase works, every single time, without fail, ever. His job is to prevent your meltdown when your swipe doesn't work. When's the last time your swipe didn't work? Because these people know what the hell they are doing.

He has more on his plate than any human being should. He is stressed out just keeping the lights on and maybe has not a whole lot of time to spend with you, at all, unless you have something really new and super interesting or that might, just might, give him his nights and weekends back. In his world, jargon does two things. First of all, every single clock cycle counts (jargon). Jargon evolves because it's efficient for people whose time is precious. You can say OLTP a bunch of times a lot faster than Online Transaction Processing. Go ahead, say OLTP three times. Then say Online Transaction Processing three times. Multiply the time difference times the number of heads in an IT department, times the number of times that certain things get said over and over times whatever all of these people get paid to make sure that you get your day started off on the right foot. Do the math, jargon exists because it makes economic sense over the long run.

More importantly for you as a B2B driver of revenue, is the fact that Jargon is like the secret handshake. CIO Cliff has no time at all to waste on someone who clearly has no idea what they are talking about. If you aren't IT native enough to know the jargon, and you don't respect him enough not to waste his precious time, why should he give you the time of day? Most importantly for him, if his language is foreign to you, then you are getting nowhere near his IT infrastructure, whether or not the security is in-silicon, RISC or Intel open architecture or whatever else you think he should care about that day. . No way, no how, aint' gonna happen. Imagine your coffee meltdown times a few hundred thousand or even a million voices screaming in vain for their GMCR Hazelnut with just the right amount of half and half.

Fired. Career ruined. Scapegoated if necessary, but history.

You often have to speak your persona's language to get on first base. Jargon can be that important.

Now let's take a look at CEO Joe. Milliseconds count in his world as well, but perhaps for a different reason. His company may gain or lose millions of dollars in a millisecond of delay. No more than today has the phrase 'time is money' been more spot on. The value of information for financial services companies decreases in fractions of a second, much less days or weeks or months. Joe needs to understand how your solution can create value by bringing his team 'actionable information in real time'. He might read, "you guys can learn important things that might make you more money and you can have them faster and that can make a huge difference in deciding what your next step should be", but more likely he wants to hear something like 'actionable information in real time' and then get to whatever makes you different.

He also is going to probably hand off investigating whatever the stuff is that you are trying to get them to understand the incredible value of to Analyst MBA Angie to report back. She might want to hear 'ad-hoc queries that used to take days or weeks can now take minutes or hours'.

Right? The complex B2B sale requires the knowledge of a lot of roles, and the personification of these roles to get it right for each person in the buying journey. Sometimes jargon is a hindrance, but sometimes it's essential. That's why despite calls to obliterate it, it still remains.

Never before has Smart Content become more important.  Thinking about your marketing and sales through the eyes of your personas is like taking foggy glasses off. It answers so many questions, like, what language should we use in our communications?

One day we'll have a universal translator built into our iPhones and maybe this won't matter anymore. I personally would like one that translates everything into Irish, but then again, I'm a Mike Myers fan. In the meantime, while jargon meters are fun to play with, and we all want to foment a revolution now and then, Persona-based marketing strategies help you to steer clear of advice that may not make sense for your business goals.

It all starts with understanding the value of Inbound Marketing, and in this case, solid Persona development as your B2B marketing foundation.


Thanks for dropping by, I hope to see you again! Drop a note and let's discuss more.