• Alli Beck

How jargon confuses your potential clients


How jargon confuses your potential clients

Have you ever gotten really excited talking about your business to someone, only to get a blank stare?


We all do it: We speak another language in our own industry. It’s a language not everyone is fluent in.


Jargon only sounds smart to ourselves. To others, it makes their eyes glaze over. It is also a turn off. It feels to the recipient like you are talking above their head.


So in the written words on your website, in your social media captions, in your email content, or in your print materials, make sure you aren’t using jargon that others might not understand immediately.


Here’s how to make sure your potential clients understand what you are trying to say:


1. Don’t use acronyms, even if it is a common one.


I can’t tell you how many times I have paused to try to decipher an acronym. Even when it is something that is widely used, it causes a little catch in my brain. I’m not alone. The use of acronyms is annoying when you are reading something. No one has the patience to crack that code. They want to read and absorb quickly.


2. Edit your writing for industry slang.


Are there phrases or sayings that people in your industry use? Unless you are only writing to people in your specific industry, be careful using those phrases. An inside joke to an outsider always falls flat.


3. Write for the newbies.


Act as if you are writing to someone who has no idea what you do or how you do it. Because, chances are, there will be people like that in your audience. The people who do will skim.


If you write to the lowest level of understanding, then you will capture everyone. (Instead of alienating people who are new to what you offer.)


Often people are afraid to simplify their writing for fear they will look unintelligent. The thing is, even the smartest PHD will skim your writing and want to understand it quickly. Our culture values quick and digestible. We are absorbing so much content that we need to be able to consume it quickly and without too much thought.


4. Have someone outside of your industry read your content.


After you have someone else review it, ask them a few questions:


Do they understand it? Do they get confused anywhere? Is there something that makes them pause, even for a second? Try to reword it to make it even more clear.


It is surprisingly difficult to step outside our industry jargon. I get it. I catch myself using jargon too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking to someone about their website and I mention SEO (search engine optimization) only to have them ask me what that means.


Clarity should be priority number one in all your marketing materials, whether it is your website, social media or brochures. If people don’t understand something quickly, they will divert their attention to something else.


But if you are one of the people in your industry who sets aside your impulse to look smart, you will become much more approachable to those who are interested in benefiting from what you do.


Want to make sure your writing is clear and understandable? Download my copywriting checklist.