Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mind your language

Working in marketing, and in medical research, we tend to have a whole host of buzz words, jargon and acronyms that are in daily use and easily recognisable within our organisation. In fact that's pretty much true of every organisation I've worked in, no matter what sector.

One of my colleagues mentioned the other day that her granny had received one of our fundraising letters. 'That's our cold pack' she said. To which granny was, of course, nonplussed. Now those of you in marketing will know that 'cold' means an audience with whom you have no previous recorded contact. Whilst 'pack' is just a jargon term for whatever it is that we have dropped through your letter box.

I dare not think about the number of terms I use every day that are marketing-speak, it's quite scary really. The thing is - whether it's cold, warm, cultivation or acquisition, retention or whatever term you like to use - it's people. We are talking to people.

We do not categorise ourselves as cold or warm, we think of ourselves as supporters, or new supporters, or just not at all. Why should we think of ourselves in context to an organisation we have no relationship with? Though marketers need to have some kind of 'bag' to put us in to be able to manage what they(we) do (and because we do behave in certain ways as a group), we mustn't lose sight of the individual. 'Always remember you are unique. Just like everyone else' US scientist Margaret Mead once said.

The point of this little post is not to show off my marketing lingo, or to criticise its use. I just want us to remember that, when we are talking to audiences, we are talking to people. If you want to tell your granny (or anyone for that matter) what you do for a job, don't blind her with jargon, use words that have meaning to everyone. And that counts for your outgoing messaging and external facing communications - I mean letters and emails outside your organisation of course.

So, mind your language.

Photo credit: unknown clipart found on IT sales site
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