B-to-B marketers are faced with communicating complex manufacturing processes and technical details within their content marketing efforts, and oftentimes, avoiding company- and industry-specific jargon is yet another hurdle to clear. According to “B2B Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends,” a study conducted by the Cleveland-based Content Marketing Institute, the No. 1 goal for B-to-B marketers in 2015 is to create more engaging content. But if your messaging is thwarted by a clunky, prolific use of jargon, it can affect customer perception and, ultimately, harm sales, experts say.
“People are so up to their eyeballs in [content] that is not relevant to them that the second you start [using jargon], they’ve already decided you’re going to be one more piece of noise in their already-crazy lives,” says Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder of Keeping It Human, a marketing communications consultancy in San Jose, Calif. “That's how people feel when they’re on the receiving end of a constant barrage of jargon. It just alienates your audience.”
Businesses use jargon when they want to sound smart or authoritative, according to Marcus Sheridan, founder of Warsaw, Va.-based marketing consultancy The Sales Lion. What B-to-B marketers need to understand is that using jargon can actually do the opposite: Writing that’s riddled with industry buzzwords and insider lingo makes customers question whether the company actually has their needs at heart. “If the trust doesn’t occur, the sale doesn’t occur, either,” Sheridan says.
According to Klotz-Guest, jargon-heavy writing can be a crutch when companies haven’t clearly identified what sets them apart from the competition. “When you've got a solid message, you don’t need to hide behind jargon.” Company leaders and marketers need to identify what makes the business unique before they will be able to simplify their content, she adds.
“Disruptive” is a B-to-B buzzword that often is overused, but the answer isn’t to replace the word, but instead, back it up with a story, Klotz-Guest says. “If it’s disruptive, how? Prove it. … All too often, the problem with jargon is that we claim it and we use it, but [your customers] want to know how and why.”
The deadliest kind of jargon consists of terms that are internal to your organization—such as product nicknames or internal processes—because they’re meaningless to your customer, says Lee Price, senior director of marketing strategy for Baton Rogue-, La.-based B-to-B content marketing firm Reputation Capital.
According to Price, marketers should avoid words that are unnecessarily capitalized, and ask a junior staff member to help edit content since those with less experience will be less inclined to use or understand jargon. “That might sound counterintuitive, but … someone who has been in the industry for fewer years has a much more open perspective. ... They can help you identify places where language is confusing.”
Jargon-free content marketing is key to communicating with customers, and a powerful part of generating B-to-B sales, Sheridan says. “The magic in marketing these days happens with the simple campaigns, not the incredibly complex ones.”
This article originally appeared on the AMA International Headquarters website and was written by contributor Julie Davis.