Friday, October 31, 2008

Plain Talk vs. My Talk

Describing what we do with words that others can comprehend is not always easy. I call it "plain talk vs. my talk." As a marketer, using terms like channel distribution, double-truck, boilerplate, eye tracking, and psychographics can roll off my tongue as easily as a nursery rhyme. Good I guess if I am talking to another marketer, but bad when I am talking to non-marketers.

I was at a networking breakfast hosted by the wonderful folks of Tatum, LLC last week. Each of us attending were offered a few minutes to introduce ourselves, our companies and describe our ideal client. The room had a good mix of lawyers, accountants, insurance executives, bankers, etc.

Most of what I heard was "my talk"; lawyers talking like lawyers, bankers talking like bankers, insurance exec's talking insurance, and so on. There were a lot of words and phrases that went right over my head, and I'm not too certain I know what many of them are looking for. This happens so often....

To escape the trap of speaking in "my talk" here is one idea that has worked for me: Imagine you are talking to children.

Use small words in short sentences. Accept that your listener has no clue about what you do, is unable to comprehend complex words, and the more you talk the more they become confused. Talk about the end result of your work, not how you do your work. Be a teacher.

Here is a short lesson in "plain talk vs. my talk."

My Talk: Halloween is a Celtic harvest tradition that has evolved over hundreds of years, influenced by Roman rule and religious influence into an annual ritual that involves the giving of gifts, the carving of lanterns, and exemplifying creatures we fear.

Plain Talk: Halloween is a one night blast! We get to dress up any way we want, knock on doors and people will give us candy, go to scary fun parties, and everyone is doing it!

Which Halloween would you want to be a part of? Better yet, how could you talk about what you do in a way that people understand, totally get, and want to join you in doing it?