Are You Speaking the Same Language as Your Customers?

Are You Speaking the Same Language as Your Customers

My 4-year-old nephew is a real character. He has developed a quirky sense of humor and he enjoys entertaining the family with his funny quips.

On Friday night, we had a little sleepover at Grammy’s house with my sister, our nephew, and me. When we were trying to figure out what we should have for dinner, we started with a simple question: “What would you like to eat?” His response: “two-tees.”

To us, this sounded like “turkey,” and we kept saying “turkey?” while he kept saying “two-tees,” while laughing hysterically. We knew we didn’t understand what he wanted, so we decided on pizza. Every kid likes pizza, right? (Clever kid—he did manage to clearly tell us that he did NOT want pepperoni.”

After he ate his pizza without pepperoni, he again started talking about “two-tees.” And again, we were perplexed. Finally, he went to the refrigerator and found exactly what he was looking for: cookies. He wanted to make cookies!

This same kind of communication problem troubles many organizations. In their marketing campaigns, they assume that every target prospect “speaks the same language” and a single, blanket promotion is created. But this strategy no longer works.

Your potential customers now expect customized communications, not the standard form letter from 20 years ago. In the high-tech industry, for example, the same product may be purchased by a C-level executive such as a CIO, an IT professional, or a business line manager.

These 3 groups will respond to different types of messages. You wouldn’t necessarily send a highly technical white paper to a business line manager or even a CIO. They don’t speak the same language. You must be prepared to segment your audience and deliver targeted messaging.

The same rule applies when you communicate with your current customers. You can’t respond to a business line question with an answer that only an IT expert will understand.

To start and maintain conversations with your prospects and customers, you need to speak their language. You won’t be able to build the kind of relationships that generate ongoing business if they’re saying they want “two-tees” and you’re giving them “turkey.”