In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I want to proclaim my love for the expert use of words. I liken word definitions to a gradient. Synonyms of a word retain the color of the original but vary dramatically in shade. I illustrated this concept based on the age-old question,”What is the true meaning of love?”
If you click through to the larger version, you can see that following synonyms of a word can lead to some surprising definitions. In business and marketing, it is especially important to know exactly what words mean to your audience. Using the perfect words can help us communicate more perfectly.
For example, I was purchasing a gift card last night and was disappointed to see that the gift cards came in specific dollar amounts. I asked the salesperson, “Do you offer gift cards in variable denominations?” I realized I had chosen the wrong words when my question was answered with a blank stare. Trying again, I asked, “Can I get a gift card with any amount I want on it?” “Oh sure,” he replied. There are many ways to say any one thing. The goal of good communication is to find the words best suited to the person hearing or reading them.
What are some ways you could improve communication with your customers? Here are some thought starters:
- Most businesses use jargon and acronyms. When you use them with your customers, do they understand what you mean?
- Email and text messaging are notoriously bad at conveying inflection and context. Do the messages you send carry a double meaning if read differently?
- The best way for your customers to understand you is if you talk like they do. Do you listen for their terms and phrases? Do you use them in communication?
- How often do you listen to your customers? Do you make an effort to understand them?
If you talk to your customers in ways that are meaningful to them, your message will be more successful. Get to know different types of customers, the ways they describe your business, what they expect from the relationship with you and what words that they use. Successful communication will lead to success with your business goals.
(In future articles, I’ll delve into how to develop business goals for your small business. Marketing starts with knowing what results you want.)