Jargon can sometimes be a good thing depending on the industry. Using words such as migration and converged are common understandable phrases within say the Datacenter industry but used elsewhere can seem a little pretentious. Imagine suggesting to a potential customer that they should migrate from drinking at Starbucks everyday to your coffee place – pretentious. How about offering a customer your converged solution of combining egg and flour to make batter – pretentious and a little odd. However used in the correct context, they are important words to relate with customers from the datacenter industry.

Having said that, the B2B world is still rife with business jargon – particularly within the insurance and legal sectors whose traditional tactic is to confuse the heck out of clients before producing a very hefty bill after their work is complete.

When Jargon Works

Using industry specific jargon appropriately can show confidence in your handling of the subject matter – and encourages confidence among a professional audience that you know what you’re talking about. For customers, reading good B2B copy should feel like having a conversation with one of their peers.

Used too little – jargon can sometimes come across as oversimplifying very complex things to the point where you’re not making any sense. But used too much, readers will question whether you really understand what you’re writing about or if you’re just simply ticking off a checklist of common buzzwords in order to show you’re in their club (just so you know, you’re not!)

Know your audience

If you know what jargon your audience uses, you’ll know if you’re talking to them in the right language. You’ll soon understand when it’s too little, and when it’s too much.

  • LinkedIn Group discussions can provide a great insight into how people in your audience talk to each other. How do they speak to peers, suppliers and customers?
  • Industry publications can also provide a good view of what jargon is commonly used within your customer’s industry
  • Google keyword research will show you if anyone’s actually using your jargon words as search terms
  • Best idea of all is to talk to them! As a marketer, you should grab any chance you can to speak directly with your target audience. If you don’t tend to  go to the sorts of parties attended by auditors (who does?), 20 minutes on the phone talking about their challenges and how they solve them will give you some incredibly useful insights that will help make your copy far more compelling.

Use a tool

Using Word’s Readibility checker can help identify how readable your content really is. If your copy scores below 30 on Reading Ease you should edit. Aiming for 60 is better. Here are three things that will help you immediately:

  1. Use a thesaurus and replace complex words with smaller ones
  2. Avoid overuse of jargon
  3. Write shorter sentences
  4. Bonus: Avoid passive voice (more on this later!)

Ensure your writing is clear, concise and a delight to read in order to engage readers to understand the message you’re trying to get across. Customers and prospects should never feel stupid when they read your copy but on the other hand, using industry-specific jargon appropriately can also help make your business look more credible. Make sure you get the balance right!