Branding / August 17, 2020
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Every industry speaks a common marketing language, and the specialized AEC industry is no different. There are key terms, buzzwords, and technical jargon that are used in marketing communications to explain how a firm works with clients, addresses project challenges, and provides practical solutions. We’ve all heard words and phrases like “best practices,” “cutting-edge technology,” and “innovative approach,” to the point where their use no longer grabs your attention. These days, company descriptions are all too similar, and positioning too muddy, to be truly notable. Consider this question: how much do you use AEC jargon or marketing language in your firm’s communications? If clients don’t speak this language, would they still be able to understand enough to do business with you?
According to Dictionary.com, jargon is defined as “the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group.” However, it is also defined as “language that is characterized by uncommon or pretentious vocabulary and convoluted syntax and is often vague in meaning.” Whew! It’s no wonder that industry jargon can make it challenging to strike a balance with a marketing audience. As you reflect on how your firm positions and presents itself in written copy, consider these pointers:
Use jargon wisely. Let’s face it: as AEC marketers, we are “native speakers” of AEC jargon and understand the language intimately. We expect that our clients speak the same language, but the truth is they are conversant in their own vertical industry’s language and tech-speak. Outside of the AEC industry, would someone reading your website or brochure understand what your firm does? Smart marketing writing doesn’t need to rely on jargon to be effective, but it takes some discipline to minimize jargon and find new and fresh ways to convey messages.
Stack messaging with key takeaways. How does a firm differentiate itself? What do you really want clients to know? Are you trying to communicate the long list of specialized services that your firm offers, or the top-level message that makes your company stand out from the rest? If messaging doesn’t begin with your company’s unique selling proposition, you risk losing the audience’s attention with excess verbiage. Keep your marketing writing sharp and concise to communicate the big-picture points most relevant to the reader.
Write for understanding. There’s a place for technical writing in whitepapers, industry articles, and proposals where the tone and substance need to match the expertise of the audience. For other marketing writing like websites and brochures, messaging should be conversational and accessible to the reader. Press releases should convey the factual who-what-why-when-where of the news and the most important message – who cares? The goal of any marketing writing is to communicate content quickly and effectively and leave a memorable impression that calls the reader to action.
Remember that prospects and readers of your marketing collateral and visitors to your website are people like us, who are typically short on both time and patience and presented with an ever increasing amount of information and competing options. Write clear and convincing content that will stand out for the value you wish to convey. What (marketing) language do you speak?