It’s always surprising to me that so few companies spend a lot of time and money on crafting the messages and communications they use for their business. Or, they change the words so frequently that no one remembers them, including employees. Yet, it is these words that can make or break a company. It’s not a lot of extra effort to pick better words that will make your marketing more credible so why don’t companies spend the time?
I’m sure you’ve heard expressions like “say what you mean and mean what you say” or “underpromise and overdeliver” but how many companies actually take those expressions to heart. If they did and selected their words carefully to express that promise then their business would immediately be much more credible and customers would be more loyal to their brand.
Think of your marketing as a promise you make to your customers and with each word you set an expectation. This seems simple enough but you need to remember that the words you select may mean different things to different members of your audience. Plus, your customers are skeptical as companies have broken promises to them many times in the past.
This means you need to set expectations carefully and you must use language where what you are saying is what your audience believes. Basically, you need to be authentic.
A couple of years ago, Michael Maslansky published The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics, which outlines Four Principles of Credible Communications that I believe are the key to developing language that makes your marketing more credible:
- Be Personal – Your language needs to be personal. You should talk about why your audience would want to buy, or what’s in it for them, not what you want to sell.
- Be Plainspoken – The words should be clear and simple. Complicated language will intimidate your audience or confuse them. Don’t use jargon or acromyms they will not understand.
- Be Positive – You communications need to highlight the benefits. Using fear to sell your product or service will destroy any trust that you may have built with your audience.
- Be Plausible – What you are saying needs to be believable but not too good to be true or your audience will dismiss it. It’s a fine line but don’t oversell or don’t be extreme.
Making your business more credibile with the language you use is simple: use words that clearly tell people what you will do for them and then be that rare company and do what you said you would do.