I sat next to a professional bullshit detector at a seminar last week. He had his notebook out and ready to jot down whatever interesting things the speaker might have said. I peered over his shoulder every time he picked up his pen, and here’s what I learned: if you pepper your messages with marketing-speak, BS is all your audience will hear.
The man at the podium that day was no slouch. An accomplished Silicon Valley-type, he had an insider’s view on trends that were relevant to his audience. This presenter had charts and facts to back up his points, and he had a couple of suggestions that might have been helpful to those who were tuned in.
Sadly, though, this speaker packed his talk with jargon. When you lean too hard on buzzwords, it’s hard for audiences to hear you. Or like you. Or believe you.
Throughout the seminar, I stole glances at what my neighbor was writing down in his notebook. It was full of one-word quotes: “ecosystem,” “surfacing,” “impactful,” “revolutionary.” The BS detector was turned on full blast, and no real information seemed to be getting past it.
The language you use to communicate with prospects, potential partners and anyone with an interest in your business or industry should read as if humans wrote it. It should be crafted so other humans will want to read it. It shouldn’t set off any BS detectors.
What are the overused words and phrases in your market? Identify them, and then eradicate them from your marketing copy. Test your messages out on your friends and family. Do they know what you’re trying to say? Are they laughing at the way you say it? Is the text on your website heavy with vague language? Is it focused on your target customer and what he or she needs to know?
These are all questions small businesses need to consider, especially if they want to evade BS detectors and win customer trust.