How Industry Jargon is Scaring Your Clients Straight to Your Competitor

How Industry Jargon is Scaring Your Clients Straight to Your Competitor

Are you speaking a different language to your prospective clients and aren’t even aware of it?

I travelled to Montreal Quebec recently and even though my stay was brief, it was not without its challenges in the communication department.

In case you’re not familiar with Canada, we have two official languages: English and French with Quebec’s official language being French. The Constitution does require Quebec to have all legislation be enacted in both French and English though.

With me living on the West Coast all my life, I was never fully aware of how prevalent the French language is throughout that province until I tried to be a tourist there.

Much to my surprise, everything was in French where we were lucky if we saw English sub-scripts on the signs. Unfortunately my grade 12 French many years ago did not do me so well on this trip and I found myself being quite frustrated at the lack of English in my very own country. Just ask the gas attendant who saw me try to fill up the car while trying to read a screen all in French!

This experience reminded me of how language and communication is so important in our business.

Industry jargon in your business can scare clients straight to your competitorClick To Tweet

Every entrepreneur and business owner must be able to communicate clearly with their clients and prospective clients or risk losing them to a competitor. Trust me, if my tank wasn’t so low I would have easily driven off to another station that catered to us English-speaking folks!

One way we often don’t realize we are having a negative effect on our followers is through the “industry jargon” that we use on our website, social media and in our blog posts.

Industry jargon is using particular words or phrases that are very common in our own industry, but not necessarily what the general public is familiar with.

In the web development and online marketing industry, this can happen quite easily where even using the term “Industry jargon” could confuse a reader! Those in our industry know what it means, but does everyone?

Industry Jargon Creates Communication Barriers

I can provide lots of my own examples where it’s easy to talk over other people’s heads using website and marketing industry terminology and acronyms that are second nature to me, but are lost on the receiving end. This is especially true when trying to explain something technical about a website.

But the problem when we fall into that trap of using industry language we’re most familiar with, is the other person is left feeling embarrassed they don’t know what a term means. Often they don’t want to risk looking silly by asking for clarification. Then a disconnect happens where they are not feeling comfortable and will look for the nearest exit.

A problem I see often is on a website when the site owner is using industry jargon to communicate what it is they do and how they can help. The big risk here is if the reader doesn’t quite understand what is being said, they are much more apt to hit the back button and find a site they find more familiar.

Using such language on a website does not make you relatable to your target market since many people will not bother to try and figure out what is being communicated. They hold no allegiance to you so are more than willing to move on.

Industry jargon doesn't show off your expertise - it just makes you un-relatableClick To Tweet

Communicate in a Language Your Audience Can Relate

The best way to ensure you’re not speaking over your ideal clients’ heads is to communicate in a language they understand.

Use words and phrases they would commonly use and be familiar with, especially when describing the problems and challenges they are facing where they are looking to you to help solve.

So take a critical look at all of your marketing materials, including your website, promotional materials and even your social media posts. Are you using any industry jargon, acronyms or slang terms that are specific to your industry but others might not understand? Now is the time to find out and adjust as needed.

During my visit to Montreal, I could give several businesses some advice in this department! Especially where we rented our car – the car’s console display was in French! The attendant ended up spending 30 minutes going through all of the settings and getting the car drivable for a non-French speaking client.

This should never have happened but to those living in Montreal, having everything in French is quite normal to them. But it sure left a poor impression on how they run their business from a client’s perspective!

So always put yourself in your customer’s shoes – is what you are presenting to them something they understand or are you speaking French to them?

Your goal is to be relatable, approachable and non-threatening to their intelligence and you have a much better chance at not losing them to a competitor.

Do you have any experiences similar to mine where you moved on in an effort to find someone that spoke your language?

To your success,

About the Author, Susan Friesen

Susan Friesen offering 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media, is a Web Specialist, Business & Marketing Consultant, and Social Media Advisor. She works with entrepreneurs who struggle with having the lack of knowledge, skill and support needed to create their online business presence.

As a result of working with Susan and her team, clients feel confident and relieved knowing their online marketing is in trustworthy and caring hands so they can focus on building their business with peace of mind at having a perfect support system in place to guide them every step of the way.

Visit and download your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

  • Disco Duck

    A useful article, thanks. I will say though that your inaccurate reference to why we have two official languages was disappointing. Our friends to the south stay ignorant of who we are all by themselves. This was a missed opportunity to teach them that we were founded in part by the French and as a result, have had two official languages since confederation. Shame on you.

    • Thanks for correcting me Disco Duck, it’s been too many years since I was in Social Studies to have remembered specifically why we have two languages but the fact remains, most everyone in Quebec do speak French! Good thing my article wasn’t about Canadian history!

      • Disco Duck

        Fair enough Susan. I guess I’m sweating a little more Red and White since Canada Day just went by!

        • No worries! I have edited the article to reflect better accuracy now 🙂

  • HI Susan! Good insight to customer service once again; this goes back to the ideal client (probably french-speaking.) When I lived in Ottawa many years ago, the locals would start a sentence in French-language and finish it in English! (Or visa-versa, depending on the phrase … ) A very interesting way to open up the client base, if the business chooses to go the extra mile. On the other side of the country, it could be difficult to service clients in Mandarin or Chinese. Goes back to the ideal client.

    • Indeed Kathryn, the ideal client need to be always kept forefront in mind when doing any kind of marketing. We need to speak THEIR language, not necessarily ours!

How Industry Jargon is Scaring Your Clients Straight to Your Competitor

Are you speaking a different language to your prospective clients and aren’t even aware of it? I travelled to Montreal Quebec recently and even though my stay was brief, it was not without its challenges in the communication department. In … Continued