incredibly useful to use jargon to communicate with others who already know the industry well. But it is rarely useful to cram a marketing campaign full of words that are unfamiliar to a general audience.
As such, it’s often best to avoid technical jargon in marketing communications, no matter what your industry or the message you want to convey.
Why should you avoid jargon in marketing?
Every industry has jargon. In poker, technical players will often describe a hand using terms like expected value, equity and counterfeiting – jargon that you might also find at an investment firm.
For players who want to increase their knowledge and understanding of the game, it can be useful to learn poker terms and be able to speak the language of the game.
It’s a similar story in every sector. Football fans are unlikely to care for the technical terms and language that professional coaches will use when planning their games and formations.
And avid gamers may not particularly care for to be able to name every single component of the inside of their computer.
But when it comes to marketing content for a general audience, it’s usually best to avoid jargon wherever possible.
There are several reasons for this:
- Specialists may assume that their reader or viewer understands the jargon, whereas this is often not the case. The overuse of jargon is more likely to confuse and frustrate the audience.
- Jargon can be misused as a way to impress or assume unwarranted authority. Worse still, it can blur the underlying meaning of what is being said. A business person may say a product has “jumped the shark”. What they really mean is that the product has become irrelevant.
- In any case, jargon often has the effect of alienating the reader. It tells people that they don’t belong, and widens that gap between content creator and audience. And that’s not the aim of marketing.
Communicating the message
The art of marketing communication is how simple and easy you can make the message to understand. It should be impactful, yes, but not confusing or full of pretence.
Avoid buzzwords, instead explaining and presenting your points using concise and direct language.
In the case of marketing to a general audience, think about how you would explain the concept or product to someone who had never heard of it before.
If it is necessary or unavoidable to use jargon, then it can be useful to include an outline of the jargon to explain the terms to those who don’t know them already.
When is jargon useful?
As mentioned, jargon can be the most effective language if it is used between those who already know and understand the meanings. In this case, it is a form of shorthand.
A message sent out to a technical team will use very different language to one sent out to general staff in a company or to consumers of a product.
It’s nearly impossible to explain the strategy of a poker hand, for example, without using jargon. Yet you can explain the rules of the game clearly and concisely without it.
Likewise, it is impossible to talk about how a computer is built without using technical jargon, but it’s possible to explain to a general audience what the computer is capable of in terms of the apps it can run and the features it has.
If you’re developing a piece of software, you’ll use jargon to communicate with the team, but when you market the software you’ll explain its functions.
The key is always in knowing your audience.
- Jargon is the technical language used between experts (or assumed experts) in a particular industry.
- When communicating a marketing message to a general audience, it is usually best to avoid jargon, as it can confuse the meaning and, worse still, alienate the reader.
- Instead, you should use clear and concise language to communicate the point. This will make the reader feel like the message is for them.
- Jargon is very useful when talking to those who already understand it. This is often not the case when marketing to consumers. Know your audience.