Benefit by cutting the confusion for customers

Are you confusing customers in your marketing communications?

It’s a common mistake and one that is currently being parodied in an advert on Australian TV. It goes something like this:

A car salesman walks up to a couple sitting in a new car and starts pointing out the car’s features. “It’s got HSC, ATC, ASC and ABS.” When the couple looks at him as if he’s talking in another language, the salesman responds: “That means it’s really safe”. He then continues with, “There’s Bluetooth, multi-information display and steering wheel cruise controls.” Another confused look. “That means it’s loaded with features.”

Like many television commercials, the ad is designed to be funny to attract attention. But if you’re marketing communications – or indeed your sales staff – is confusing people it’s anything but a laughing manner.

So how do you make sure your marketing communications doesn’t fall into the same trap? Here are a few tips to consider:

  • One of the obvious things is to be very careful when using acronyms. The general rule is that if you are going to use an acronym, you should first include a reference to the full name and then the acronym in brackets. For example: “The car is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and hill start control (HSC)”.
  • Similarly, be very careful with jargon. On the whole you should completely eliminate technical jargon from your marketing material. The exception to this rule is if your marketing communications is targeted at people who will be very familiar with the jargon and may in fact find it strange if you didn’t include jargon.
  • Use simple, everyday language. If in doubt, aim your marketing communications at an age or education lower than your target audience. In this way, you’ll be sure your audience will understand your information.
  • Focus more on customer benefits, rather than features of your product or service. Using the example from the television commercial, a customer benefit is that the car is packed full of safety features that will help you avoid accidents and protect you in the event of an accident. As well as being less confusing for customers, focusing on benefits helps to engage.
  • Get someone who’s not closely involved with the business to read through your marketing communications during development. Casting a critical eye over marketing communications and looking for sections that may be confusing can be difficult for those involved in the business so a fresh set of eyes is always a good idea.

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