Speaking the Same Language

Projects are harmonious when everyone is on the same page about communication style and vocabulary that will be important throughout.[/caption] Recently we were in a planning meeting with a vendor we often work with, and we realized halfway through that we had been talking about two very different things because of a difference in vocabulary. While one word being used had a very distinct purpose to Mad 4 Marketing, the definition was very different to the vendor. On a larger scale, we realized that industry vocabulary — the kind of inside-baseball stuff that would sound like gobbledygook at a dinner party — can easily be lost on people from other professions. It can even be different for people from the same industry, with different specialties or backgrounds. That can also be true for vague business buzzwords (your “synergy” might not be everyone’s “synergy”). After 25 years in business, it’s easy for Mad 4 Marketing to talk about our areas of expertise — which is perfect for our in-house harmony, to get the job done day-to-day, but we’re now very aware that it’s something to deliberately put down when we walk out the door (or pick up the phone). In the end, our conference call with the vendor was a great lesson. Our communication skills with a longtime collaborator are now better than ever — and we all had a good laugh at what the finished job might have looked like, had our discovery not been made. But it was also a wake-up call about the power of language, the importance of clear communication, and the need to chronicle the etymology of in-house style (which can also be fluid, and change over time).

Breaking Down the Breakdown

Let’s say the word in question was “planning.” Maybe when we say “planning meeting” above, the idea that comes to mind for you is different than what it meant for us. It could mean a strategy session, for example, between internal players on a project. At your company, it could mean a consultation with a prospect, which might be very formal, or it could mean the first meeting with a newly signed client (and for best results, you probably shouldn’t use the same word for both, or for similar but slightly different types of situations or project steps). Or maybe it’s just a meeting that happens every Monday, to make sure everybody’s on the same page no matter which clients or projects are on deck that week, which might be more casual (and ideally involve bagels). You can easily see how three people reading this article could get a different image in their head at the same time — which can lead to creating a very different ad. Refining your language is great for your team, for your advertising, and just to get the job done.]]>

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