Try your customer’s language instead: it’s called “Human”
Last week, I was excited to hear that Mitel, founded by Ottawa high tech stalwart Sir Terry Matthews, had released a revolutionary new product. So as a loyal Ottawa geek eager to talk up the new device to my network, I hastened over to Mitel.com to find out more. I found this instead. And I Beg to Differ.
I call it “Bizbabble”:
“Bizbabble”: (n) a set of words arranged by well-meaning business communicators in such a way that they look like they should mean something to a human of average intelligence, while utterly failing to actually help anyone understand the thing being babbled about.
Now I mean no disrespect to the good marketing folks at Mitel. I’ve been in their shoes, and I’ve written my share of Bizbabble myself. It’s really hard to communicate well while also navigating the minefields of engineering jargon, business politics, investors, analysts, and more.
But the experience reminded me of this story. And I’m speaking here as someone on the outside who wants to help them get the message out. And to do that, I first need to understand.
10 little words
Let’s go back a bit and read the words above again: “Next-Generation Multimedia Collaboration in the Personal Office Meeting Space”. Now tell me, dear human of above average intelligence. What is this thing? What does it do? Who is it for? Is it something you want to know more about?
The best I could do was “some kind of high tech thingy that helps people collaborate” but I had no idea whether it was a conference phone, a projector, a wireless hotspot, or a mini computer, and I had no clue what a “personal office meeting space” was. A home office maybe?
The words don’t help. And neither did the press release, the product name (“UC” stands for “Unified Communications” not “ulcerative colitis” which came up first on Google) or the the (almost impossible to find listing on) the corporate site.
Nor, unfortunately, did the slickly produced little product site , which spends most of its space talking about why the product is important, but very little about what the heck it IS! And that’s the key thing anyone looking at a new product wants to know!
So here you go Mitel. I solved your problem.
If I were advising Mitel on how to position and describe this product, I’d start with a simple formula:
- 1) Tell us what is in terms most ordinary humans are already familiar with.
- 2) Tell us what makes it special or different from the things we’re already familiar with.
- 3) Do it in a way that people will remember – in this case by surprising them.
So, for example, here’s what I would say their product is after reading a bunch of materials (that said a whole lot less):
“The <insert better name here>
is a conference phone on steroids.”
(Pause. Sound of crickets…)
I could go on of course, but now it’s your turn:
What do you think? Does that help? Or am I hopelessly out of touch? Any examples of simple, helpful corporate communications – especially in very technical or jargon-laden fields? Weigh in below!