There are about 7,000 different languages in the world. I’m not sure if that number already includes vernaculars. But even if it does, that’s a whole lot of languages. Add dialects, sociolects, etc. and the number would grow even further.
With so many different languages and variations of languages spoken all over the world, it’s surprising we don’t misunderstand each other all the time. Oh wait, we do do that, don’t we? ;)
Not Really Speaking the Same Language?
When we attempt to communicate with someone without having any language in common, most of us are comfortable getting creative. We use our hands and feet, we’re pointing and drawing to get our points across. When we know we don’t speak the same language we’re doing quite alright finding common ground.
However, most often our misunderstandings arise from not being aware that we are speaking different languages.
For instance, a business manager and a graphic designer may both be speaking English. But, quite likely, they are both speaking their own jargon — using a variety of terms pertaining to their particular work. Unaware of this, their communication efforts may just fall flat. Or, worse, they will only realise much later that they’ve been misunderstanding each other all along.
One-Way Communication Has No Feedback Loop
One the business manager and the graphic designer figure out that they have a problem in the communication department, those two will eventually find a way to understand each other. Since their personal communication is a two-way street, immediate feedback will help them figure out when they’re not getting each other. A simple “I don’t understand what you mean by this, maybe you’re using terms I don’t usually work with” will often suffice.
It’s one-way communication where jargon becomes a real problem. When jargon is used on a website, someone who doesn’t understand this jargon has no fast and easy way to tell the creators: “Hey, I think you’re using jargon. Could you explain this to me again in less complicated terms?”
More likely, they’ll just get frustrated or pissed, navigate away from that website and forget about the product or service that’s being sold there.
This is where copywriters come in. We are the babelfish of one-way communication. We’re the bloodhounds who sniff out jargon that goes over the customer’s head and eradicate it as much as we can. We make sure that your target group doesn’t need to speak the language of your business in order to understand the product they want to buy.
A Good Copywriter Helps Your Customer Understand What You’re Saying
The most important part of my work as a copywriter is taking a message that is crystal clear to the person speaking, and would easily be understood by their peers, and transforming that information into a message that people outside that area of expertise will be able to grasp as well.
Here’s a practical example: Tech Startups
I work with tech startups a lot. Most of them target customers of varying backgrounds, including some without much tech knowledge.
Technical founders and developers are used to talking to other tech people, who speak the same jargon. In those conversations, their message will generally have no problem getting across.
Meanwhile, when tech startups talk to their non-tech customers on their website, those will often perceive the copy as technobabble, maybe because they don’t have the tech background necessary to understand the message.
For the most part, human beings don’t enjoy if something goes over their head. It makes them feel stupid and left out, and they don’t appreciate that. As a result they’ll likely turn away from the product and find a solution elsewhere.
Translating Jargon for Your Customers
This is where I come in, the babelfish in your customer’s ear. I believe there’s more to writing the copy for your website than just putting words in your mouth. A good copywriter is also a translator, she breaks the complicated industry speak down into more general terms without making the audience feel like they’re being talked down to.
I believe in getting to know you and your brand, figuring out what makes your ideal customers tick, and creating a clear and concise brand voice. Breaking down the jargon is the next crucial step in creating an online presence for your brand that doesn’t just speak to those who have the same background as you.