Granular, Drill Down, 40,000-Foot View and Hacking, Or Words I Am Sick of Hearing
I may get rode off of LinkedIn on a rail for saying this, but I despise the phrase “forty-thousand-foot view.” I bristle when someone asks me to “drill down” or to get more “granular.” But the word that is truly nails on a chalkboard for me is “hacking.”
Not blackhats and whitehats all getting their uber-nerd and often criminal shit on, but when used with other words, as in “life hacking,” “growth hacking” and “hack your toaster,” I literally want to scream.
It’s not only that these words are overused, it’s that they’re so overused that they mean nothing. Literally.
Hackers used to be a thing. Did you see the movie “Sneakers”? Of course not. I’m the only person who ever saw that movie. (Eagle Eye swears she saw and loved it, too.) Anyway. Those guys were, well, kinda, basically hackers.
Your toaster and a “hacker” have never crossed paths unless one happens to live in your home and you don’t know it. A hacker, not a toaster. You’re not “hacking your life,” you’re using smart shortcuts. I can’t even.
But that’s the point here. The point of today’s blog is how we communicate with one another, and these examples are just a few of the phrases we use without considering what they mean – or if they mean anything at all.
Better Communication, Better Business
The key, deep down at the core of everything, whether you’re selling swimming pools or running for political office, is speaking the language of your audience. Most of the time, that means plain and clear wording, deliberately chosen. Nothing fancy. Get the point across, sell the thing, move along.
Buyers want to be happy. They want their problems solved, whether that means having someone out to fix their dishwasher or finally, finally finding the perfect washer and dryer set to cure all their laundry woes.
But they’re not going to buy from you just because you’re using the most complicated, meaningless version of the same sales pitch as the next guy. The guy who breaks it down and makes buying easy is the guy who gets the sale. They call that reducing friction.
There are five words in the English language that will unlock any opportunity you have in life. Those are “What’s in it for me?” Meaning that you always have to put the needs of the customer, audience, parent, friend or pet in perspective and resolve their problem with clear communication.
Ten-dollar words don’t make you a better businessperson. In fact, I’d argue that you’re going to alienate far more people than you win over when your words fade into the background like so many adults in the life of Charlie Brown.
How to Win Customers and Influence Buyers…
… and other people, too.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to use the word you mean and not some fancy bedazzled version of it. You get no points in Communications Land for using the most letters or more than five syllables in any given word.
But you can improve your language right now. Here are my top tips:
Listen to the word or phrase you’re using. Does it sound like a word? Does it actually mean anything? Can you provide a single uniform definition of it? If you can’t answer all of these questions with a yes, stop using that word or phrase. RIGHT NOW.
Does anyone understand you? Oh, it’s an ego trip for some folks to be the smartest mofo in the room. But, as it turns out, the guy who is creating words out of thin air is usually the same one with an average (or below-average) IQ and, let’s say… hands.
Would you be able to explain the idea or product to your mom in a way she’d understand? I also have a rule that uses your grandma, but today, let’s say it’s your mom. Listen, there’s a lot of stuff your mom gets, she just doesn’t speak in buzzwords and corporate lingo. If you can’t explain the thing to your mom, you don’t understand it well enough.
How do you feel when your kids use teenage slang? If you’re confused, uncertain, frustrated or all of the above, then you know how it is to try to have a conversation with yourself. Now stop doing that and hope your kids outgrow their secret language.
LinkedIn is probably the worst possible place for me to preach plain language, but at the same time, it’s the most appropriate. There are people who want to talk to you, but they simply can’t because the words you use make no sense to them.
Speak plainly. Win all the contracts.
CTA is Short for “Call to Action,” Meaning I’m Asking You to Do a Thing
Now that I’ve explained that, let’s see what I can ask you to do today. How about stopping by In The Cloud Copy’s website? There you can check out our specials, read more blogs like this one, admire a photo of a really intense tornado and send us a message.
You can email me, too, if you want. I’m here to help. And if you’re the one who can’t understand the guy who can’t explain all those big words, ask me. I promise it’ll be our little secret.