Consumer Dialect.

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Every business category has its own language. It’s especially so in technical and B2B fields. Maybe not so much in mayonnaise or hotel rooms but trust me there are keywords there as well.

Interviewing people in a category is the best way to learn the language. The shorthand. The jargon. The colloquial care-abouts and good-ats. It’s hard to brand plan when you don’t know the language. You come off sounding like detached brochure copy.  

When interviewing stakeholders, subject matter experts and consumers in a category, I approach it las a mentee, setting it up so the interviewee is the mentor and I treat them as such.  The key is to not come off as a data collector or researcher; rather a truly concerned and interested party.  I’d say listener because that’s always good yet in order to show real interest you have to make it a discussion. Story them back, so long as it’s personal. And hopefully interesting or funny. (Either works.)  The more the interview becomes a discussion, the easier it will be for the mentor to slip into the “language” you need.

Small and mid-size business marketers live the category language but often suffer from a tin ear when it comes to talking to their consumers — speaking over their heads. Or they may overcompensate and go generic and sound like lazy copy.

Learn the language.

Peace.