Rule Number One: Know Thy Audience!
"I'll bet you that no one under 30 will know what I'm talking about."
I was young, but I took the bet. I won.
As background, my parents have been involved in sales businesses since my teens, which meant that I've had the benefit of some great (and some not so great) marketing training for years now.
The speaker at this event (I can no longer recall his name unfortunately) was quite highly regarded, and had some wonderful stories.
Until I stopped him dead in his tracks.
The room must have had at least 1,000 attendees, most of whom were Baby Boomers seeking advanced sales training. The speaker was going on about the permanence of good marketing, and then he decided to challenge the audience.
He said "I'm going to give you the first part of a slogan, and I will bet you that anyone here over 30 will know the rest of it in a second, and anyone under 30 won't have a clue what I'm talking about."
I was ready.
He opened the slogan with "Winston tastes good..."
Barely an adult myself, I stood up in the packed room and shouted back "like a cigarette should."
He stumbled back, and was stunned when I told him my age.
As a non-smoker myself and as someone born past the golden years of cigarette advertising I'm not sure how I knew the slogan, but somehow I did.
The speaker learned a great marketing lesson himself that day, and one that I think resonates well beyond that room.
Don't ever assume what your audience knows, or doesn't know for that matter.
When you write in coded language and jargon, you're speaking to a very narrow population while practically ignoring everybody else. While you're counting on that narrow population to find you, you may be missing the reader who knows them and can make that connection. For example, your next door neighbour may never need your services, but he may know your dream client and be happy to make an introduction provided he understood what you do.
If you go too far in the opposite direction, people are going to lose patience, or even worse feel like you're talking down to them. Good communication is about making everyone feel included without using that bulky jargon up front. It's also about explaining key terms and concepts without making anyone feel foolish while you're educating them.
What's more, even though someone may understand exactly what you're talking about, they won't mind if you take an extra few lines to explain it to someone else.
People won't connect with you if they can't understand what you do. They also won't click with you if they feel belittled or patronized by your messaging.
I help businesses find that sweet spot. I work with them to explain complicated industry concepts in a way that almost anyone can understand and relate to. It offers them a new way of framing their story, and helps ensure that they are accessible to more people than they ever had in mind. Contact me today and let's find a time to talk about your business and your storytelling.
As a final piece of advice - don't bet against your audience. It can be pretty embarrassing when they win.