Hear the “user vocabulary” – Voice of the Customer Tip #5

How many times have you read marketing brochures, datasheets etc. shook your head and really wondered what the product that is being described is meant to do? Marketing collateral is full of “flexible, scalable, reliable, robust, next generation, empowering, state of the art, ….” – you get the idea. I have always wondered if the folks who write such stuff understand it themselves let alone their customers.

One of the key things to do while listening to customers is making note of words, phrases they use – the vocabulary they use to describe things. If you don’t understand these terms, ask them to explain. Once you start seeing a trend of what words are commonly used, incorporate these terms in your product UI, documentation, in your presentations, in your marketing materials and so on. Communicating to your customers using terms they are familiar with helps you to immediately connect with them. Companies that do this will be able to differentiate themselves (agreed that this is not going to compensate for an inferior product). It is amazing to me how the vast majority of these companies don’t do this. Communicating benefits of your products to your audience is going to be so much simpler if you pay attention to the user vocabulary. It is such common sense to me to do this, but hey who is it that said that common sense is not that common.

One thought on “Hear the “user vocabulary” – Voice of the Customer Tip #5”

  1. Thanks Gopal. This is an older post, but the point is of course still a great one. As we all remember from school, the best teachers are able to explain in simple words, making sure everyone is on board. I’ve worked with teams preparing marketing collateral for products at various stages of their life-cycle. In earlier stages, it’s key for product management to explain the product to marketing in simple terms. Sometimes marketing collateral is inundated with work and they may succumb to the mindset: “just let me know what you’d like to see.” Nonetheless, when suggesting revisions, I’ve noticed that copywriters are much happier if we take time to explain changes. For later stage products, encourage marketing to “play” with the product/Beta for a little while. This sounds obvious, but marketing collateral is sometimes written by people who have never seen the product! You also want to explain/demo how competing products work so that the copywriter can effectively distinguish your product – of course, for this it needs to do something better than the competition!

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