I love words. All shapes and sizes: big ones, fat ones, complicated or colorful. Within words lies the doorway to the stories that make up our lives. These stories are what connects us to the rest of the world. They engage us at such a deep level that we are reduced to tears or sent into an uncontrollable fit of gut splitting laughter. But one issue is messing it all up.
The point of words is to use them to communicate something. If people don’t understand even one word in a sentence then what the sentence is trying to convey is lost. Yesterday, I was posting about the crazy Colorado weather on my personal Facebook page when I decided to add a descriptive word that is ironically one of my favorites in the English language.
Not only is this word not widely used. It is complicated to say and spell. Plus, it has multiple meanings. This stacks up to mean the reader has too many barriers to overcome in order to gain understanding of what I was attempting to say. The result?
Some people read it saying to themselves,”Oh, there goes Shiloh again using big words.” Basically, they form an instant opinion on my brand, judge then move on questioning the idea of even reading my next post.
Best case scenario is that those I wanted to engage were interested enough to put in the effort to take on the challenge of learning a new word. By doing this I not only provided value to them, but also served as a builtin qualifier for my message calling to attention a specific segment of my audience.
This shows the power of words to turn people on and turn’em off. Choosing your words wisely is what marketers do best. We literally think through each word we use. Their impact. Their purpose. What we write is by design. Not an easy job considering all the moving parts like channel, media, audience, call-to-action, brand and so on.
A useful tool I use with clients around words is part of creating the “voice” of their company. One of my trade secrets is that once you determine your brand persona, you actually research what words that persona would use.
If your company wants to be seen as an educator you must use words that are common to educators, while at the same time taking into account the words that the intended audience understands. Create a cheat sheet for yourself of these words. Each time you generate content refer to the list. Sprinkle them in. Don’t overdue it or it will seem unnatural and forced.
You must admit that words are powerful. How you use them matters. Take the time to consider this before you throw a bunch of words out there.
As they say, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”