HOW TO: Be A More Effective Communicator With Guidance on Matching Your Words To Your Audience

Do you ever wonder why your really great idea doesn't get the traction you think it deserves? You might consider borrowing the best thinking on how ideas get marketed. The first step to being more persuasive is to understand the person who you want to consume your idea. 

Unless you're in a marketing department, you might not have heard of Seth Godin.  He's teacher/author/speaker/thought leader who writes a wide-ranging blog.  Recently, Godin wrote a post suggesting there are two different kind of consumers of ideas:

EARLY ADOPTERS, who want a unique experience, and

MASS MARKET ADOPTERS, who want something that just works. 

As a great marketer, Godin knows that if you know which one you're talking to, you can use the language that's more likely to be persuasive.  

It gets trickier when the same person is an early adopter for some things, and a mass market adopter for others. For example, a Chief Investment Officer might an early adopter of technology tools that help his or her team have a perceived edge in generating alpha. They want something fresh, new and interesting, and are willing to make over-sized budget allocations. However, I've also seen an enthusiastic back-office executive who is excited about a new idea that will improve efficiency and reduce risk get shot down by that same CIO when they make a pitch for the budget.  That CIO may be a mass market adopter when it comes to the back-office budget - they want something that just works.  

So, you may be more effective (and successful) by carefully considering the words you use. If you're an innovative back office executive, and get excited about new ways of evolving your function, you may naturally talk about those innovations in a way that appeals to you.  But your audience may only be willing to consume cost-center ideas as a mass market adopter. 

When you're influencing a mass market adopter, Godin suggests you may want to use words like:  

  • Tested
  • Established
  • Proven
  • Industry-leading
  • Secure
  • Widespread
  • Accepted
  • Easy
  • Discounted
  • Everyone
  • Experienced
  • Certified
  • Highest-rated
  • Efficient
  • Simple
  • Guaranteed
  • Accredited
  • Public

Godin cautions, of course, that the words you use should be true, and your end state matches the story you're telling.  

Give it a try. Take a page out of a master marketer's play book. Know your audience and use effective words.