When you create messaging or content for your potential customers, it’s easy to assume that your audience understands the context or has some background knowledge of your industry. Every industry has their own terminology and jargon that outsiders might not understand — especially when it comes to healthcare, banking or any other service-related business. Reading articles, brochures or websites can become overwhelming and intimidating. When consumers struggle to understand what your company is telling them or if the messaging seems pretentious, it may be off-putting and they might lose interest.
With your branding, it’s important to remember you’re actually speaking to people! You must communicate in the proper voice on everything that reaches your audience. Your voice is not just what you say, but how you say it. Your mission, vision and core values should come through in every way you communicate with your customers: website, social media, marketing materials, packaging, etc. To speak appropriately to your target audience and create a more personable approach to your brand’s messaging, take a look at a few tips below:
1. Do Some Soul Searching
During our Brand Discovery phase, we spend a lot of time helping our clients better understand their business goals and the audience they’re trying to reach. Before we even begin developing your brand strategy and messaging, we work with you to understand understand who you are, what you do, why you do it, and for whom. This foundation work helps pave the way for your visual identity (logo, packaging, etc.) and overall brand strategy.
We focus on your differentiators: What makes your company or service unique? Why would someone choose you over a competitor? We also narrow down your target audience. You can’t be everything to everyone — the more specific you can be about your audience, the more successful your messaging will be. The best way to provide your customers with messaging that resonates and an experience they love is to understand who they are and what they value.
2. Go Straight to the Source
Just because you know who your target audience is, doesn’t necessarily mean you understand how your target audience thinks and feels. It’s important to empathize with your customers and get to know their aspirations, pain points, habits, and day-to-day social interactions. When you learn this information, you’re better able to frame the conversation with your customers. The best way to gather that information is going straight to the source!
When we started working with FedChoice Federal Credit Union last year, our mission was to learn more about the financial goals of their target market: federal employees. It would have been boring and less receptive if we sent out a snail-mail survey asking questions about financial goals, so we crafted a unique campaign around one simple question: “What would you do with a million dollars?” Our team stood in highly trafficked federal buildings where we asked employees to share with us their million dollar dreams on brightly colored stuck them on a large white banner.
Rather than use bank jargon to speak to employees, we created an everyday conversation about financial goals, dreams and struggles distilled into one simple question. We learned that federal employees were looking forward to retiring, wanted to pay off mortgages or college debt, and longed for lengthy beach vacations. Those conversations led to future promotional campaigns and an overhaul of member e-mail content. The messaging became more personable and spoke directly to the financial goals and how FedChoice could help members realize their dreams.
3. Back to the Basics
There’s nothing worse than going to a doctor’s office and hearing the doctor diagnosis you with an illness that you’ve never heard of or can’t pronounce, much less understand. Treatments, procedures and diagnoses can seem complicated and intimidating when rattled off in “medical speak.” In the healthcare industry especially, speaking to your audience in a clear, concise manner will put patients at ease and help build trust. After going through a Brand Discovery phase, you’ll better understand the group of patients you’re speaking to. Are you a children’s dentist? A plastic surgeon? An orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports injuries? Not every doctor practices the same medicine or serves the same patients, so your messaging and voice should be unique to your practice. All doctors, however, should speak to your patients as people, not other medical professionals.
When designing the website for Performance Orthopedics, we made sure it was easy to navigate, personable and contained limited medical jargon. This way, patients feel comfortable viewing the site and don’t feel overwhelmed by the services Dr. Cashman provides. In the “About Us” section, Dr. Cashman includes his background and medical expertise, but focuses more on sharing his personal story and inspiration for practicing medicine. Having once been the patient himself, he has truly walked in his patient’s shoes! The brand’s entire messaging is less about selling services and more about building doctor-patient relationships and creating a trustworthy patient experience.
It’s important for your brand to speak to your audience, not to others within your industry. By finding some common ground between you and your audience, the message you’re trying to communicate will be better received and more successful. Speak with your audience, don’t lecture to them. Your brand will inevitably become more respected and trustworthy when you strip away complicated terminology and cliche industry jargon.