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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

    
Jargon intimidates buyers.
Simple writing makes the consumer more likely to buy.
Hawkgirl




msg:918910
 11:41 pm on Jul 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

Interesting article today at PCWorld.com -

Consumers don't invest in products they don't understand--and many potential buyers find the vocabulary of PC technology bewildering, according to a new study.

If people think technology is too complex, they simply won't buy it, according to the Technology Terminology and Complexity Study released by chip maker AMD's Global Consumer Advisory Board. The survey polled 1535 respondents, 58 percent of them from the United States. More [pcworld.com].

I've had to play around a lot with jargon on my sites. Some jargon in my industry is necessary - but there's a fine line between what is needed to sell my product and what totally turns off my buyers.

I feel the need to be even more careful now. How do you walk the fine line between not enough jargon to clearly identify your products and make your site look professional and so much jargon that your customers are scared off?

It's not just the jargon that scares people - apparently this study also found that perceived product complexity also scares off buyers. If they think the Digital Widget is going to be too complex to figure out how to use, they simply won't buy it.

So the copywriting trick of the day is:
Balance the jargon on your site (not too much, not too little) while at the same time making your complex products and services look totally easy to use.

Easy, right? ;)

(AMD's vice president of consumer advocacy) places the burden not on the buyer but on the seller. "The industry needs to use terms that connote the benefits the products provide."

 

edit_g




msg:918911
 11:46 pm on Jul 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

short, sharp and to the point works well IMO. :)

Hawkgirl




msg:918912
 12:03 am on Jul 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

> short, sharp and to the point works well IMO

LOL!

Short, sharp and to the point may work for edit_g, Man of Internet Wisdom ... but will it work equally well for Mrs. Badcrumble, who may want to shop at your site but, after reading your copy, doesn't even understand what IMO means?

;)

digitalghost




msg:918913
 12:43 am on Jul 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>How do you walk the fine line between not enough jargon to clearly identify your products and make your site look professional and so much jargon that your customers are scared off

I usually write in plain English, then link to "tech specs" or "speeds and feeds". I can work in an extra target phrase that way and the techies can easily find the tech talk they're looking for.

The psychology behind the creation and use of jargon is pretty interesting. We use jargon to establish communal ties and we use jargon to keep people outside of our group. We also use jargon to test the knowledge of those we suspect of falsely identifying themselves as a member of a particular group.

Everyone is familiar with the person that "talks the talk" but can't "walk the walk". Those people usually end up using all the right words but they slip and use them at the wrong times. That's a pitfall that many copywriters fall into when they learn the lingo but don't take the time to learn how to use the words and phrases properly.

There's a time and place for jargon, if you want to create a connection with the technically inclined buyer then jargon can help you. People that are looking for tech specs expect to see some jargon and they might not trust copy that is written in plain English. The last thing you want is someone questioning the writer's knowledge of the products.

I took the little quiz the article linked to and scored 11 out of twelve. I missed the DVR question. I could argue that the jargon is misused, DVD doesn't stand for Digital Video Disc, but Digital Versatile Disc, so shouldn't DVR mean Digital Versatile Recorder? ;)

Hawkgirl




msg:918914
 12:53 am on Jul 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

I usually write in plain English, then link to "tech specs" or "speeds and feeds". I can work in an extra target phrase that way and the techies can easily find the tech talk they're looking for.

And that's a good way to add more pages of content to your site for those search engines, too. Very smart - I like it!

Jenstar




msg:918915
 4:54 am on Jul 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

I usually write in plain English, then link to "tech specs" or "speeds and feeds". I can work in an extra target phrase that way and the techies can easily find the tech talk they're looking for.

Yes, it is a great idea for adding that all-important spider food ;)

But at the same time, it is important because you can never underestimate the stupidity of surfers. You have it too techy, you lose the non-techies. But have it too third-grade, you lose the techies. But with a balance between the two by offering the "plain text" version, with links to the "fancy dancy tech version", you cater to both audiences. And as a business, you face a much lesser chance of losing either group of customers simply based upon the language you used.

jaski




msg:918916
 4:55 am on Jul 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks DG, brilliant insight into jargon .. without jargon :)

borisbaloney




msg:918917
 9:02 am on Jul 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

In one of my major industries jargon is essential. I plan to counter this however, by adding a link on each piece of jargon to a pop-up explanation of the term.

You need quick, informative, explanations of your services, and in-depth explanations for those that don't know and are willing to dig.

Compromise and make your site accessable to everyone.

amznVibe




msg:918918
 9:04 am on Jul 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

People DO get over technophobia though - they might buy something if they really are attracted by a basic feature, but never use some devices to their full potential - hence all the VCRs in the world still blinking 12:00AM

iseff




msg:918919
 2:25 pm on Jul 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

To me, this is just another indication of the way the whole economy is going these days. I think with things like Enron and other fallen companies, consumers are looking for people giving it to them straight. They dont want any of the bull$%&* that companies have been giving for years. Look at Deloitte Consulting's Bullfighter [dc.com] for instance. Who has seen a large company such as DC ever before come out with such a cool program to track the 'BS factor' of a document!?

Give it to your consumer straight, plain and simple. Whatever you possibly could lose in the short run, you'll gain way more in the long run.

Ian

edit_g




msg:918920
 10:29 pm on Jul 8, 2003 (gmt 0)

Short, sharp and to the point may work for edit_g, Man of Internet Wisdom ... but will it work equally well for Mrs. Badcrumble, who may want to shop at your site but, after reading your copy, doesn't even understand what IMO means?

Man of Internet Wisdom! :) Surely you jest! ;)

A few things which ring true in my experience:

1. If you're selling something that is desperately hard to explain you'd better be selling it to the right people.

2. If you understand exactly what you're selling and expect your customers to understand also; you've got your blinkers on.

3. The jaron should come seperately from the sale. So if you need to explain something with heavy jargon make two paths to the sale. One which says "read more about widget products" and links through to sales page and one which goes straight to the sales page for the folks who already know about widget products. People like to figure things out for themselves and feel clever. Make all the information easily available.

4. Use FAQ's and sprinkle links for tutorials, "more about widgets" and "what is widget anyhow?" pages liberally.When you're trying to reduce the number of clicks to your "money page" this can help to keep the number of clicks low.

5. The bottom line is that you need to make sure that a complete simpleton who's a complete stranger to your product can find all the information they need to make an informed choice and that your regular customer doesn't feel that her intelligence is being insulted. Easier said than done.

6. Nobody has time to learn complicated things which they don't need to know, especially on the internet.

7. Keep people entertained, make them laugh or snicker once in a while. As long as people are getting some sort of buzz out of your wriing they'll keep reading.

I'd really like to learn sexy tunes, Mrs Badcrumble, and you think a tune from this book, 'A Tune a Day', you think that's gonna have some really raunchy, sexy tunes in there?

tedster




msg:918921
 12:10 am on Jul 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

There's also a good reason for the average person's phobia about technology. For every highly touted product that works as advertised, there is also a pile of highly touted products that are just plain awful -- released prematurely because of competition or economic forces within the company, and not because the product was really ready for prime time.

In software it's been called dribble-ware, but at least software companies can release a patch. There's no patch coming for that awful DVD player I bought, or the VCR whose servo-motors keep breaking down on a regular basis. A funny thing about the the VCR, it came with a complete wiring diagram -- but who cares if it keeps breaking and does not contain "user serviceable parts".

Many people look at highly technical jargon as an attempt to dazzle them with BS, rather than deliver honest value. And there are good reasons for that wariness that go beyond a lack of technical savvy.

So as has already been mentioned, the challenge becomes communicating a sense of honest integrity and user friendliness, along with access to the important tech data for those who can make use of it.

Having been a technical writer, I know how hard that can be. As a writer, I had to depend on the company's say-so about a product -- what did I know for sure? Often I asked hard questions, and one time my questions sent their engineers back to the workbench for a couple months.

swank




msg:918922
 12:02 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think it all boils down to just what exactly your marketing and what kind of crowd your aiming at. If your selling pc's/parts its best to be as detailed as possible and as technical as possible so that the customer knows the exact details and can decide if the pc/part fits his needs or his machine. Now on the otherhand if your selling something such as say a hairdryer, surfers dont want to know that it has "superelectron 5000 aluminum coils with a jilowat power unit that pump out 430 grueling watts!"
Like many have stated its best to keep it simple and and provide the key points and be as "plain jane" about it as possible while also getting the selling schpeal accross effectively.

Sometimes it doesnt hurt to add the detailed specs on a certain spot as I feel it sometimes helps buyers purchase it because they see it and think to themself, "whoa this thing has alot of high quality features and must be made well" etc. As well it gives them a little something to throw into the convosation with friends when telling them about it, boosts the "image" of it and many who hear such technical words dont try to understand but simply accept and think that it "must be good". (not to say one should resort to this kind of method as a means of promoting but i dont think it hurts and dont believe it is being dishonest provided it is true facts.)

MonkeeSage




msg:918923
 12:23 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't think it is the use of jargon in itself, but the misuse of jargon, that would turn customers off.

If you're selling crochet supplies, use crochet jargon. Selling golf balls, use golf jargon, &c. But if you're selling a hair-dyer and instead of using 'beauty' jargon, you use tech jargon, well you prolly won't get very far.

But if you use the correct jargon--e.g., a 'runway-quality' hair-dryer w/ 'auto-teasing' and 'added body control settings' and a 'penetrating soft heat to reduce follicle damage and revitalize natural sheen'...you'll prolly do much better than a with 'strait, simple' description like 'produces heat to evaporate moisture from wet hair.' ;)

Jordan

tedster




msg:918924
 12:38 am on Aug 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Elswhere in discussing B2B content, I mentioned the difference between content that's written for the Person With the Problem (PWP) and content that's written for the Person With the Checkbook (PWC}.

The PWC (Decision Maker) in a company often doesn't even know the technical jargon. They just need to be convinced that it's a smart expenditure. But the PWP, who is also called a Decision Influencer, knows the jargon well (although often not the cutting edge jargon.) And you'd better have all that good stuff on a page designed for them, first of all just to be found, and second of all, to be convincing.

I've heard of a study that showed technical searches in the B2B market average between 5-6 words. I'll bet there's a parallel for a consumer who is doing research to zero in on their new purchase.

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