Speaking Your Audience’s Language Is Harder Than Expected

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It’s the nature of marketing to develop a brand that meets the customer expectations and creates a unique customer experience. In 2014, the Marketing Got Complicated study highlighted the complex dilemma that marketers face. To be seen by your audience, you need to be everyone at the same time and seize every opportunity to convey your message. But when everything becomes a priority, nothing is a priority. Reports showed that a whopping 72% of marketers struggled to find their target in a multi-channeled environment. Almost 7 years later, the observations made by the Marketing Got Complicated study are still accurate. The marketing team is working hard on telling a compelling brand story that can engage with their B2B target. But what if the story you tell appears in the wrong language target? Indeed, a Common Sense Advisory study reveals that 74% of your audience are more likely to come back to the brand for further purchases if the messaging and service were offered in their language. Speaking your audience’s language is the most challenging obstacle to effective B2B communication. By including factors such as foreign language, specialist technical or industry-related jargon, and formatting add-ons into the communication strategy, businesses can bridge the gap between the organization and the relevant B2B audience groups. But why does it remain so difficult to speak the same language as your audience? 

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Embracing international cultures

As surprising as it might sound, B2B audiences are more likely to speak English at professional fluency as part of their day-to-day activities. But 60% of non-native English-speaking B2B audiences would rarely or never purchase from an English-only business, regardless of their grasp of languages. On the other hand, non-English-native B2C customers are more likely to commit to purchasing from an English-only company. Indeed, B2B audiences are more likely to reach out to a B2B supplier, provider, or partner, which is why native language communication is preferred. For marketers, the priority to target non-English speaking groups is to offer services in their native language(s). From a business perspective, it can be beneficial to enhance your language skills with solutions such as Preply online tutoring platform. Indeed, while marketers are not required to create multilingual communication, it can be helpful to use language learning as a way of understanding a foreign culture. This isn’t mandatory, but it can ensure that both translators and business are on the same page when it comes to approaching a foreign market. 

Typically, businesses approach international communication with different strategies. One of the preferred approaches is to create the communication in English before proceeding to the translation for the relevant target language. The other strategy encourages B2B marketers to build a close relationship with local copywriters and marketing specialists who can help develop the most relevant communication for each market. Ideally, a local expert may be better suited to ensure the communication is a culture match. A cultural gaffe can be costly. Therefore, international experts recommend building an understanding of each market, whether you choose to trust local storytellers or work with a language tutor. 

Same language but different jargon

Business jargon is both a blessing and a curse. Jargon serves a purpose in a specialist environment as it describes a technical issue. But when it comes to reaching out to a B2B audience, jargon can become questionable. As a rule of thumb, jargon can only help to sell if the audience understands it. Indeed, technical jargon refers to a term that’s used to describe a specific terminology that is relevant to those who share the same technical background. Consequently, it’s a shorthand terminology that should simplify communications within specific audience groups. B2B targeting makes the use of jargon challenging as each business can also create its own terminology, driving a gap between what one company says and what another hears. 

Ideally, to tell a compelling brand story, a company should reduce the use of jargon to a minimum. Firstly, the process will reduce confusion over unique, organization-centric terms. The marketing and IT sectors are especially creative when it comes to the creation of new terminology. SoLoMo, for instance, is a marketing buzzword that might make marketers take a double-take. It refers to Social Local and Mobile strategies but the odd abbreviation can leave many experts wondering what it is. The bottom line: Jargon should be part of an educational journey. If you introduce new jargon to the industry, you need to educate your audience to help them understand the meaning and purpose of the new term. In the case of SoLoMo, it seems that jargon is only utilized to exclude knowledgeable marketers from the discussion, hence creating an elitist community where there is no need for it. 

A word on emojis and gifs

While visual indicators such as emojis and gifs are typically associated with B2C communication, they have a role to play for your B2B audience. Indeed, the pandemic has encouraged a change of pace and attitude toward remote work. As a result, virtual offices have appeared as a solution to ensure both the safety of the team and the survival of the company. With platforms such as MS Teams, a prominent choice in the B2B sector, the chat function introduced professionals to the regular use of visuals. Contrary to common belief, emojis and gifs play a huge role in professional communication. They add a new layer of clarification, ensuring that the reader knows the intent of what is written. Most B2B employees have been using visuals in their communication since the start of the pandemic with great success. So it makes sense to integrate them into your messaging. 

Emojis, for instance, can have a positive psychological impact. According to psychology research, the brain’s reaction to emojis is the same as when individuals interact in a face-to-face context. With regards to the value of interpersonal contacts, emojis can bring the personal touch that your corporate message is missing. Similarly, gifs can also be part of B2B content, as they are crucial to capture attention. A gif is, by definition, a short, animated visual, so it makes sense that it’ll be an eye-catcher. But B2B companies can utilize gif technology to showcase their product features easily and rapidly. 

Too many B2B communication strategies fail to maximize their audience’s language. Indeed, speaking the same language as your audience group is a delicate balance that requires full cultural understanding. You need insights on the local culture, the jargon that is typical of the industry, and the visuals that are suitable for your audience. Language changes, and so should your B2B communication strategy. 


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