BEST PRACTICE

Lost in Translation

Lisa Redburg By Lisa Redburg, Senior Project Manager & Meticulous Cat Wrangler, Extra Mile Marketing

 

“I want to hold your ham”

Wait, isn’t it I want to hold your hand?

Yep, I just watched the movie Yesterday – twice. Without giving anything away, the world loses the memory of The Beatles except for one lonely musician who tries to remember the words of their songs. It’s more difficult than you would think. Is it all the lovely people, or all the lonely people? In the generational game of musical telephone, tons of song lyrics get garbled and reimagined in the popular consciousness.

Marketing can also be a game of telephone—especially if you’re marketing through a channel. Consider all the stakeholders that need to hear your message before a company purchases your products. Then, consider all the platforms and mediums your message gets amplified on. If your message isn’t clear, it will collapse as it travels through the maze of the internet.

“We’re caught in a trout.”
Correct lyric: “We’re caught in a trap” from Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’

Did you know garbled lyrics actually have a name? They’re known as mondegreens - meaning a misheard word or phrase that makes sense in your head, but is incorrect. It’s a slip between physically hearing the word and your brain actually understanding the word.

We operate in the world of the Cloud, AI, ML, DB, Azure, IOPS, SSDs…and the beat goes on. How do we get our message to our potential customers without losing something in the translation? And how do we control what they hear?

“There’s a bathroom on the right”.
Correct lyrics: “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” From Creedance Clearwater’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’

Last month Lori talked about translating jargon into accessible language. That’s got to be one of your first steps: Eliminate the jargon.

I’m going to add 3 more rules this month:

  1. Know Your Audience
  2. Be Consistent
  3. Be Clear

“And the bakers gonna bake.”
Correct lyric: “and the fakers gonna fake” from Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off.’

We always start a project by defining the audience. Who are you speaking to? Is it the business decision maker (BDM) or the technical decision maker (TDM)? What industry are they in? What age group are they? They more you can narrow down your audience, the more you can tailor your language. You can’t rely on their knowledge of your industry’s vocabulary, so you need to be very careful about using any jargon, and make sure any technology terms are clearly defined.

“It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not.”
Correct lyric: “It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not” from Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer’

Did I mention that your messaging needs to be consistent? Studies show that prospects need to hear your message or see your brand seven times before they will even notice it. In social media, it may be easier to get those seven “touches”, but it takes some discipline to make sure your posts are recognized as the same brand with the same message. As marketers, it can feel boring to have the same message or design across social media, your website, this month’s trade show, your email signature, and your sales team’s one sheets, but consistency works. Just try running a marathon without a routine!

“I can see clearly now, Lorraine is gone.”
Correct lyric: “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone” from Johnny Nash’s ‘I can see clearly now’

Consistency is made easier by condensing your message into a crystal-clear soundbite. Compare one software company’s tag line, “Scalable, Flexible, Reliable, and Secure,” to Nike’s, “Just Do It.” The first is full of proof points that customers want from software, but it’s overwhelming and doesn’t tell a story. Nike’s tag line says “get out there and accomplish your goals, we’ll provide the gear you need” in three short words. Use language in your marketing communications that is simple enough for everyone on your team to remember and repeat.

Marketing in 2020 means your message has to resonate with people from all backgrounds, at different stages of life, and with differing levels of knowledge in technology. Using language that is clear, succinct, and easily shareable will help your message thrive online, in emails, and even in one-to-one conversations.  

If you need help clarifying your message, reach out to the jargon-translating specialists at Extra Mile Marketing. Shoot me an email today with your favorite misheard song lyric: lisa@emminc.com.

STATS & FACTS

Did you know garbled lyrics actually have a name? They’re known as mondegreens - meaning a misheard word or phrase that makes sense in your head, but is incorrect. It’s a slip between physically hearing the word and your brain actually understanding the word.

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Lost in Translation