I recently received an e-mail which finished with the salutation "ATB" - it took me a little while, but I finally worked out that it stood for "All the Best".
However, the act of unravelling those three letters did remind me of the dangers of using acronyms, "in-speak" and technical language in your marketing communications. You might think that this makes you look cool or knowledgeable but actually it can act as an excluding device whereby you have completely failed to engage with your potential customer.
We often fall victim to using in-speak in order to demonstrate our new proficiency in a profession, and as a way of bolstering our own confidence when we have our Business L plates on.
Even in general business terms we start to bandy around commercial acronyms that we forget are not instantly understandable. For example ROI (Return on investment), KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) and USP (Unique Sales Point). It's worth remembering that in addition to some business owners not understanding these terms - they will never tell you that's the case! This may mean that the large promotion upon which you have embarked with the snappy title of "Our USP is boosting your ROI" - could fail miserably...
As the business community makes increasing use of e-mail, texting and social networking, we make increasing use of abbreviated language. To my 80's-born acronym " TGIF" (Thank Goodness it's Friday) I have slowly but surely fallen into using "BTW" (by the way) and "BFN" (by for now). However, I did thoroughly confuse my husband by using MWAH which he thought was an acronym but is actually the sound of a big kiss!
So, OK no harm in confusing your husbands from time to time, but you must NEVER confuse your potential customers so here's a bit of marketing advice.
Firstly make your marketing copy resonant, understandable and compelling by having a clear picture of your target customer:
Are they male or female?
Which are group are they in?
What sort of newspaper might they read? (i.e. can they understand words of more than one syllable!)
What are their current concerns?
Will they have prior knowledge of what you are offering?
When marketing or advertising copy is written well it positively jumps out at you - which of course is exactly what is intended to do.
An ad on a bus shelter really made me laugh - aimed at their target audience of callow young male drinkers, a drinks company talked about "Giving your girlfriend a good time by taking her to see the bright lights" and had a picture of a large open-doored fridge stacked wall to wall with cans of drink. Brilliant.
And talking about brilliant, here's a whizzy marketing acronym for you to remember when putting together your marketing materials - this one is WIIFM - or "what's in it for me?" Remember, people won't buy from you unless there is something in it for them - so make sure you really do spell out those benefits!
You might also make a note of AIDA - no, not the Opera - but the initials relating to a cornerstone of successful marketing. Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. During a marketing workshop I was running, I was asked about the difference between interest and desire - what a sensible question - here's the answer:
You need to GRAB ATTENTION through something like a striking image, a provocative question or a strong headline
Then RAISE INTEREST by clearly stating what you are offering and how it will benefit your potential client (remember WIIFM?)
At this point, by using promotional devices or offers, you BUILD DESIRE for your business offering and finally
Make sure they know what you want them to do! Is your CALL TO ACTION to get them to expect your follow up call? To look at your website? To phone for an appointment? To complete a prize draw survey? To confirm their attendance at your open evening?
Now those of us who provide copywriting services have always been aware that you shouldn't risk losing the attention of your audience by putting in too much detail that then masks your most important key messages.
However, we now have a new thing to worry about. Apparently the way in which our brains function is changing due to our daily use of texting and e-mails - basically we mostly scan read rather than reading line by line.
So present your facts in bit sized chunks of information - perhaps through
Use bold to highlight the key benefits to your client and K.I.S.S. ...oh, sorry...keep it simple, Stupid.