Unclear Ad Messages Can Cost You Money, or Burn Your House Down
Industry Jargon Confuses Your Customers and Fails to Get The Message Across.
Yet, I see people, companies, and in this example - governments - make this mistake all the time. They launch unclear advertising using words only they know, every day.
I'm currently traveling the US, and I see the signs constantly. One specific sign (an actual sign) has caught my attention many times. The signs read “100 Foot Defensible Space. It’s the Law.”
These signs are everywhere across the Western US. They usually include a picture of fire. Presumably, they are advertising some type of fire safety.
I was struck by how useless the signs are, to anyone who doesn't know that terminology. I had to google it. Wanna know what the top google query is:
“What is defensible space?”
Apparently I'm not the only one confused. I read some of the search results, though. It’s a law, stating you have to create a 100’ barrier around your home that is fire-resistant. It's a simple concept, really.
They also advertise this around camp sites, to convince people to keep a safe open space around their camp fires.
Why Should You Care?
If the purpose of your advertising is to make people google something, that’s one thing. But if you’re trying to get a point across that could avoid a wildfire starting this evening, you have to do better.
In this case, “what is....” being a top search phrase, is a very bad sign.
Nobody knows what the hell it means. Nobody is going to act on it, because those words mean nothing to the average person seeing the sign. The people who know the meaning well are the government employees who created the regulation and drew up the signs.
They didn’t take the time to consider their audience. If they had, they would’ve realized they needed to put it in simple terms everybody could understand.
Off the cuff, maybe something like “Fireproof your home, 100 feet around. Or get fined.” Easy to understand, and likely more effective.
Instead, they used an industry term most people will ignore. That jargon may be common inside the fire prevention industry. But when regular people see it, they gloss over it and move on.
What Does it Mean For You?
The same goes for your own advertising. If Your customer has to Google a term you use in your ad or sales page, you are out of luck.
They won’t do it. Unless of course, they are an advertiser like me, and they look it up just to see how bad your ad actually is.
Of course, there are “Search awareness campaigns” and other complex multi-channel strategies - but thats another topic.
And sure, you have customers who understand your industry lingo. They are the exception, not the rule. The other 99% of your potential customers would love you for using words they know.
When you make it easy for the majority of your market to understand, your results will show. And I mean EASY.
Your customers shouldn’t have to guess at a single word, and they definitely shouldn't have to do a web search.
How to Make Clear Advertising Messages
I have more, but you’ll be ahead of most of your competitors if you do just these things. Just remember, your customers are people, and people like to do business with people. Keep your jargon internal, where it belongs.