Sunday, 19 June 2011

B2B Intimacy - It starts with the words.

Because most Global companies (and lets face it, who ISN’T global these days?) have to deal with a wide range of cultural, social, political and intellectual levels (not to mention the language issues), it is totally understandable that they might come across as somewhat anodyne. That is to say, they lack personality in their communications. It’s the white rice syndrome. A catch-all style that neither upsets nor inspires. It makes them seem at worst insincere, and at best impersonal. Good luck with that…

One reason corporations do this is that they feel the need to demonstrate their membership of that “club” by using industry terms. By describing their vision in language that excludes and narrows the audience. “If you didn’t understand this then it’s not for you”. The same way lawyers use legal-speak to let everyone know that they are legitimate and that they mean business. It’s fine in a contract, but not in a direct customer communication, surely…?

There’s also a level of perceived risk attached to being human. By allowing easy and relaxed language, marketing departments and copywriters worry that they are not being clear, or in some way they might come across as unprofessional. To echo Margaret Thatcher – there’s no such thing as society. Just people. That goes for companies too. You can change this behavior right now. Today. With the next thing you write, please – just be yourself. You’ll connect on a simple, human level, which will create enough rapport to have people following you and wanting to know more. This is not an argument against substantial content. Just an argument for the appropriate use of simple language and a conversational style, especially when it’s clear you’d like people to make contact or follow you.

So – your homework for this week is;

Make the next piece of corporate copy sound like a postcard from a busy weeks island hopping in Mauritius.

I dare you…


  1. Hi Jim, sorry I can't hang about as I need to add some PPE to my collection ( a full body drysuit and a buoyancy aid ) for my next assignment :) Mostly, I like pictures, but I suppose, when you use words and pictures together they make a far more interesting proposition.

  2. Sorry - but what on earth is PPE???

  3. I think it's Personal Protection Equipment. But I can't understand the context either.

  4. Haha, I know exactly what you mean. I can't stand people who don't talk like people! We were at a networking event the other day and everyone was asked to speak for 30 seconds about their business. About 80% of them signed off with some painfully useless slogan like 'your problem is our business' that just puts you off! I want to hear what YOU think, not your internal communications leaflets!