Speaking Customer-ese

Power up your solution marketing with your new customer language skills.

Follow up post to Learn a New Language

– By Steve Robins

Yesterday, we talked about how to develop your customer/buyer/user language skills through a six part process in which you reviewed the target market, culture/jargon, market drivers, the business opportunity, and industry influencers.  Today we’ll talk more about the final phase, Translation.

Customer language should permeate all of your marketing efforts – from research to marcomm to demand generation to sales training.  Let’s take a deeper look at where and how you can make the translation into the language of your customer:

  1. Customer research – Armed with an improved lexicon, you can engage in more meaningful research surveys and focus group discussions with your target market.
  2. User and buyer personas – Incorporate key terms into user and buyer personas.
  3. Solutions – Develop more compelling solutions that address your customers’ underlying business problems and business issues.  Incorporate customer language into the solutions themselves as well as solution names.
  4. Message/materials – Create more relevant marketing messages and materials such as web content, white papers, e-books.  Reference industry/functional issues and use the customer’s industry/functional jargon wherever possible.  Reference tech analysts that are well-known in the industry (more below).
  5. Social media – Armed with a better understanding of the target market and their key business issues, you’re ready to develop and engage in social media activities.  Write more targeted, relevant blog posts.  Respond intelligently to questions on other blogs.
  6. Sales training – Train sales teams on how to work best with the target market.  What jargon do they use?  Key business metrics?  Key industry/function challenges?  How will your solution improve their key metrics?  The more that the sales rep knows about his/her prospects, the more successful he/she will be at engaging with, and selling to, them.
  7. Go-to-market strategy – Use your new customer language skills to determine the most appropriate go-to-market strategy for your target audience.  For example, how do they prefer to buy?  What publications do they read?

Expanding on point #6 above, following is a short outline of a typical solution presentation, incorporating customer language.  Multiple points may appear on the same slide.

  1. Market segment overview
    • Which segments are included – for example, the Finance function might include Corporate Finance, Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable, among others.
    • Overview of today’s business environment
    • Key industry/function drivers (macro-level)
  2. Major business challenges
  3. How your solution addresses those business challenges (in detail)
    • Value – Describe the value using the customer’s industry/function drivers, concepts, and jargon.
    • Functionality – Describe the key features or business processes using industry/function-standard concepts and jargon, showing how each adds value.
    • Customer success – Case studies that show how your solution helped other customers to meet these challenges.  How did they calculate ROI using industry-standard concepts?  Again, use the customer’s industry/function drivers, concepts, and jargon.
  4. Conclusion

A Final Note

You can — and should — speak the language of the customer.   But in the quest to be relevant it’s also possible to go too far. Remember that you’re still an outsider to your market segment’s function and/or industry.  They should always know more about their industry, challenges and opportunities than you will.  Talk in their language but in the end, defer to the experts – the market.  Be humble.


This post has touched on only a few of the many ways that you can use customer language skills.

Where else can these customer language skills be applied?
Comment below and let us know what you think!

Additional Resources


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Filed under Message, Solution Marketing

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