No one would ever suggest that “Baffle ‘em with BS” is a smart marketing strategy. And yet, too many IT marketers are giving exactly that impression to prospects. As a managed services provider, you can’t expect potential customers to take you seriously as a future working partner to help grow their business if you cannot clearly and succinctly explain why they should.

What’s getting in the way? Jargon.

A few weeks ago we posted an article about the perils of jargon for IT professionals, noting that fuzzy buzzwords and industry slang can be particularly damaging for your marketing and client relations efforts. Now, we’re really getting down to business, with a four-part blog series designed to define the problem in greater detail, help you identify where and how jargon is holding you back and replace the bad with something far better: clarity.

Using Jargon is Risky Business, Tom Cruise.

It’s an insider language, like a verbal secret handshake. And where there are insiders, there are outsiders. You want to attract prospects, not alienate them. Why does an overabundance of jargon turn people off?

  • It’s rude and self-important.
  • To some people, it can even feel a bit like bullying.
  • It can make you seem untrustworthy – are you deliberately trying to confuse prospects? Studies show – no surprise – that most people believe straightforward presentation is accurate, whereas confusing content is questionable.
  • Your inability to present important information in a way that is readily understandable shows a lack of understanding of your clients as businesses and your target audience personas in particular.

All of these diminish your marketing and chip away at your desired reputation as a go-to resource for prospects and existing customers. That puts up barriers rather than building bridges that could lead to long-term relationships.

Think relationships don’t matter? Then perhaps you didn’t know that a significant majority of failed outsourcing partnerships fail due to poor relationships, not poor performance.

Prospects have questions. They’re hoping you have answers – ones they can understand. They don’t need jargon, they need to save money, save time (which is also money), link people with data so they can do their jobs or live their lives more conveniently. Your marketing must clearly and concisely explain how your services facilitate that. What’s in it for them?

If it’s difficult to figure out what you offer and whether those services can really help them, they’ll simply look elsewhere.

MSP Marketers are in a Tough Position.

When you’re trying to attract attention from small and medium size businesses, you have to appeal to some very different personas. There is tremendous disparity between a very small business with only a few employees and a company with 500 people, particularly when it comes to IT savviness. So who are you targeting?

If you want to approach (and impress) a non-technical decision-maker, you simply cannot use the same highly technical language and industry jargon you might use to approach a CIO and his or her staff of IT professionals. Beyond that obvious difference, though, there is something else at play. Shrewd marketers target both decision-makers and “influencers” – the tech specialists within your target companies who have the power to give your proposals the nod of approval or a deadly thumbs-down to their leadership.

It’s important to tailor your messages for the audience at hand. But, frankly, even people who speak fluent IT appreciate plain English.

Meanwhile, there’s another risk undermining your marketing success. Jargon can be an SEO-killer, keeping people from finding you online. It is essential to create website and other content that incorporates the keywords your targets are actually using to research services like yours -- and it’s not jargon. If your marketing isn’t using their language, they may never find you. You are effectively directing them to your competitors.

Get a Jump on the Competition.

MSPs cannot grow and prosper without marketing that works. So while others are outdoing each other loading up their content and personal communications with mind-boggling jargon, why not position yourself as the distinctly different option? Be the MSP that not only understands the IT challenges SMBs face but offers relevant solutions that bring tangible benefits. Spell it out in plain English, and you’ll immediately built trust and confidence.

Turn influencers into allies who can promote your MSP to colleagues and explain why you’re the best choice for their company. How? Often they’re hampered in making their own compelling case to higher-ups for technical or functional upgrades, because they, too, get tangled in jargon rather than speaking plainly. When you work together to translate Tech Speak into everyday language, you’ll both benefit.

Now that’s smart marketing.

Using jargon isn’t always dire, sometimes it’s simply pointless. Stay tuned for our next article, in which we’ll explore the lighter side of jargon.

What else do you need to be an effective MSP marketer?