Don’t forget rule 101 of effective communication

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Many organisations wonder why their market does not better understand them, even though in their own eyes they communicate well.

The reasons become clear if a look is taken at such companies’ literature and promotional material.  They use language that makes sense to the company, but isn’t always understood by others.

It still amazes me that many company executives appear to be only comfortable using jargon and management-speak which, whether spoken or in writing, sounds like gobbledegook to their audience.

Indeed, I’ve shared the lift with employees of one company after a senior executive presentation, when one asked her colleagues “what was he on about?”.  If your own employees don’t understand your meaning, then the chance of the broader public understanding it is very small.

Unfortunately financial services organisations are among the worst offenders.  Take this company description I recently came across on the internet.

…”(Company name) provides a range of finance products and payment solutions to consumers and businesses through a network of retail and business partners…”

People within that organisation probably know exactly what that means, but without some points of reference, few others can work it out.

The company’s products and services could be anything.  Key information in missing.

It’s like the fleet of interstate trucks I often see on the road bearing the slogan “Supply Chain Solutions”.

I’d guess that 99% of road users would have no idea what that means.

The trucking company might well argue that they aren’t aiming their services to most road users, but nevertheless it seems a wasted opportunity to me.  Why have the slogan on the trucks if they don’t want people to understand it? What’s wrong with “we solve delivery problems”?

Indeed, every other company these days seems to offer “solutions” – it’s a classic buzzword – but don’t explain what they do or what their services are.

“Financial solutions” is used to cover just about everything in financial services and consumer finance.  Rarely does it give an insight into what an organisation actually does, or help the people it is trying to reach to understand the service.

Rule 101 of effective communication is that the other party needs to understand what you are saying. Organisations need to check their communications are being understood and, in particular, how they describe themselves.