Watch Your Language!

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Do you love words? I do. I love how they are a collection of alpha characters that can be used to express concrete and intangible concepts. I like that they can be played with in puns. I like how intonation can change the meaning of a word.  Antonyms, synonyms and homonyms are all fun to me. Changing one word in a paragraph can shift the meaning, change the emotions evoked and more. This is why language is so powerful.


When many of us were starting in the business world, content (did we even use the word, “content” way back then?) was very different. Much of it was internal, such as memos, white papers, reports, etc. External forms of business communication might have included a physical newsletter, ad copy, descriptions in catalogs, direct mail and press releases. It's a whole new world now. Content is often geared towards social media: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The small snippets of text you can add to an Instagram post would also count as social media content. Text is joined with hashtags for searching purposes and these are almost an art form unto themselves. In addition, you have emails, blog posts and your website. If you use YouTube and/or podcasts you can add scripts to your list of content that needs to be created. And everything you post, tweet, share, and even say creates and defines your business' brand. Language can make or break your business.

Lisette Sutherland discusses language as one of the single most effective tactics she's ever discovered in the book, Internet business Insights:  "Speak in results oriented language. Tell people what they get when they use your product or service. For example, instead of promoting my webinar with, "Join my webinar about remote working, "I say, "Run problem free online meetings where everyone contributes," or "Work online like you're in an office together." No one wants to join a webinar. Focus on how you are solving people's problems."

Language can be neutral or emotional. Which would be best for your business? That depends on who your audience/client is and what type of business you are operating. I'll show you what I mean.  check out these words (Source:

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You probably have heard of the concept of an avatar. It’s also known as an ideal customer profile. This is the process of determining what type of person would be perfect for your company to service. Are they male or female? Older or younger? Single, married, with children? This doesn’t mean you are excluding people if they want to spend money with you, you are just getting an idea of whom you should target. Your target is going to impact the way you use language.

If you are operating a B2B (Business to Business) company that provides sanitation supplies to the medical industry, would the phrase, "to die for' (as in "these latex gloves are to die for") be appropriate? I'm thinking not. But if you were selling upscale sleepwear directly to consumers? "To die for" may be perfect. Let's consider another example. If you sold heavy equipment to commercial construction firms, the phrase, "fall in love with" as in "fall in love with our front loader" doesn't seem to fit with your corporate message. But if you were hosted weekend retreats for artists "fall in love with" could be something you'll want to use ("Fall in love with the feeling of creativity and feeling supported by your peers.") Know your clients. Know your business. Know your language.