Back in the ’90s, the idea of love languages ran rampant through couples looking to improve their relationships. The concept proved so powerful that it’s still going strong today.
If it’s so helpful, then why limit the application to romantic partners?
Business owners have plenty of relationships to nurture, the most obvious being their relationships with customers. But finding words and phrases that fit both your brand and your target customer can be difficult. If you really examine it, the language you use to talk about your company might be completely different from the language your best customers use. And that’s a problem.
If you want to attract more right-fit customers, you have to learn to use the words that matter to them (versus to you) to form a connection.
Find Out Your Best Customers’ Words
All companies regurgitate words in their marketing materials that they see as important or unique about their business. When customers see those words repeatedly, a “word cloud” develops that they associate with the company and that tells them whether they want to work with the brand or not.
So how do businesses identify which words to use?
In some instances, they look for insights by asking employees focus-group-style questions: In your own words, what is the company good at? What does your best day on the job look like?
Employees, of course, respond from their perspective, which is what these questions are asking for. But an employee’s word cloud is going to be vastly different from a target customer’s.
Instead, a great strategy is to identify your best customers and find out what words they use to talk about your company. What you’ll find when you do this sort of thing — whether formally or informally — is a pretty big disconnect between the words your team uses to talk about what you do and the words the customers use.
Your team might say, “We have the best equipment, the best people, and great processes.”
But customers might not mention any of those things. They might talk about feelings. “When I do business with them, I feel safe. I feel secure. I feel confident.” Or they might highlight easy.
There’s a gap here that we need to recognize. By using your internal love language to talk about your business, you could be alienating your ideal customers. In fact, you may actually need to de-emphasize these kinds of words when talking about your business so you don’t miss the mark.
All too often, websites, marketing, and promotions don’t connect with the right customers because they’re written for the wrong audience. Instead, we need to write and speak in the customer’s terms.
And it’s more than just marketing; it permeates the customer experience.
What Happens When You Get This Right
When you understand your word cloud in customer terms, you start to adopt those terms and ideas into your internal language. Then you start to become the company your customers think you are.
When you begin to live like the company your customers think you are, it changes how the business looks and even how you feel about it internally.
You spend less time and energy focusing on things that are important to you and your love language, but that aren’t important to the customer. You replace them with things from your buyer’s love language: “great customer service,” “easy to do business with,” “transparent.” They become your internal love language as well, and they manifest for your customer much more quickly.
When you get all this right, you clear away the fog of extra words that don’t add value to your business. You simplify your language and create efficiency in your messaging. On top of that, the tactical responses you take to fit the customers’ word cloud positively impact the internal direction of your business.
Not Just for Customers
Customers make up the largest share of your audience, but you have other audiences, too.
If you want to work with the best suppliers, for example, then you need to catch the best suppliers’ attention. They have a love language of their own. Are you using it?
What about freelancers? Are you using words that make the best freelancers want to work for you? Or are you using words that come from an internal place, inadvertently pushing them away?
How about your employees? Are you speaking to them in their love language, or are you expecting them to adapt to yours? How can you make them happy and willing to do the things that make you a better company?
When you get your word cloud from the right source, every word adds value to your business. By speaking in your audience’s terms, you reduce or eliminate the words that detract from what you’re trying to do as a business. Instead, everything you say is meaningful to the recipient — whether that’s a customer, supplier, or employee.
Your love language becomes not just a reflection of who you are, but something aspirational. You aspire to be that organization and fulfill the words you use.
Back in the ’80s and ’90s, I owned a staffing company, which is how I got started in this industry. We talked mostly about pricing: price per hour, overtime, rules, minimum calls. In other words, we talked about limitations.
We started conversations by drawing lines in the sand that made it difficult for the customer to get what they wanted.
What I’ve since learned in working with staffing companies over the years is that if you change your words to what’s important to the customer instead of what’s important to you, both sides win.
When you talk about training, reliability, flexibility, transparency, and ease of doing business, it sends a completely different signal to the buyer. Now you’re making rules to ensure the customer gets what they need instead of making rules to protect yourself from the customer. They’re two sides of the same coin, but wildly different approaches.
By eliminating adversarial language — typical of the 1980s version of staffing in our industry — and replacing it with words that advocate, you create a better relationship. Where do those words come from? They come from the customer’s word cloud.
Your buyers are telling you what they want you to be for them. They’re giving you the chance to aspire to be what they’re looking for. It’s a transformative opportunity for your business.
How to Get Started
A great first exercise is to take the words from your client testimonials and put them in a word cloud generator. Then, take your proposals and drop them into a word cloud generator and see what comes out.
Now compare. Is there any overlap? Are you embracing the words your customers use in your proposals? Or are you using your own language?
So often, the language we use with customers is about inputs — but customers are interested in outputs. They care about the end result, not about all the details that go into it. Finding the words that matter to them will help you reduce your focus on input language and shift it to output language.
A wealth of word cloud generators are out there for you to choose from. TagCrowd is a good one to get the ball rolling and allows you to input text, upload files, and even paste in website URLs. It then generates a cloud of words that stand out from the information you gave it, something like this.
You can put this information to work right away in a variety of places:
- Website copy
- Cover letters
- Product descriptions
That way, you and your customer will be speaking the same language.
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