Are You Speaking Your Customer’s Language?

speaking the language of your customer
Marketing a business, from the tiniest lemonade stand to the biggest multinational corporation means you need to speak your customer’s language. That isn’t English or French or German or whatever language you use in your business. It’s a special kind of language: the language of perception.

When you communicate with a potential customer, you’re both coming at the situation from completely different perspectives. If you want to be successful with marketing, you need to learn to see things from their perspective, and learn to speak in their language.

The Customer’s Perspective

A customer may or may not want to part with the money in his wallet readily. He has needs, he has desires and he needs to be convinced that you will help him achieve his goals. It doesn’t matter whether you sell lip balm, running shoes, or car wash services.
Your product or service is completely irrelevant to a customer, because that’s not what he’s buying.

Consumers buy results, feelings, visions. They buy products or services that help them achieve their goals of increased comfort or perceived luxury or peace of mind and more. From the customers perspective, your product or service is only a tool to help reach his or her goals and visions.

The Seller’s Perspective

You’re coming at the situation from a completely different angle. You don’t know what your customer is thinking. Does he want to feel more important after buying your product or does she want to make her friends envy what she owns? What will tempt your target consumers to buy what you have to offer?

You need to convince potential customers that what you sell is what they need to achieve their goals—goals that might be beyond the simple benefits that your product or service immediately offers.

Here are two examples using common household appliances:

A consumer wants to buy a toaster. You might think that all he wants is toasted bread, but in reality, he might want a faster breakfast so he can get out of the house more quickly. Marketing the speed and easy of use could be the key to getting him to buy.

Another consumer is looking for an espresso machine. You might think she wants a jolt of strong coffee, but what she truly wants is to replicate that peaceful, posh feeling of a French café in her own home. In this case, advertising the experience would be critical to the sale.

Your perspective can’t be about the immediate sale, because your consumer isn’t thinking that way. You need to approach the matter in the language the customer uses. What you sell is just a resource to resolve all the client’s problems and fulfill his needs.

Targeting through Language

Learn to speak “customer” and delve into the emotions and feelings your products and services produce. But go further than that. Get to know your target customer intimately, and use words and language familiar to that person.

I once saw a skin cancer awareness poster targeting teens. The poster showed a young woman, all brown and stylish in her hip-hugging jeans. The text was written in teen-speak, “B4U”, instead of “before you…” The direct target market of that poster was young teens who wanted to be stylish and tan, and who probably used text messaging more than the telephones. To reach that young teen, and explain the dangers of sun exposure, the content needed to communicate in a language they where familiar with.

Speaking your client’s language makes your business more appealing to potential customers. It creates a bond. It removes your need for a sale from the equation and replaces it with the customer as top priority.

Speaking the client’s language in familiar words will give you more influence in the sales process. Approaching a potential customer from his or her perspective adds impact and puts you where you want to be: on the customer’s side.


Reader Comments

Mar. 20. 2008 8:16 PM

Good info that I know it the back of my head but it is always nice to be reminded of these simple things that can make such a difference in a persons success.

Mar. 21. 2008 4:04 PM

Hi Amber,

I agree, even as a seasoned marketer it can be hard to keep all of the basics in mind at every step of the process. And it’s usually the simple things that are the most important.

- Mason

Oct. 9. 2012 9:44 PM

Hi! The author has tried to bring in notice the top secret of todays marketing success. Speaking in the customer’s language could be the best possible way to satisfy the existing customer and attract the new one.


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Feb. 20. 2014 1:49 PM

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Mar. 5. 2014 9:31 AM

Nice examples of perspective! This is true for most of the sales that happen today, mainly because it’s not about the product anymore since all of them are pretty similar when talking about prices and benefits.

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