Correct Vs Common

How using the correct terminology could be costing you customers and sales

We are often reminded that perfectionism can get in the way of actually completing tasks, but how often do we think about the impact of using the correct terminology, versus the language which is commonly used?

When writing a product description or describing the services you offer, how often are you guilty of being correct but perhaps not using the words most commonly used by your target audience or customers?

I recently worked with a client that made jewellery. They had quite poor sales for pieces of jewellery that went around the neck versus sales for rings or earrings.

When I looked a little closer it became clear that they referred to jewellery that went around the neck solely as pendants. It turned out that’s because this particular type of jewellery was indeed a pendant. However, many people when shopping for jewellery that goes around their neck and this includes me, would more commonly search using the term necklace. This is where it became interesting because my client explained that what they made were not necklaces, they were pendants. So, what do you do if the common language for your product or service is not the correct terminology for the item in question?

Often we haven’t even thought about this point we’ve just gone so far down the rabbit hole of the words we use within the business to describe the products that we actually don’t even consider what our customers call them. When we do think about it, often there is a fear that using incorrect but common terms will lead to further confusion or customers that do know the correct terms, simply not finding our products.


My advice


My advice on this is to acknowledge the common term and incorporate it if possible. If not, try and use it as a point of education. in this particular instance, it was used as a point of education so each product description on the pendants now included that people often refer to these items as necklaces and then went on to describe the difference between a necklace and a pendant.

In the world of lingerie, this particular point is also quite common, with many customers exclaiming that they cannot wear balcony bras. What they mean is, they cannot wear a bra that in America is referred to as a balcony bra which in the UK would be a half-cup padded bra which is quite a different garment altogether. Again I find acknowledging the term and using it as a point of education is beneficial as this prevents the same issue from occurring on the next sale and purchase. I have also seen this within the lighting industry, where lights, light fittings and lamp shades have all become jumbled up in the customers’ language.

When thinking about your own business are you guilty of the same, do you let accuracy get in the way of customers knowing you have exactly what they want?

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