Whether you are doing the marketing for your business yourself, or you outsource it, the language your business uses can greatly affect who will be influenced to enter the marketing funnel.
Which language to use
The language barrier can start as soon as you start typing, without even thinking about your message.
Imagine you’re a business located in Cardiff, you come up with a great bit of copy for a new advert, and you type it all in Welsh with no English equivalent. You may want to ensure you only target potential clients in Wales, but you have ensured that more than two thirds of your potential clients won’t be able to read the advert.
If your business deals with international customers, whether it’s around the EU, across the pond, or further afield, then the actual language you use becomes even more important. Even if you only deal with the USA or Canada, you still have to remember the large Spanish speaking population in the Mexican border states, and the large French-speaking population in Quebec.
The subtle differences in language
Recently, YouTube personality Tom Scott conducted a study on what people remember to be the children’s playground version of the lyrics to Jingle Bells.
He found that, not only do certain English-speaking nations have different versions, but certain areas of the same country also had different versions. The UK had many variations.
It’s the same as looking for the word for these:
(And yes, having to search ‘bread rolls’ to find a decent picture for these did cause me some mental anguish, as ‘cob’ only returned ‘corn on the cob’.)
Using the colloquial term for things may cause confusion if you’re a company that deals with clients nationwide, or internationally.
Imagine an Australian company using their stock summer message in the rest of the English-speaking world. Saying ‘Grab your thongs and enjoy a weekend by the sea’ could cause confusion or worse in the countries where flip-flops are not known as ‘thongs’.
The words you use may also have a completely different meaning with different age groups. Ask anyone over the age of 30 what flossing is, and they’ll give you an answer about dentistry. Ask people under 30, and you’ll find a lot more answers about dance moves.
The same can be said about other words and phrases, some of which are integral to society. Someone in their 60s may see being a father as being a ‘breadwinner’. However, a (soon-to-be) father in their 20s or 30s is less likely to share that sentiment as what it means to be a father has changed with society, and the roles of a father are changing with it.
The secret of language
A good advert makes you want to do something, but a great advert sticks with you.
We all have at least one advert which we easily remember. Perhaps it’s a simple message, such as ‘got milk?’. It could be something quite absurd, such as a dancing pony. Maybe it’s simply a heartfelt message, such as ensuring the elderly aren’t alone for Christmas?
Generally, the adverts you recall the most have a few small memorable words. Anyone who has studied marketing, or is from America, will probably remember an entire advert from the words ‘I’m on a horse’.
It’s memorable not because a horse speaks to the audience, but because it stands out. It’s weird, even in the context of the ad, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the product.
Selling yourself is important, but if your message is subtle people may share your advert more as they don’t realise it’s even an advert until the last second. Examples include Melbourne Metro’s Dumb Ways To Die or this banned advert for Ikea.
Although video adverts are usually more memorable, it’s not always these types of adverts that will resonate with the audience or grab your attention. You don’t need a video to keep your advert in the hearts and minds of your audience.
There are many great posters, billboards, and newspaper ads which have a strong message. These stay with people for days, weeks, or even months.
Think! Bike! signs can be found up and down the UK on sides of roads. The message is short, sweet, and to the point; warning drivers there may be a motorcyclist anywhere, at any time.
They could have said ‘A motorcycle may be just around the corner, keep alert’ but if that’s on a sign by the road, you won’t have time to read it. Think! Bike! is two words and says all you need to know.
The Stonewall advert is a great example of a company spreading a message, and not trying to advertise who they are or what they do.
And ‘Hope’? That was Obama’s message when running for president of the United States. He didn’t need to say anything more than that on the campaign poster above, because it said all you needed to know. He had hope for his country, hope for the future, and you should hope he wins.
What can you do?
You may be thinking that as a financial planner or adviser you don’t need to create an advert which touches the hearts of thousands. You may believe that people don’t want a strong message, and they just want to know what you can do for them.
Getting your message out there is important, however, keeping peoples’ attention will depend on the language you use. Existing clients will likely pay more attention as they know who you are.
With a potential client, you don’t have that luxury. So, you will need something short, simple and impactful to grab their attention.
Something as short and simple as the above, along with a link to your website/contact details is a great example of an advert you can put on social media, and expect people to take interest in. They need to read just six words and they don’t need to think about the message. They just need to ask themselves ‘Do I want to have a life perfectly designed for me?’.
Sometimes, you may want to reach out through your community projects, or charitable causes. Whether it’s raising awareness for cancer or helping the environment, there will be people out there who care just as much as you do.
By including this in your advertising alongside copy that explains what you do, not only will you reach potential clients, but you will be making something that people will be more inclined to share.
In a world where large corporations are always in the news for the wrong reasons; tax evasion, poor working conditions and so on, people are starting to show more interest in local businesses, especially those which show they care.
“I’m with Loxley Financial Planning, and they care about the planet”.
The language of imagery
Now that you know what language your advert is going to be written in, what words you’re going to use, and what message you are going to try to put across, all that’s left is to add some colour.
Sometimes one colour of text on another colour background is enough for an advert, but these cases are few and far between. Nike is quite good at this with its white text on black background adverts.
However, you are probably going to want to use imagery, or at least more colour than white on black, to grab the attention of a potential client.
Throughout most of the world, if you used this image with a tagline such as “Our customers think we’re great”, people would understand that the man in the image is a customer showing his approval.
However, change the text to Portuguese and show it in Brazil, and they won’t be as pleased.
They won’t understand the advert and may pull it, as this gesture is akin to giving the middle finger.
A similar thing can be found with colours. If you’re running an advert with a message along the lines of ‘ensuring your finances never go into the red’ in the UK, your clients would be happy to know their money is safe in your hands.
But run the same advert in China, and your customers will be running away with every coin they can carry. Being in the red in China is the best place due to red being the lucky colour. They would rather avoid their money going into the black.
Get in touch
Overall, it’s quite simple.
Keep the audience in mind when doing any sort of advertising, whether it’s video, radio, or social media, and adapt your advert for the audience you’re targeting wherever possible.
If you don’t feel like you could create different versions of the same advert for a millennial and retiree, then you could always get an agency which understands your industry to write the perfect advert for your potential clients.
Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0115 8965 300 if you’d like to find out more.