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Kathy Klotz

Seven Communication Sins That Kill Simplicity and Business

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The way you communicate with prospects and customers creates or destroys value.

When communication is focused and simple, it can add value by challenging your prospects’ status quo, expanding their options, and helping them to see things in new ways. Yet, too often we complicate things and we may not realize it. That kills value and pushes people away.

Below are 7 ways poor communication kills simplicity, credibility, and business.

1. The ‘Base Toucher’

You leave the following voicemail, or perhaps an email:

“Hi. I just wanted to touch base….”

How many messages exactly like this do people get every day? It lacks actionable urgency for your prospect or client, and it destroys value by adding more noise to their inbox and voicemail.

And exactly how is a customer supposed to respond?

Instead, ask your client, “How can I simplify things for you?” or, “What can I do to expedite the process for you?” That’s a better way to move things forward.

The only good ‘touching base’ reference is in baseball.

2. ‘Beaches’ Conversation

Turn ME into YOU. Make a content YOU-turn.

I’ve long referred to ‘me, my, our, we’ as the “Beaches” approach to marketing.

In the great movie, Beaches, with Barbara Hershey and Better Midler, Midler’s character spends a lot of time talking about herself and her life, then turns to her friend who is dying of cancer, played by Barbara Hershey, and says, “That’s enough about me. What do YOU think of Me?”

It’s a huge turn-off.

Stop the “our IP, our methodology, our services, our products.” Instead put the focus on your audience and their needs: you, your, their. Here’s my rule of thumb: aim for 75-80% of your language to be focused on the audience’s YOU, and about 20-25% on self-references (me, my, our).

Focus the conversation on how you make your prospects’ lives better. They don’t care about your IP.

3. The Overwhelmer

If 5 ideas for a customer is good, then 20 ideas must be better! Right?


Your audience needs simplicity. When we throw more data at people without context and a way to act on that data in any meaningful way, your audience is left to its own devices to figure out how the heck to do business with you.

Instead, offer a few easy ways to engage with you. Your customer may have 10 problems. Your goal is to figure out how to solve the first one before you take on the world.

4. The Jargon-Stipator

When you throw buzzwords at people, you are throwing grenades.

People have enough complexity, they don’t have time to decode what you’re talking about. Jargon is not a conversation catalyst; rather, it shuts conversations off before they start. It erodes trust.

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About the Author:
A marketer, speaker and storyteller, Kathy Klotz-Guest, MA, MBA, helps organizations turn marketing-speak into stories that customers and employees act on. The founder of Keeping it Human , she also performs improv comedy (as a founding member of the Improv Comedy Upstarts) and kicks jargon’s butt. Her marketing podcast is Jargonorrhea Live - a Viral Marketing Show. Kathy's new ebook is on Amazon: Marketing Executive's Bedtime Guide to Better Content Through Storytelling and Humor.
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