Translation Marketing

Jump of the CliffWhen you’re selling something, how do you do it? Are you keeping it simple or are you overselling?

In other words, are you using translation marketing or not?

In his post today, Chris Brogan discusses the sales cycle and where social media fits into it. Prospects, awareness, leads, customers and evangelists. All great stuff and well worth reading. But that’s internal talk. Yes, the aim is to take that internal talk and transfer it to external listeners.

But when you’re trying to grab these external listeners, are you talking their language or double Dutch?

Marketing seems to have gone through a metamorphis over the last few years. More are trying to be clever with their message – unfortunately, many are coming across as too clever and the message is being lost.

Nothing needs to be complicated. People by nature are simple. We like simple things. Confusion might be fun in a mystery movie or a game of Cluedo. But when it comes to businesses marketing to us, confusion just turns us off you and onto your competitors.

Yet it doesn’t need to be this way.

The Like Factor

Years ago, when I first got into marketing, one of my mentors taught me about The Like Factor. It was a pretty straightforward concept and one I’m sure was widely used. Maybe it still is today, but I’ve seen few examples if it is.

People are more comfortable when they relate to something. Personal experiences tell us whether we like something or not. So use that and turn The Like Factor into your own translation marketing so we don’t have to translate your message.

Compare these two messages:

  1. “It is important to manage the performance and availability of your critical Web applications to deliver consistently superior services aligned with your business goals. Meeting this challenge requires a new approach to application performance management, where IT becomes a strategic service provider and an innovation partner of the business organization.”
  2. “You know that feeling you get when you go out and you can’t remember whether you turned off the gas or not? We’ll be the guys that make sure your gas is looked after in your IT kitchen.”

They’re the same message aimed at the same people – IT managers. The first one is a marketing spiel given by an IT provider, the second is something I just came up with to use translation marketing.

You’re the customer. Which one would you relate to more? Do you prefer marketing talk or translation marketing?

Creative Commons License photo credit: greg321

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  1. says

    Yes! How can you communicate your message, if you are speaking the wrong language? First we listen and learn, then we can speak in a language our audience understands. We also need speak to them where they are. The message needs to be relevant to them. and we need to listen for feed back. Thanks Danny for reminding me to keep it clean and simple.

    • says

      Hi Danny – I’m a bit old school I suppose; no, I know that I am… I have hired many IT companies over the years for several businesses. I would have responded to the first add and completely skipped the second. I liked the professional structure of the message.

      As I reflect back, most, if not all of the IT companies or IT personnel that I’ve hired throughout those years were recommended by people I knew and trusted. I didn’t look for ads, I looked through my Rolodex (that’s old school!) and called people for a recommendation.

      You definitely gave me something to think about in this post… doing things the way you always have done them vs considering knew ways to communicate your message… Thanks

      • says

        Perhaps the IT example wasn’t the best one to use, Mark – I know how you guys have your own special language ๐Ÿ˜‰

        It’s interesting that you mention word-of-mouth for your hires. Is it because IT is one of these industries that people can really make a name for themselves and it spreads wider?

  2. says

    Two perfect examples of goofus and gallant in terms of copy writing. You always want to relate to the customer on their terms (and not yours). The key is doing this in a clear and effective manner. So translate the industry speak…and work on delivering a clear CTA.

  3. says


    I like to be alert to both types of ‘speak’ because some people are very technical in nature and can have a great product but they are not real personable. Doesn’t mean I won’t use their solution though.

    One of the worst things I do is over-communicate. I often feel like everyone has to know every detail of everything all the time. In this fast paced world the best thing anyone who sells can do is (IMO):

    1. Clearly identify the need of the prospect. If there is any assuming going on there will be trouble and a bad fit could result. Build your sale on a foundation of stone not sand.

    2. Determine if your product / service can actually meet their need.

    3. Then connect the dots by showing them how numbers one and two either work or DON’T work. A good job of selling is sometimes recognizing a bad fit and moving on. Can be more of a relationship builder than anything.

    4. Do it was a little fluff as possible. Time is of the essence so giving just what they need rather than what you THINK they need is best for all parties involved. Of course, make sure a genuine relationship is under way because that will determine how later communication happens.

    The universal language of business is problem solving so whatever ‘speak’ gets yo uthere is cool.

    Great post!

  4. says

    I am not sure what you translated had anything to do with liking, but it did three things for me:
    – I actually stayed engaged with the message and read the entire thing (instead of hearing blah, blah, blah)
    – You answered the key question – what does this mean for me?
    – It made me feel like a person was talking to me, not a brochure and people buy from people
    Loved it, and wrote about something similar on my blog yesterday –

    • says

      Hi there Lynda,

      Thanks, glad you stuck around. :)

      Where my translation was approaching from a “like factor” is that instead of just hearing the same old sales spiel, I tried to equate it to something people relate to.

      Everyone’s wondered about their gas being left on, or if they locked the door before leaving. Instead of saying, “We’ll monitor the safeguarding of your property through intellectual utilization of your resources… blah blah blah”, all I need to hear is, “We’ll be like your invisible guardian angels.”

      Heading over to check out your blog now. :)

  5. says

    Such a simple concept but so very important. You can try and sell your product a zillion different ways, but the way that relates to the customer the best is the way that will win.

    If you’re not translating your message to relate, you’re probably not being very effective.