The language of your marketplace

you tube statsLearning the language the people in your market place use is a critical part of learning to craft offers and sell to them. If you don’t speak their language, they’ll instantly know they’re being marketed to by an “outsider.” They will consider you to be Walmart instead of their friendly grocer. Given that a savvy shopper spends more money and gives more consideration to  their grocer, you  need to learn their lingo, the language of their business. When you talk as they do, you’ll build an instant trust, a rapport, and have a much better chance of being let into their lives and their wallets, just like the friendly grocer.

How do you learn the lingo of a new market? How do you make sure you’re using the language that a market is used to? Here are a few tips and some resources:

Anytime you’re thinking of jumping into a marketplace, start by reading their message boards, forums and blogs.

  • These are the places where users, both new and old, come to discuss their ideas, problems and solutions in a carefree way. This is as close as you’ll get online to hearing a casual in-person discussion.
  • Unlike high-powered websites that have to filter their language carefully, on forums and blogs you’ll get the chance to really pick up the slang of a market.
  • Read these sites until you start to get a sense of how people talk. Anytime a word or acronym comes up that you don’t recognize, look it up.

Personal trainers and people looking for personal training speak different languages. If you are a personal trainer you’ll get more clients when you speak to them in their own words. My clients only just understand the concept of blogging. If I mentioned content marketing they’d give me the blank, glazed-over look. Sometimes the mere mention of blogging does that too…

Be careful in your observations – what you may think is a problem may not be. I recall getting sent a press release from a company marketing a hands-free baby’s bottle. They’d read that moms would like to do something whilst feeding their baby, multi task even…. They clearly didn’t talk to any real moms, or they would have sound found out that moms may say something but not actually want a solution, they like and know there is a need to hug their babies as they feed. That hands free bottles might be seen as dangerous never crossed the companies mind.

Two Things to Pay Attention To

There are two especially important areas worth paying attention to: A) How people express their problems, and B) How things are measured.

Take for example online marketing, the key phrases you may need to pay attention to may include: SERPs, unique visitors, CTR, backlinks, PR, nofollow, opt-in rate, etc. To an outsider, these words and acronyms may mean nothing. But if an outsider wanted to come in and “speak marketing,” these are also the most important words and phrases they’d need to learn and understand.

  • Figure out how a marketplace talks about their problems
  • Figure out how they measure their success.

Learn to use those words eloquently and you’ll be able to speak to the heart of your customer.

Read Your Competitor’s Sales Pages

Chances are your more successful competitors already have sales letters that are well written and crafted to the language of the market. Whenever possible I buy ready made sales pages to study. Some of my favourite blogs have been found when search for sales and landing pages to study.

Read these sales pages. Even if you’ve already read the blogs and forums, you’ll very likely pick up language that works specifically for selling to that market. The writer has already done the heavy lifting, all you have to do is sit back, read and adapt.

Print out your sales pages, grab a pen and start scrawling all over them.

  • What parts of the sales letter get you the most excited? – Highlight
  • What are the phrases, stories, emotions that your competitor’s using?
  • What acronyms and language stands out?
  • What images are used?
  • Where are the key messages?

Take the best parts and adapt them to your own sales pages. Be ruthless here.  Learning from proven winners can take a lot of work out of the equation and remember, you can copy their sales page but if you do you’ll not only look stupid but you might find their ideal prospect is not your ideal prospect.

Some additional reading you might like:

The Effect of Using Influential Power Words in Your Marketing


Words have the ability to connect readers with emotions, savvy advertisers have been secretly (and not so secretly) influencing you by slipping these words into their marketing to create compelling copy.

How To Persuade With THE 4 Power Words


When it comes to creating web content that generates leads, spurs phone calls and sells products, the toolbox of the writer is filled with but a few words that matter … certain power words that hold more sway over our decision

Speaking Your Customer’s Language | Online Marketing Giant


It’s not enough to sit in your office and dream up how you can better speak your prospect’s language. You have to get out there and rub shoulders with them.

Are you talking to me? | Sales Ecosystem


It is all fine to have the audience clear in your mind but if you do not know how to speak to them you might as well publish your content in a foreign language. You need to be speaking the language of your target market in all

And just for fun…

A Bizspeak Blacklist – Bryan A. Garner – Harvard Business Review


Back when journalists were somewhat more fastidious with the language than they are today, newspaper editors often kept an “index expurgatorius”: a roster of words and phrases that under no circumstances (except perhaps in a damning quote) would find their way into print. Here’s such a list Hunt for offending phrases: Start looking for bizspeak in all kinds of documents, from memos to marketing plans, and you’ll find it everywhere. 

In short, read the forums and the blogs. Pay special attention to problem-words and measure-words. Read your competitor’s sales pages, take the best parts and adapt them to your own and then remove all the “biz speak”


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Sarah Arrow

Sarah Arrow started blogging to save a business and it worked! She created her first blogging challenge back in 2007, and is the author of many quick start marketing guides, turning Sark eMedia into a publishing business.

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Steve Borgman - last year

Wow, Sarah. Thanks for sharing another stellar article. What stuck out to me is a) what I consider a problem for my target audience may not be a problem at all to them; and b) to rub shoulders with my potential customers, online and offline, is the best way to learn their language. One practical application for me is to spend more time on facebook groups and forums that my target group participate in.

Patricia Gozlan - last year

Thanks Sarah, I loved your post and all the tips you share.
I’m still challenged when it comes to find my competitors sites ( head to head) so that I can be inspired by what they do and adapt it to my signature system.Words are powerful and we need to 1st listen to the language and challenges of our market before creating any product to sell.
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Kyle Nelson - last year

I am always searching for my competitors to see what they are doing. I usuall reach out to them and ask if they would like to work together. It always wor, I think most bloggers are out there for the better good and love helping each other out. I do know that taking a look at a sales page that has good conversions is a great way to build your own. I have reached out to one blogger that even gave me the templates to his sales pages. :)
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Sarupa Shah - last year

Really good reminder – and I have a couple of actions to take away and love the first link you have shared BTW too!
Sarupa Shah recently posted…Why emotions will strangle your business…My Profile

Evan - last year

Right, reading blogs and some other inspirational sites can be a great help for noob bloggers.
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Chery Schmidt - last year

Hi Sarah! I love the way you share all these links, once again I am going to book mark this page and come back when I have more time. I am learning the language of my market place by spending time reading blogs like yours and really soaking in all this great information.. Thanks for sharing Chery

Donna Merrill - last year

Thanks Sarah for a great article and awesome links!

What stands out the most for me is to read my competitor’s sales pages. I just love doing that! Reading them gives me good ideas of certain words and “catch phrases” that I can test my market with.

Communication is the key to everything! When we choose our words wisely, especially with a sales page, it not only saves time, but is more cost effective. Each time I put up a sales page, I have to tweak it to see who is responding. This saves so much time.

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Michael Shook - last year

What we say and the words we use to say those things is vitally important, especially online. When all we have are our words (not intonation or body language or gestures) we absolutely, positively need to sue the language of the people we are writing for.

These are great ideas to find out what words they are actually using, very much worth the time and effort it takes to become knowledgeable about those. :-)
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Gene Call - last year

Sarah–I always appreciate the opportunities I have to read your posts. You always give the reader practical information. I catch myself sometimes falling in the trap you mentioned. As one used to interacting with the contracting industry and/or real estate community, I sometimes use lingo that the consumers I am trying to assist have no reason to know or understand. My communication “bad”!
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Marty Diamond - last year

Hi Sarah

I’ve noticed that clients do a pretty good job of understanding the language of their customer but that everything breaks down when you ask how their clients measure success. Usually they’ve never thought of this at all. We can all get so focused on how WE measure success that we completely forget to find out what our clients call a success. Great post – thanks for the links to the articles – I’ll be back to check them out. Marty
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Cherrie Bautista@Healthy Me! - last year

Those are valuable tips, Sarah! It’s interesting that you’ve mentioned an important aspect which is how clients measure success. Oftentimes this is overlooked. A great reminder to everyone!
Cherrie Bautista recently posted…21 Ways Rich People Think Differently Than Average PeopleMy Profile

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