I recently saw these statements from businesses on Instagram:
“Our mission is towards creating a more sustainable Tanzania.”
(I thought, “That sounds cool!… But what does it mean?”)
“Our mission is to eliminate the elephant crisis.”
(I thought, “What ‘elephant crisis’?”)
Of course, I knew “sustainable” probably referred to the environment, and “elephant crisis” had to mean the widespread killing of elephants for their ivory. What’s the problem, then? The problem is that “sustainable” and “crisis” are really vague words that made me wary of the businesses’ intentions.
Using vague words like this can make it sound like you don’t really know what the issue is, but you’re sure as heck going to try to exploit it to sell your product. Sustainable! Crisis! Buzzword de jour! The thing is, you probably really do care about the issue you’re talking about, as I’m sure the businesses above do; but the vagueness of the language makes it seem like your commitment is shallow, because your word choice is shallow.
There’s such a simple fix to this: be specific. You don’t have to use more words, or at least not a lot more words, but do use words that refer to the specific issue you’re addressing. It sounds obvious, but being specific makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about. And more importantly:
Being specific builds trust.
Being specific paints a picture for the reader without making them do any thinking or wondering. They can see immediately what you’re doing. They also know that you know what you’re doing, and that you’re addressing a real, specific, solvable problem rather than just using buzzy words to get on board the social consciousness train, destination profit town.
So how could we improve the statements above to better connect with and build trust with potential customers?
“We’re committed to protecting the environment by offsetting our carbon use through Carbon Tanzania and following a strict trash-in-trash-out policy in the national parks.”
“Our mission is to end elephant poaching forever.”
Gives you a much clearer understanding of what these businesses are doing, doesn’t it? Carbon. Trash. Poaching. All of these terms paint a picture and don’t leave you wondering what the businesses are all about. Instead of trying to figure it out, you can spend your time checking out their sales page, knowing that your purchase will contribute to solving a clear problem.
What buzzwords do people use in your industry that could be replaced with something more specific?