March 17th, 2008 12:02 EST
Talking Like a Marketer
It`s a funny thing how language has the power to change the value of something from a low price to a high price. It doesn`t matter if the item has changed at all but the perception of the item could be changed just with the words that we use to describe it.
Recently my 15 year old son decided that he wanted to get into bicycle riding - and we`re not talking about fancy mountain biking. We`re talking about road biking with the old fashion handle bars that we grew up with -- the ones that curved underneath and caused you to sit hunched over. It`s the kind of bike that most of us middle aged people can`t ride very easily because our backs would creak and crack the next day.
We go to the bike store and it turns out that what I remember as being a very inexpensive bicycle is now a very high tech piece of equipment with a price tag that starts at about $700. Even more shocking is that some of these bikes go up to, or exceed $10,000, for just one bike.
In speaking with the sales representative at the bike store, I quickly could understand some of the reasons that these bikes had become so expensive. Bikes don`t have shapes and sizes anymore. When I was a kid a bike had a certain shape and a certain size and our parents would buy it for us based on those needs. Now instead, bikes have "geometry." Geometry is very sophisticated. It requires great precision in building the machine and executing that vision in a certain way. And of course, the person who buys a bike with such geometry is going to have a better experience than a bike with an inferior geometry.
Well, as an experienced salesperson, I can tell when I hear a sales pitch. I`m not saying that the technology that goes into bicycles isn`t tons better than it was when I was a kid, but I also recognize marketing language. When I hear words like "geometry", I know that there`s a lot of margin built into these pieces of equipment. They look sharp and they`re great, but I also know that I`m about to get charged a large sum of money for something that I may or may not need.
These types of language issues are all around us. I remember when I was a kid, thinking how funny it was that the garbage man who picked up the trash on the street was suddenly being referred to as a "sanitary engineer." Just the thought of a sanitary engineer must have doubled the guy`s salary. In our age now of political correctness, it`s especially important that we name things appropriately and adequately.
But as consumers we need also to protect ourselves from giant margins that are developed on the basis of language. The flip side of this is that as salespeople and marketers, we need to learn from what other people are doing so that we can incorporate these strategies into our own programs. If we want to increase our margins, if want to increase our sales, we have to use language that`s enticing and seems worthy of additional revenue or payment by the consumer.
So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you`re building your career, think about how you can incorporate marketing language into your campaign. On the flip side, when you are the entrepreneur who shows up over the weekend as a consumer at someone else`s store, beware of marketing language and the way that it impacts the way that you think - and the price that you pay.
About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit www.joelblock.com or www.growth-logic.com.