Language Alienation

Popping to the cash machine prior to a thoroughly enjoyable steak-fest at Gaucho’s in rainy London last night, I was reminded to always use language that does not alienate my prospects.

It stemmed from the truly woeful ad campaign Barclays Bank ran on their ATM screen.  Trying to tap into their sponsorship of the footie Premiership, next to a glistening red and white Nike football was a slogan tempting you to talk to them if you were thinking of “switching sides”.

I found this astonishing.  If you’re into football, there is no way you would ever comtemplate such a thing.  No-one ever, ever changes allegiance.  In addition, the phrase also has connations of, how can I say this delicately…., sexual preferences.  As in ‘if you play for City and United’, for instance, and where ‘switching sides’ means something else entirely that I suspect would still further distance much of your target market.

When I first set up my current main company, I used to pitch to heads of sales teams regularly gently deriding crm, yet actually pointing out I was a big fan of what it set out to achieve.  I subsequently discovered that people never remembered the praise I gave, only the slagging off.  This was not a good thing.  So I changed tack ever since.

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